A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research refutes a common belief in the Western imagination: Sex is more satisfying when it’s spontaneous. Implicitly, this belief assumes that planned or intentional sex is less satisfying because both partners are aware of the context in which it will take place.
The notion that spontaneous sex is the most passionate and satisfying sex is deeply rooted in the popular Western imagination, but new research from York University challenges this. In their latest study, Department of Health psychologists found that planning can be just as sexy as sex that “just happens.”
But is spontaneous sex more satisfying? While spontaneity can be a signal of passion for some, valuing spontaneity can also have its downsides. Although sex drive can be intense in the heat of a new relationship, and sex can feel like it’s happening regularly and unplanned, sex drive often declines with age.
Spontaneous sex has been described as more exciting and pleasurable in movies, pop culture, and even literature. It may just be a matter of life imitating art, according to a new study by psychologist and lead author Katarina Kovacevic.
People have age-old beliefs (or implicit theories) about what makes romantic relationships fulfilling, which address relational outcomes, and what constitutes a satisfying sex life, which has implications for both sexual satisfaction and relational satisfaction.
The research was carried out in two phases. While the first study used open-ended questions to capture participants’ beliefs about the most satisfying type of sex (spontaneous or planned), the second study monitored participants’ sex lives and levels of sexual satisfaction over 21 days to determine whether these beliefs were true and in any way related to actual sexual satisfaction.
The study provided conflicting results about what kind of sex might ultimately lead to sexual satisfaction. However, it is noteworthy that positive spontaneous sexual beliefs did not show a definitive or direct association with greater sexual satisfaction.
The study also found that people who considered their last sexual encounter planned were likely to report lower levels of sexual satisfaction. However, this was not the case where people favored more planned sexual beliefs.
Taken together, these results suggest that the sexual satisfaction we may derive from our most recent sexual interaction is influenced by both our implicit sexual beliefs and the actual quality of our sexual experience, debunking the myth that planned sex leads to failure is sentenced. Always be worse than impromptu sex.
Sexual beliefs are shaped in complex ways through the integration of multiple sources of information, such as parents and peers. A growing body of evidence suggests that the most common portrayal of sex in mass media is “it happens” and that “kidnapped” is a natural way of having sex, which can affect people’s attitudes, beliefs, and expectations about sex, especially in people the young audience.
While these beliefs may seem harmless at first glance, just influencing their preference for the types of sex they find most exciting, hard, or challenging can have real consequences for your love life and relationships.
It’s not hard to see how spontaneous sexual beliefs can be an obstacle in a relationship where sex “just happens,” such as working parents or a long-distance relationship.