People talk about scheduling sex as though it’s the least sexy thing in the entire world. I vehemently disagree.
In Defense of Scheduling Sex
A major objection that people have about scheduling sex is the idea that you shouldn’t have to make time, that sex should be spontaneous. But who decided that? Was there a Grand Council that sat down and voted on when people should have sex, and under what circumstances?
I don't think so. Plus, if you're like many busy people, if you don't make time for sex, it might not happen. Here's why I'm all for penciling in some time for pleasure.
Making Time for Pleasure
Making time for intimacy can completely change the sexual landscape for those of us who experience more responsive desire than we do spontaneous desire. If you get aroused by sensual touch and experience desire as a result of that, rather than more spontaneous desire, you’re experiencing responsive desire. It’s very common and very healthy. However, people who experience responsive desire may find that a desire for spontaneous sex does not come easily to them. (Dr. Emily Nagoski covers this idea in much greater detail in her book "Come As You Are.") Taking the time to set up a safe space and a great time means that you can nurture your desire.
Very few "shoulds" exist in a healthy sex life. You should use lube when you’re doing anal play. You should take health and safety precautions. Beyond that? You should do what you want. You should do what’s best for you and your partner. You should do what works for you. When you let go of the people's "shoulds," you make room for pleasure.
We Feel Loved When People Make Time for Us
It’s a near-universal human trait that we feel appreciated when someone makes time for us. Think about the last time you really needed someone, and they made the time to be there for you. It nurtures safety, warmth, and love.
Somehow, when we talk about scheduling sex, the concept doesn’t immediately carry over. Scheduling sex is an idea that is usually relegated to jokes about overbearing career women (yawn), or suggested as a solution to couples trying to conceive (important, but not what I’m addressing today).
Reframing the Thought of Scheduling Sex
Before we can reframe the idea of scheduling sex, we need to think about how we discuss it, and how we think about sex in general terms. Are you scheduling sex - or are you setting aside time to explore intimacy with your partner?
Too often, we think of sex in very narrow, heteronormative terms. We see it as a linear progression. There’s romancing, foreplay, penetration, orgasm, with emphasis on orgasm as the end goal. While it’s important to be pleasured, and having an orgasm can be so beneficial to one’s mental and physical health, it can be extremely counter-productive to focus entirely on climax. Putting pressure on having an orgasm can make the whole thing feel like a task instead of an enjoyable and intimate part of your life. This is especially true when you reframe your thought process to scheduling time to explore intimacy as opposed to scheduling sex.
Here’s what I propose. Change the script. Make time, explore, and forget climactic expectations.
Tell your partner something like, “I want to spoil you tonight. Let’s take some time just for us.”
Make your bedroom a place where you can try new things without fear. If you try a position that doesn’t work out (I think we’ve all fallen off the bed a time or two), laugh it off. You aren’t performing for anyone. Setting aside time for intimacy means that you have an hour or three to try new things and learn about your bodies. It’s the antithesis of rushing. We aren’t going for some kind of sexual efficiency here. We’re filling our time with things that feel good, that connect us with our partners.
Double Check Your Priorities
At this point, you might be reconsidering your stance on scheduling sex. I certainly hope you are. Yet, you might also be thinking, “Sarah, what kind of life do you lead that you have three hours to stroke and lick and kiss? This is not realistic!”
This is where planning for intimacy butts heads with popular rhetoric about how often we should be having sex. Just about everyone would agree that there’s no way they could set aside two hours every other day to focus on intimacy. Yet, there’s overwhelming pressure to be having sex at least three to seven times a week. This is why we need to look at our priorities - and not everyone’s are going to be the same.
If you want to have more of the sex you’re already having, talk to your partner about setting aside 30 minutes to an hour every other day to be intimate. If you make it a priority in your schedule, soon it will become second nature.
If you would rather take your time and make intimacy a sort of special event, you may want to think about setting aside a larger block of time less often. For example, you could make a standing date night once a week, where you enjoy a nice dinner or a movie and then some time in the boudoir. This might take three or four hours out of your week, but it’s time well spent because you're investing in your relationship and your own sexual pleasure.
Additionally, trying new things can take time. It’s better to set aside extra time to be confident that you’ve prepared enough to fully enjoy yourself. Take, for example, anal play. If you’re an anal novice, you’re going to need plenty of time to warm up. You may want to watch what you eat for a day or so, to be sure nothing upsets your stomach and threatens your good time. You might want to take an extra-thorough shower beforehand. You will definitely want to be sure that you have the right lubricant, sex toys, and condoms handy. Adding a new experience to your sexual repertoire can take some planning, and some time, but it’s absolutely worth it when you find something you really love.
I’d like to leave you with a quote from my good friend, Caitlin Murphy: “Sex deserves time, intention, and savoring - and often, you have to plan that to do it right.” Don’t let anyone tell you that your scheduled sex is less valid than their spontaneous sex. Sex isn't about competing it's about pleasure. Make that your priority - and make time to make it happen.