There are countless articles out there questioning or affirming the merits of scheduling sex—think those couples who sacrifice spontaneity and keep weekly logs to ensure getting it in on a regular basis. If you were wondering whether your relationship would benefit from this particular regimented approach, a study published last week in the Journal of Sex Research offers a compelling bit of evidence in favor of the practice—or at least in favor of valuing the personality traits that might engender the practice.
The authors surveyed just under 1,000 couples in Germany on the quality of their sex lives and any issues they were having with sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction or problems reaching orgasm. They also asked each of the participants to describe both their partners and their own personalities according to the “Big Five” character traits—extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and openness—attempting to see how personality traits link up with sexual function.
While the correlations the researchers discerned ended up being small (though statistically significant), they found that of the Big Five character traits (extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and openness), one positive predictor of sexual function for both men and women was how conscientious the respondents themselves were, and for women, how conscientious their partners were. (Interestingly, “men whose partners had less emotional stability [i.e. higher neuroticism] reported better sexual function.”) The authors describe conscientious individuals as “careful, thorough, dutiful, and having the desire to do a task well.” In other words, the type of person not only most likely to schedule sex but, as the authors’ write, “to postpone one’s own needs and interests to focus on resolving a sexual problem within the context of committed, long-term relationships.”
As Cari Romm over The Cut notes, the authors’ findings run counter to almost everything we usually hear about what makes a satisfying sex life: Who really wants to hear the word dutiful in the bedroom? But once the steamy newness of a relationship wears off, it ultimately makes sense that the traits that would lead to fewer problems in your sex life wouldn’t necessarily be openness to new experiences, but rather a sense of responsibility to your partner. “The circumstances that we’re conditioned to believe make for good sex so often don’t line up with the realities of a long-term relationship,” Romm writes. “But here, with data to back it up, is a reminder that trying hard can be hot, and that intention can be better than abandon.” Implementing practices into your relationship, like scheduling sex or continually establishing boundaries or postponing your own needs, might not sound sexy or romantic, but they’re necessary. It’s just one more reason to schedule your life into regimented KonMari submission—and bliss.
One more thing
If you think Slate’s work matters, become a Slate Plus member. You’ll get exclusive members-only content and a suite of great benefits—and you’ll help secure Slate’s future.Join Slate Plus