Contrary to what movies, TV shows, and the media in general have conditioned us to believe, couples don't have to be wildly sexually adventurous in order to have a fulfilling sex life. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found a more realistic predictor of a satisfactory sex life that has little to do with actual sex: partner responsiveness as it pertains to intimacy.
"Sexual desire tends to subside gradually over time, with many couples failing to maintain desire in their long-term relationships," explained the researchers. But they ultimately found that simply responding to a partner's needs and making them feel special and appreciated can actually increase feelings of sexual desire, especially for women.
The researchers, hailing from the Baruch Ivcher School of Psychology in Israel and the University of Rochester, asked 100 couples to keep a relationship diary for six weeks. Each partner recorded their own feelings of sexual desire as well as how responsive they perceived their partner to be. They also journaled about how special and valued their partner made them feel on a day-to-day basis.
After analyzing the results, the team determined that when a participant perceived their partner as responsive, they also appeared more sexually desirable to them.
How to Cultivate Responsiveness in Your Relationship
"People who perceive their partner as responsive believe that this partner understands and appreciates their needs, as well as reacts supportively to their goals," said lead study author Gurit E. Birnbaum, PhD as quoted in Health. "This is important because it shows that you not only care about your partner's well-being, but that you truly understand his or her wants and needs."
To cultivate responsiveness in your relationship, Birnbaum recommends setting aside time to talk and listen to your partner every day, without judgment or interruption. This intellectual intimacy could lead to greater sexual intimacy behind closed doors.