The phrase "scheduled sex" evokes dread for most couples. We have the idea that sex is always supposed to be spontaneous, so making the decision to schedule sex feels like an admission that your sex life is officially dead. But scheduled sex actually be way more fun than you think. Here's how.
Illustration by Jim Cooke.
Get on Board With Scheduled Sex
Endlessly spontaneous sex is the dream for most couples, but the reality is that it isn't typically sustainable in the long term. When you're dating someone brand new, you're willing to make incredible sacrifices in your life to make space for that person. As time goes on, life catches up. Most of us are so busy we don't have time to spontaneously read a book, much less spontaneously have sex. For many couples, scheduling sex is the only way to ensure that they actually have sex. Yes, it's sad to recognise how complicated it can be to make the space for sex. It's OK to mourn your old sex life, but don't let that prevent you from creating a new sex life.
Scheduling sex helps on a logistical level, but it goes deeper than just blocking off an hour of time in your calendar. It's a way of showing you and your partner that you value your sex life. We schedule the things that are important to us. Why should sex be any different?
And keep in mind that scheduling sex doesn't mean you'll never have spontaneous sex again. In fact, many people who schedule sex also wind up having way more spur-of-the-moment sex than they had previously.
Decide What Kind of Scheduling Works for Your Life
You can make scheduling sex feel much more personal -- and more exciting -- if you and your partner have a conversation about the type of scheduling that usually works for other activities in your life. If you're hyper-scheduled people, the detail-oriented parts of your brains may enjoy having a sit-down at the beginning of the month and scheduling specific time blocks for intimacy. If you like consistency, you may want to agree that Fridays are always your day for doing it. If your schedule is always in flux, I recommend planning your sex dates one at a time.
You may want to talk about scheduling right after you've just had sex. That's a perfect time to plan, since you're riding the high of your most recent rendezvous.
Agree to a Bare Minimum
One of the problems with scheduled sex is that you may not be in the mood when your sex date comes around. That's why I encourage couples to create a "bare minimum" agreement. Pick one activity that feels totally manageable to you. It might be something like masturbating side by side or cuddling naked together. When you make a sex date, you're agreeing to a bare minimum of a specific activity. If you feel like doing more, that's great! If not, you'll still have an opportunity to connect.
Alternately, you can agree to give each other a certain number of free passes per month, where you can skip your sex date, no questions asked.
Treat It Like a Date
It's important to remember that sex wasn't always spontaneous, even in those exciting early stages. When you're dating someone new, you're still planning sex, just in a different way. You set dates with each other, and you may know days or even weeks in advance that you're probably going to be getting into their pants. Having a date on the calendar actually creates an incredibly sensual anticipation.
You can bring back that element of anticipation. Get gussied up for each other like you used to before your dates. Fantasise about your date throughout the day. Send flirty texts or emails. Do whatever you used to do to get yourself worked up.
Turn It Into a Game
For some reason, people equate scheduled sex with boring sex. But it certainly doesn't need to be! Here's a simple idea: Cut up a bunch of squares of paper, and write down some of your favourite sexual activities or experiences. For example, sex positions, toys, role-playing scenarios and so on. You can also include things you've never tried before, but have been curious about. Fold up all of the slips and put them in a jar. The morning of your sex date, pull one out at random. Then you'll have all day to plan and anticipate it. Or you can make your selection in the moment itself for a sexy surprise.
You can also play with gamification. Make an agreement with your partner that if you guys follow through on all of your scheduled dates for a month, you'll treat yourselves to a nice dinner out.
Try Different Activities
Another fun way to play is to mix up your usual sexual repertoire. If you typically default to intercourse, try creating themed sex dates where intercourse is off the table. You can even create theme days, such as oral sex on Thursdays or mutual masturbation on Saturdays.
Take Turns Being in Charge
Take turns taking the lead on your sex dates. Ask your partner what conditions they like to have in place in order for sex to feel enjoyable. Maybe they need the bedroom to be clean, the kids to be asleep, or 20 minutes of foreplay. When it's your turn to be in charge, do your best to get all of those elements in place. You can also set the mood however else you like, perhaps by putting on your favourite music or sending your partner teasing messages. Taking turns in this way helps you each feel cared for and seduced.
Schedule Non-Sexual Relationship Time Too
Another way to get more comfortable about scheduling sex is to be more active about scheduling non-sexual time with your partner. Schedule date nights out, new activities, or just quality alone time together. Doing so really helps drive home the message that you're scheduling time with your partner because you value them, not because they're another item on your to-do list.
Thank Each Other
Maintaining an active sex life takes a lot of work! It's important for you and your partner to acknowledge and thank each other for that work. After each sex date, take a few minutes to thank your partner for being willing to put in that effort with you. Be specific about how that effort made you feel. For example, "I feel so close to you when we carve out this time for each other." We all love being recognised and validated for our efforts. Plus, taking the time to thank each other will help you recognise that you're working together as a team to create the sex life you both want.