If there’s one thing we already know, it’s that people aren’t having sex nearly as much as we think they are. And aside from millennials (who appear to be doing much better in that department than previously thought), lots of us are probably sitting around right now, using the last few minutes of our workdays to lament, “man, I am getting way less sex than all those movies advertised.” But there’s an easy fix, friend. All you have to do is get on a sex schedule. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right now.
A sex schedule — it’s exactly what it sounds like — might seem a bit weird (after all, sex is supposed to be fun and spontaneous and require at least one cup of whipped cream), but according to one expert, it’s really the only way to ensure that you’re getting as much fornication as you need and deserve from life.
Writing for CNN, here’s what psychologist Ian Kerner had to say about the sex rut you may currently have found yourself in:
Sex is the glue that holds us together, and without it, couples can begin to feel like roommates or “just friends” at best. In my experience, when couples stop having sex, their relationships become vulnerable to a host of other threats, including anger, emotional detachment, infidelity and even divorce.
Oh sh*t, that sounds serious. And it’s probably even worse right now, during the holidays, when everyone is so stressed out about everything and the lines at the shopping mall are too long and you didn’t get as much of a holiday bonus as you hoped and the only thing you want to do when you get home is lay down on the bed quietly and not talk to anyone, much less let your significant other touch you in any meaningful way.
Before you panic, Kerner’s got some good news, too:
The great thing about ruts, though, is that you can climb your way out of them. “Research shows that couples who communicate well with each other are better able to navigate sex ruts so their happiness and satisfaction aren’t seriously affected,” said sex researcher Kristen Mark.
And here’s some more good news: You don’t actually need to have sex every day in order to feel good about yourself and your relationship. In fact, recent studies suggest that quality matters far more than quantity; so even a once a week romp can make you happier and healthier, even if you don’t really want to get it on all the time.
There’s a catch here, though. In order to get into the habit of having sex at least once a week, you have to stop saying “we’ll definitely do it tomorrow, but let’s just cuddle as a symbol of our undying affection for each other tonight” and start scheduling sex on your calendar. Yes, that absolutely makes sex seem more like a chore — after all, doesn’t the hottest sex happen when both parties are just so hot for each other they don’t even care that they’re doing it in the copy room? — but that’s due to our misconceptions about what sex should be.
As Kerner points out, the movies (all types) make it seem like desire is a baseball bat we’re hit over the head with and cannot control. The truth is, however, you have to be open to the desire by fostering arousal first. Here’s how:
Think of your sexual brain as a car. The first part of the model, the sexual excitation system (SES) is like the gas pedal for your sexuality. A lot of things can press that pedal and rev your engine, from visual stimulation (how you feel about your body, how you feel about your partner, even having a good day at work), to tactile stimulation (having your partner touch you), and everything in between. Your SES constantly scans your environment for “excitors” that may be sexually appealing and then sends signals to your brain and genitals to activate them.
The second part of this model is the sexual inhibition system (SIS). Just as your SES acts like your body’s gas pedal, your SIS puts the brakes on your sexuality. Like the SES, your SIS also constantly scans your environment, but for turn-offs, whether that’s an argument with your partner, an uncomfortable bed, or even that pile of dirty dishes in the sink. We all have both an SES and SIS, and we all need both for a healthy sex life. That makes arousal a two-part process that requires providing stimulation for the SES and removing any that might trigger the SIS.
We know, we know, that’s even less sexy than buying a Moleskin day planner for the purposes of jotting down “sex at 7:15 sharp; no excuses,” but Kerner really does have a point here. Sit down, start communicating with your partner about bumping uglies — even that’s a huge step because many people hate talking about sex — then get into the practice of doing the stuff you’re into more regularly. In fact, Kerner says that you can start connecting for really short periods of time. Take 15 minutes, do something that excites both you and your partner, and then move on from there. And don’t just do it once!
Yeah, it may seem a little boring, but it’s also “mindful, caring, and attentive to the value of sex.” And that may just be more important in the long run.