The next time you find yourself firming up date night plans, consider swapping the ol’ dinner/Netflix combo for an art class instead.
A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology showed that couples who regularly take part in ‘self-expanding’ activities (e.g. anything in which one or both partners learn a new skill) have greater desire and sexual satisfaction.
In two separate experiments, each member of hundreds of long-term couples (in both hetero and homosexual relationships) completed an extensive survey every evening for three weeks. Questions included how happy they felt with their S.O that day, whether they’d been sexually active and how good it had been if so. They were also asked to describe the extent to which their partner helped them learn or experience new things.
The researchers found that the participants were more interested in sex on the days that they’d experienced some form of personal growth thanks to their partner. And in turn, this was when the couples were more likely to a.) do the deed, and b.) feel fulfilled by their relationship and bedroom antics. These results suggest that personal development is crucial to maintaining a healthy sex life.
“There are several reasons why a person’s self-expansion might enhance their own desire,” the study’s authors wrote. “One possibility is that self-expansion boosts sexual desire because couples are experiencing increases in intimacy during self-expanding activities, which in turn promotes desire.”
Or, they hypothesise it could be that “partners are seeing each other more autonomously (i.e., differentiated from the self) during novel activities – that is, seeing a new side of their partner or learning something about their partner of which they were not previously aware – that can ignite intrigue and desire from the early stages of the relationship.”
Interestingly though, the study points out that you don’t necessarily need to be experiencing new things to feel sexually recharged. Even just witnessing your partner’s growth – albeit on a subconscious level - can do the job. And honestly, it makes sense: it’s always attractive to see the person you love evolve and come into their own. And if you’re both facilitating that growth for each other? Even better.