sex

Would you try scheduling sex with your partner? I did and this is what happened.

Don’t worry. This story will not include the intimate details of my, erm, intimate time.

I do, however, want to have a candid conversation about how much sex we’re all having, and whether scheduling sex (literally scheduling it in on a calendar) could help improve your sex life.

A few months ago, we did a poll in our office about how many times you should have sex if you’re in a relationship. The results were varied – some people said once a week, others said once a fortnight – but the most common answer was: three to four times per week.

Three to four times.

I have no idea if anyone else thought this number was a tad high, but the idea of having sex three to four times a week being the gold standard of love making shocked me a little because… I’m not measuring up.

Statistics from the Australian Study of Health and Relationship‘s most recent survey, the 2014 Sex in Australia Summary, found heterosexual couples in a committed relationship are having sex around 1.4 times a week (assuming the .4 is… oral sex?), down from 1.8, where it was in 2003. In an ideal world, people said that number would rise to between two and four times a week.

I’m one of the just under 30 per cent of Aussies who have sex less than once per week, most weeks. This has nothing to do with whether I want my partner or the quality of our sex, but the reality of our busy lifestyles. But are full-time work, individual hobbies, Netflix and being exhausted at the end of the work day good enough excuses not to be having more sex?

Samantha X is Australia’s highest paid high-class escort. Here’s what she wants you to know about how to have better sex, post continues after video.

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We don’t have small children threatening to barge in on Mum and Dad at any moment, so I feel like these excused aren’t good enough, and sexologist and relationships expert Dr Nikki Goldstein agrees.

“I think couples tend to put sex down the bottom of the list of priorities, and it’s not that you become busy, being busy is one thing, but I think it just becomes less important,” Dr Goldstein told Mamamia.

“You need to place importance on sex, and sex should be an important part of your relationship. Really, it’s about getting back to that place where you’re having sex enough that you’re seeing the benefits for the relationship – feeling desired and connected – and finding that sweet spot of having sex as a part of your busy lifestyle.”

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This is why my partner and I decided to try scheduling sex for a month to see if it would have a positive impact on our relationship and sex lives. In other words, would it make us feel content with the amount of sex we’re having, and our own sexiness in general?

Sparing you the ins and outs (ha), we agreed to have sex three times a week on alternate days – twice during the week and once on the weekend. We also wanted to make a point of carving out time for good sex, rather than just doin it because it was on the calendar.

I also asked sex and relationship experts what the deal is with scheduling sex and how best to do it. Here’s what they said, and how we went.

What is scheduled sex and what’s the point?

Melbourne-based Psycho-Sexologist Chantelle Otten describes scheduled sex as ‘maintenance sex’, a way of making regular sex more of an event in your relationship.

“Scheduling sex is basically a way of saying ‘let’s make sex an event’. It is when a couple looks for windows of opportunity to have sex, and if you think about it, in a way, when we are going on dates or have a night out with our partner with an expectation of intimacy, you are basically scheduling sex also,” Otten told Mamamia.

“It’s about making time for sexiness. In many ways, it can also help with spontaneous sexuality and building sexual desire. The more ‘maintenance sex’ we have, the easier it is for us to know how to have impromptu sex.”

Side note – Samantha X and Dr. Lauren Rosewarne discuss mismatched libidos and how they affect your sex life with Rachel Corbett on the Sealed Section podcast, get it in your ears below. Post continues after audio.

What counts as sex when you’re scheduling sex?

As Dr Goldstein said, “It’s one thing to have sex and it’s another thing to have good sex“, but for some people, scheduling sex is more about carving out time with your partner with the idea that sex can happen.

“Before getting out the calendar, you need to have conversations around what are our expectations, what do we value with good sex, what kind of things do we both want. It’s important for women to speak up in these scenarios because if we can make sex more pleasurable for women, they’re going to be wanting it a lot more.”

For you, this could mean going out for dinner and drinks on the weekend, or picking a night during the week when there’s nothing good on TV and using that time to do things that may lead to sex.

Otten said redefining what the word ‘sex’ means to you and your partner will also play a role in your schedule.

“Sex is not about function, but about satisfaction. Find what brings you sexual pleasure and build from there.”

In other words, good sex doesn’t have to be, and often isn’t, all about putting the P in the V.

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What does a sex schedule actually look like?

