By Simone Paget
Forget the seven-year itch. The one-year itch might be what you really need to be worried about. According to a new study out of Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University, passion in a relationship begins to fade after the one-year mark.
The study which was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior looked at 3,000 participants between the ages of 25 and 41 and asked them to rate their sex lives in order to determine when they were the most sexually satisfied. What they discovered was that sexual satisfaction peaks around the one-year mark. As a reporter from online entertainment site Bustle posits, this probably means your first anniversary was pretty hot. But, does this also mean that your sex life is sure to experience a downward slope?
California-based sex therapist and writer Vanessa Marin says your sex life isn’t doomed. “There have been a number of studies that attempt to track sexual satisfaction, and most of them come up with entirely different findings,” says Marin. “In my professional experience, most couples report lower frequency and less passion after 6-12 months. But many couples say they’re having better sex as time goes on, since they get to know each other’s bodies and what they like,” she says.
With that said, the one-year mark of a relationship can be very significant for some couples. Susan Winter is a relationship expert and bestselling author based in New York. As she shares, “the one-year mark has proven to be a “make it or break it” identifier for my clients,” she says. “They’ve had ample time to assess the viability of their relationship and determine if there’s a real future together. By this point they’ve seen each other’s positive and negative traits.
The first year is the period where they either fully commit to moving forward, or have accumulated enough informational material to back off and reconsider the partnership,” says the author of Allowing Magnificence and Older Women/Younger Men.
However, as Winter points out, if couples have managed to weather the storm and their feelings have progressed from infatuation to love, “there’s a sense of safety and security that allows a deeper merging to occur in the bedroom. Sexual satisfaction is far greater now as their love has transported them to another level of unity.”
As Victoria Beltran, a public health professional and certified health education specialist explains, “It takes interest in the person beyond sex to make sure that after the 1-year mark, sex is still part of intimacy and connection. Even then, sexual satisfaction can be transferred to things like satisfaction that the other person is meeting emotional and mental needs.”
The truth is, there are many complex variables that can affect a couple’s sexual satisfaction. As Winter points out, “keeping the spark alive over time is a common issue with couples. Day-to-day life gets in the way. Children, work, parents, friends, and life’s errands can take a toll any relationship.” Because of this, couples often become what she calls, “basic necessity communicators.” Instead of hearing words of appreciation, Winter says, “Did you call the plumber?” may be the day’s conversation” – which, isn’t exactly sexy or romantic.
The good news is that there are lots of ways to keep the spark alive in your relationship after the one-year mark and beyond. Here are some tips:
“The first is simply to recognize that having consistently great sex requires effort,” says Marin. “So many expect that great sex should just happen naturally. Or they hang back, waiting for their partner to initiate. When I work with couples, I help them come up with manageable and fun ways of prioritizing sex.”
Take time in your life for intimacy.
“You have to take care of yourself so you feel sexy and confident in your own skin,” says Marin. “You have to show your partner how much you still desire them, and put a little passion behind your initiations. These are all things that might sound a little daunting at first, but can wind up being so much fun.”
Show appreciation for your partner.
“I urge my couples to flirt, seduce, and verbally admire their mate as they did in the past,” says Winter. Even though they’ve been “captured,” the goal is to continue to appreciate and validate your mate’s desirability and allure. Taking your partner for granted is guaranteed to kill your romance. “Actively courting your partner with date night and quality time together is a must,” she says.
Another suggestion? Cuddle more.
“All the hormones that play into sexual attraction may wane a bit after a year (or 6 months, or two years, depends on the person!) but oxytocin and vasopressin, the so called “love hormones” can increase with more attention, cuddling, and intimacy, which may make the sex that much better,” says Beltran.
Go with the flow.
Beltran urges couples to keep in mind that it’s totally normal for sexual satisfaction to ebb and flow within a relationship. Her final words of encouragement: “Don’t compare your sex life to others; do what feels right and take care of each other in any way you can!”