Sex! While humanity’s most basic activity isn’t the subject of social scientific inquiry as much as more buttoned-up fields, sex researchers have started unearthing some sensible findings around sexuality, like that happy couples have sex about once a week, and that watching porn primes partners’ attraction to one another. Now comes a helpful piece of insight for those of us interested in more intercourse: Make your special someone actually feel special.
No, really. In a new study written up by Diana Tourjee at Broadly, a research team lead by Gurit Birnbaum at IDC Herzliya in Israel found that when people felt more closely cared for by their partner, they were more amorous toward them. While the study had three experiments, the one that’s most compelling to me is one in which researchers asked 100 heterosexual couples to keep a nightly sex diary for six weeks. Every night, each person rated the quality of the relationship, how special they felt, how much they wanted to have sex with their partner, and how responsive their partner was to them, and what the partner’s “mate value,” or how much of a catch their partner was. Tourjee reports that both men and women were thirstier for their partners when they thought their partners were responsive. The ladies felt more special when their beaus were attentive to them, and the specialness predicted increased desire. And when the couples felt responded to, desirous, and like they were their partner’s special someone, guess what they did? Sex. (Nice.)
Just like the Drake lyric Soon as you see the text, reply me suggests, responsiveness may be the key to keeping the fire burning in a long-term relationship. “Sexual desire thrives on rising intimacy,” Birnbaum and her colleagues argue, “and being responsive to a partner’s needs is a promising way to instill and maintain this elusive sensation over time.” When you perceive that your partner is responsive to you, then you see your partner as someone “desirable and worth pursuing,” they reason. But being familiar and comfortable with someone doesn’t generate those same kinds of validating feelings, so it’s not going to instigate desire in the relationship in the same way that responsiveness — and the specialness it engenders — is likely to do. It’s a sex-positive, growth-oriented takeaway: If you want to get laid, work on your emotional fluency.