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In my NYC therapy practice, I often see patients—both individuals and couples —who confuse sex and intimacy. For some, especially young people and those less experienced with sex though not onlysex can come with intense feelings and can feel like intimacy.


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Visit the FAQ. A healthy, active sex life is an important factor in keeping your long-term relationship strong. You can think of it as getting your oil changed, checking the air pressure on your tires, and all the other things you need to do often enough to keep your car working smoothly and without any unexpected problems—only, heading to the bedroom is undoubtedly more fun than taking a trip to the mechanic.

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How emotional intimacy affects sex Sex with a long-time partner can admittedly be more complicated than it seems upfront. Along with stability and consistency comes the possibility for the passion to dwindle and for the stresses of everyday life—your work, your kids, your finances—to take sex off the table, if only temporarily. A study found notable increases in intimacy were most likely to lead to an increase in sex—say, a date night or a romantic gesture.

And when these intimate moments led to the bedroom, they also resulted in better-than-average sex.

Sex and intimacy are distinct for many people.

But newer research clarifies more precisely how emotions and sex intertwine in long-term relationships. The research, published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationshipsasked that male and female participants who were in a heterosexual relationship lasting a minimum of six months take a questionnaire 10 times a day over the course of a week, documenting their sexual desire, activity, and emotional intimacy with their partner.

To emphasize: people had to think and write about how into their partners they were 70 times in one week. The were consistent: Intimacy was at its highest from the late afternoon to early morning, and so too was sexual activity. Researchers concluded that, for both men and women, an increased emotional connection highly increased the odds of having sex—and sex, in turn, increases intimacy.

Ultimately, the study shows that the activities that connect you with your partner on an emotional level—catching up after work, meeting up for dinner, or having pillow talk—are the things that actually put you in the mood to have sex.

What to do when you haven't done "it" in a long time

These findings build a case for evenings being the optimal hour to get it on —night time is the right time, as the saying goes. The impact of sex without emotions But is lust without love—or at least, a lack of affection—even sustainable in a long term relationship to begin with? Maybe not: One study looking into reasons behind breakups in heterosexual couples showed that participants of all genders reported that emotional inaccessibility was a likely cause.

In fact, in her research, Murray even observed that when men register emotional unavailability in their female partners, their sexual desire decreases—even if desire from the female partner stays the same.

Sexual roadblocks

Of course, not every long-term relationship looks the same, and plenty might realistically be more long term friends-with-benefits partnerships rather than romantic ones. It really is the thought that counts. Weekly dispatches on science, history and health.

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Plus the people, culture and de that make sex modern. Pick your cadence.

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Every 30 days Every 60 days Every 90 days. Relationships does love at first sight exist? But it's not that simple. By Mikki Brammer Jul 14, Relationships What is a Situationship?

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And are you in one? By Eliza Dumais Jul 09, Dating new rules of intimacy.

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The new normal of dating in quarantine. By Eliza Dumais Aug 15, Relationships reconnecting after having. Five ways to keep the spark alive.

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Kelly Gonsalves is a sex educator, relationship coach, and journalist.


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