It’s an experience so universal that it has become its own kind of cliché: two people who can’t keep their hands off each other at the start of their relationship start to see their sex life suffer, with libido—as well as the time and energy available for initiating sex—diminishing.
It’s a topic covered by physician and sex educator Dr. Rena Malik in a recent conversation with Dr. Kelly Casperson, a certified urologist and “adult sex ed” author who offers up a very simple solution: set specific time aside in your calendar for lovemaking.
Casperson points out that while it might seem like the least sexy and spontaneous, most boring-old-couple thing to do, people of all ages do it.
“When we were younger, we would schedule time for sex, right?” She says. “Maybe that partner wasn’t available at our house, we were like ‘Friday’s going to be a date, maybe there’s going to be sex.’ And so we had that anticipation, and we didn’t have any pressure until then. So you had this one time you were looking forward to, you knew you were going to be dedicated to it, and it was a turn-on to schedule sex that way.”
Casperson adds that the same excitement can apply now for couples who are in monogamous relationships and living together—especially if they’re also struggling to carve out time for each other due to other demands like work and taking care of children.
“We have this myth that we should just have it whenever, all the time, but we don’t, right? We’re always too busy doing other things,” she says. “But if you take it back into scheduling it and say, ‘Hey, Sunday, let’s do this at 2 p.m., then you’re like ‘that’s my protected time to do it.’”
Building a structured routine has all kinds of benefits when it comes to achieving work goals and taking care of your health and fitness—Casperson believes the same can be true of fulfilling your and your partner’s sexual needs.
“It’s kind of like exercising; we could really work out whenever we wanted to, but we don’t,” she says. “So if you schedule it, and you’re like ‘my workouts are at this exact time,’ you’re much more likely to actually get it done and focus on the task at hand.”
Malik adds that this tactic of building anticipation and mood could be especially appealing for female partners. “There’s this thing where people expect us all to have this spontaneous desire,” she says, “which maybe as a younger person you had because your hormones are raging, but now as an adult it’s not necessarily there all the time, it takes some effort.”
Philip Ellis is News Editor at Men’s Health, covering fitness, pop culture, sex and relationships, and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV, and he is the author of Love & Other Scams.