The cyclical nature of sex and romance

It’s one of those chicken and the egg-type subjects that has come up periodically over the course of developing Vaalia. Are couples satisfied because they’re experiencing a sufficient amount of romance, which leads to sex, or is it the other way around?

I recently read a fascinating study on what keeps passion alive, which was released from the Journal of Sex Research. One of the biggest takeaways was that couples who reported they were currently satisfied with their relationship not only reported more frequent sexual activity, but more romantic activity as well. However, since the study mainly focused on sex and sexual satisfaction, the authors do note that there’s room for further study into other aspects of relationships.

I will note that from what I’ve seen in my results from user testing and market research, there’s one thing that’s consistent — if a couple is willing and committed to devote time to their partner, it has a positive impact on the relationship.

Sex within the confines of a long-term relationship does generally wax and wane. For instance, sex at the beginning of the relationship tends to happen more frequently, and there’s a lot of passion fueled into those first few months (this is why it’s referred to as the “honeymoon” period). There’s also typically a dry spell during and after pregnancy. It can also be difficult to find time for intimacy when you have kids. However, that doesn’t mean that people who don’t have children don’t experience dry spells, just as those who do have kids make plenty of time for sex.

It’s an important concept that can easily be overlooked if you been with someone for years. On one hands, it’s wonderful to have someone you feel comfortable with, but on the other hand those LTR’s will suffer if one or both people get too lazy, allow other things to distract them, or funnel all their energy just into something else. Our culture has plenty of examples for us to look to when we’re trying to initially court our partner that we tend to forget to keep that effort going once we move in, once we’re married, and once we have kids.

It is worth noting that it would be pretty unreasonable to assume that if a couple is unhappy they should just start having more sex. In reading The 5 Love Languages, there’s one chapter in particular that I take issue with since the advice to one woman was to have sex with her husband at least once a week even though she didn’t feel like that. I strongly feel that the only time anyone should be having sex is when they really want it. Instead, if you want to get back to a place of passion, start with everything but the sex. Small notes in the morning to remind your partner that you care about them, a backrub when they get home from work, plan out a date night together. Even the smallest gesture can mean something.

Sex often starts long before you get into the bedroom, so if you and your partner work to create the conditions that, at one time, led to sex, then start there. Create the space for connection and romance, and eventually, the sex will follow.

That’s definitely been the most rewarding part of doing user testing for Vaalia — seeing all the great sex folks are having as a result!

Morgan Sherwood is the Founder and CEO of; a service designed to help couples nurture their relationship. If you’re interested in signing up for user testing, visit us at