If you’re picturing a sex schedule as a colourful flow chart calendar with eggplant emoji stickers for the days you plan to do it… you could do that. Or you could keep things really simple.

We talked about which days would work best for us – not Tuesday because that’s when Travel Guides is on and not Saturday nights because we’re normally drunk then and drunk sex doesn’t count – and then I chucked it in my iPhone calendar as something discreet like ‘do it tonight’.

You could also put it on the calendar on your fridge, whatever you reckon will work best for you.

As for what it’s like actually following your sex schedule, from my experience, expect the first week or two to feel fun, and after that, not so much.

Here’s a little non-graphic recap of how we went with our schedule:

  • Day 1: Tick.
  • Day 5: Tick.
  • Day 8: Tick, but tired.
  • Day 12: Tipsy tick.
  • Day 15: Couldn’t really be effed, rescheduled to the next day.
  • Day 16: Tick.
  • Day 20: Why did I agree to this?
  • Day 24: Tick.
  • Day 29: Nah.
  • Day 31: Tick.

There’s not really a ‘right’ way to do a sex schedule (other than, well, not following it at all). Life has a way of sh*tting all over your well-intended plans, so don’t feel bad if things move around or don’t happen.

How to schedule sex with your partner without sucking the fun out of it.

Scheduling in sex like you would a doctor’s appointment, or in a good week, a workout, doesn’t sound very… sexy.

But if you keep in mind what Dr Goldstein said about scheduling in opportunities where things could lead to sex, it doesn’t feel so mechanical. On a technical level, look at the times in the week where you have windows – when you’ve got a day off together, when the kids are in bed or when you don’t have to work late.

Once you’ve found the times, you’ve got to make an effort. This doesn’t mean having sex when you don’t want to have sex –  Otten said if you get to a time when you’re rostered on to have sex but you’re not feeling it, “you can raincheck and reschedule” – but make an effort to do something intimate during that time like kissing or cuddling, which can often lead to wanting to have sex with your partner.

“What you do physically during this time is up to you, sex is everything under the sexual umbrella, including rubbing each other, making out, fingers, hands, mouth.”

Dr Goldstein added, “It’s important to give your schedule a time limit. I wouldn’t be suggesting to schedule sex long term.”

“If you can come up with an arrangement where you and your partner decide you’re going to really focus on your sex life for three months or so, and one of the ways we’ll do that is schedule sex, that will you into the habit of putting importance on sex. What I would worry about if people decide to schedule sex long term, because it takes away from the mood, so it’s a good short-term tool in the hope you’ll get the benefits of having sex with your partner.”

sex on the first date
"For some, scheduling sex is more about carving out time with your partner with the idea that sex can happen." Image via Getty.
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Does scheduling sex work for everyone?

Short answer, no.

If the issue is the quality of the sex you're having, Dr Goldstein said scheduling sex will probably serve as a reminder of why you're not having sex in the first place. Another risk is having sex for the sake of it, which also doesn't really help you.

"One thing that can happen is you might find yourself having sex when you don't want to be, and that's not a nice feeling for your partner because they'll find you're not present and you're getting more pissed off."

Same goes for if you and your partner have mismatched libidos - making one partner have sex at an agreed time that might not suit them won't help things. In these cases, there are more basic conversations to be had about what you do and don't like and how to make sex pleasurable for both partners.

In our month of scheduled sex, my partner and I 100 per cent did not stick to the schedule. Honestly, we followed our plan for about two weeks, and then sh*t happened and life got in the way. We didn't see this as a failure though, because really, the whole point of trying this experiment was to make each other's pleasure more of a priority and reconnect to that part of our relationship. Which we did, so yay.

Probably the biggest lesson my partner and I took away from our month of scheduled sex is, really, who gives a stuff about the exact number of times you're having sex?

What's 'right' for another couple doesn't have to be 'right' for you, and the golden nugget of wisdom we found is that the only people who need to be happy and content with how much sex you're having is you and your partner. Pushing sex up the top of your relationship priority list is great, but that can look like whatever you want.

As Otten put it, "There's more to sex to penetration and intercourse, it's about the journey of sexuality. If you're satisfied with the level of intimacy you're getting and how you feel, then that's satisfactory for your relationship."

Hear, hear.

Do you feel the pressure to be having more sex than you are? Would you ever try scheduling sex with your partner?

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