Most of us would say that it’s hard to pinpoint just when the passion in our relationship dampened.
We can’t keep our hands off one another at the beginning but somewhere along the way we realise that we’d rather get a good night’s sleep than stay up all night in the arms of our partner.
Well, the Archives of Sexual Behaviour have concluded that this point is actually one year in: we reach the peak of sexual satisfaction when our relationship hits twelve months.
The study, conducted by researchers from Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University, asked 3000 people between the ages of 25 and 40 to evaluate their sex lives.
The heterosexual couples involved, all at different relationship stages - from a few months to 24 years, were asked to give feedback on their bedroom antics over an extended period of time.
The report, Does sexual satisfaction change with relationship duration?, concludes that: “[there is] a positive development of sexual satisfaction in the first year of a relationship, followed by a steady decline.”
Though this may seem surprisingly early, researchers believe that our heightened passion during the first year is not to do with our feelings toward one another but rather our desire to learn about our partner's sexual desires.
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On average, this process takes about a year, after which any sex drive disparity becomes more apparent and sexual frequency may begin to level out.
Though EmpowHer note that this doesn't mean men have a higher sex drive than women just that “the two sexes just respond differently to stimulation.”
In an article about sexual differences between genders, Sex Science comment that: “Women tend to be more flexible throughout their lifetime in their sexual orientation and preferences for certain sexual activities compared to men, who tend to hold relatively fixed approaches to sexuality.”
Within the context of intercourse frequency, this mercurial attitude towards sex and preferences could mean that, while men are more constantly aroused by the same things, women outgrow their initial sexual desires and so over time become less satisfied by their partners learned pleasuring techniques.
A separate study by sociology professor Edward O. Laumann found that “sexual desire in women is extremely sensitive to environment and context”.
This could offer a further explanation as to why passion peaks after a year. Changes within the relationship, such as moving in with a partner, and outside of it become intertwined with sexual desire for women.
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Perhaps slightly conflictingly though, the Munich University professors don’t believe that children have any effect on passion.
“We did not find that having children played a major role in a couple’s sexual satisfaction, which is remarkable as research has shown that sexual frequency is heavily influenced by the existence and age of children,” they explain.
But passion does continue to drop as time passes, and by the sixteen-year mark, sexual satisfaction had dropped by 27% in the couples monitored.
What we do know is that as a relationship progresses, so do the other elements involved such as trust, loyalty and care. Perhaps as these emotional connections develop and strengthen, the need for a sexual connection lessens.