Scheduling Sex Helps Me Overcome Anxiety and Get in the Mood
This Thursday at 9:30 p.m., I'm going to have an orgasm. How do I know? It's after the kids have gone to bed but before our jam-packed weekend, so my husband and I planned a romantic night at home—and I've been looking forward to it all week.
As someone who has been married for six years and has two kids, I can tell you with absolute certainty that scheduling sex is the best thing I've ever done. Make fun of the "old marrieds" reserving a calendar appointment to get it on all you want, but setting aside intentional time—where I'm not focused on parenting or cleaning or driving my kids around or playing with my dog or writing articles—and just feeling sexy, silly and fun with my husband? It's pretty great.
We started scheduling date nights with each other when we realized how much time unintentionally went by in between sex. Hey, life with kids can be exhausting, especially when they are 4 and 3 years old running wild. Sure, spontaneous sex happens too, but because I have a generalized anxiety disorder, sometimes it's harder for me to get in the mood. Scheduling our intimate times helps me to overcome my anxiety, plan ahead and look forward to sex. By the time Thursday evening comes around, I'm already turned on and ready for a romp in the sheets.
Is scheduling sex OK for my relationship?
Not only is it OK, but scheduling sex can be a sign of a healthy relationship, according to Saba Harouni Lurie, a licensed marriage and family therapist, board-certified art therapist, and owner and founder of Take Root Therapy in Los Angeles.
"People have a tendency to think that the amount of passion and sex that they have at the beginning of a relationship will continue at the same pace throughout the relationship and be an indicator of the health of that relationship in the long term," Lurie said. "In fact, when couples live together, it is not atypical for them to have sex with less regularity, so I would simply encourage folks to rethink how they imagine scheduling sex."
How common is scheduling sex?
Turns out, my husband and I are not alone in our scheduled sex life. Barbara Santini, a Los Angeles–based psychologist and sex and relationship advisor at DimepieceLA.com, said scheduling sex is actually a very common practice for lovers.
"Partners in long-term relationships are likely to have more timetables or dates for sex—approximately 37.1 percent of people in relationships tend to schedule their sex encounters frequently," she said, referencing a study of 1,000 adults conducted by The Sleep Judge, which also found 98.3 percent of those sexually satisfied in their relationship have scheduled sex at least once.
Lurie explained most couples schedule sex, even if they don't realize it.
"There is a common misconception that planning sex means that there is no sense of urgency or desire for one's partner and that by planning sex, you're treating it as you would any other chore on your to-do list," Lurie said. "Realistically, there is almost always some amount of planning or forethought involved in one's intimate relationship, even if scheduling time for sex isn't explicitly agreed upon."
Why is scheduling sex especially a good idea if you have anxiety?
Although scheduling sex can be good for any relationship, I've found it helps ease my anxiety, too. Even though I'm not anxious about sex, specifically, it can be hard for me to turn off anxious thoughts related to work or my personal life and focus on intimacy in the bedroom. Scheduling sex helps give me enough time to overcome those anxieties and be in a better headspace to relax and enjoy sex. I often plan a relaxing candlelit bath beforehand, or we spend quality time together over a late-night dinner or movie.
"For those who struggle with anxiety and with communicating their needs, scheduling sex might be a great way to alleviate some of that stress," Lurie said. "Scheduling sex can also be helpful for someone with anxiety and a lower libido than their partner to find a nice middle ground so that both of their needs get met."
How do you make scheduling sex feel, well, sexier?
If the idea of scheduling sex feels weird at first, I get it. But there are a few easy ways to make it feel sexier.
"Set realistic days that are ideal for both of you and determine how often you will have sex," Santini recommended. "Use wall or phone calendars to mark the dates. This can spike inner sexual desires as you anticipate for your lover."
Because you are scheduling sex, you can get creative.
"Be flexible in your lovemaking, such as set days for foreplay, oral play, penetrative sex or any kinky play," she said. "Then pick sex themes, toys and attires to use on different dates and stick to the schedules."
At the end of the day, the important thing is to just do what feels right for you and your partner.
"Think about what is actually sexy to you, as this is going to be different for different people," Lurie said. "For some, a night in cuddled up on the couch where you can share comfort and intimacy can be really sexy. For others, it could be a big elaborate night of drinks and dancing. Whatever it is, be sure it is something that both parties consent to and feel comfortable with. Nothing is sexier than consent!"
Lurie added that just because it's scheduled, doesn't mean you actually have to have sex.
"If at any point you've scheduled sex with your partner, and you feel as though you would be betraying yourself by having sex, or even if you just don't feel up to it, know that you don't have to," she said. "Sometimes making it an event in your calendar can make one feel pressured to follow through or make it seem like you can't cancel, but you should never feel like you have to have sex if you don't want to."
Scheduling sex works well for me and my husband, and I don't think of it as something to check off my list—it's more like a vacation or a party that I'm really looking forward to. After all, anticipation is half the fun, right?