Dating & Relationships, Sex Ed

What the Most Sexually Satisfied Couples are Doing in (and Out of) Bed

March 9, 2018 by Justin Lehmiller

What keeps passion alive in a long-term relationship? According to a recent study of nearly 40,000 adults (all of whom were heterosexual and currently in romantic relationships), there were five key differences between people who said they were able to keep the passion going and those who weren’t. People who kept the spark alive were more likely to (1) spend time setting the mood, (2) practice sexual communication, (3) receive oral sex, (4) be happier with their relationship in general, and (5) engage in more acts of sexual variety.

While there’s a lot to be said about each of these factors, I want to focus on just one of them in this post—the role of sexual variety. As I’ve written before, we have a tendency to grow tired of sexual routines, while sexual novelties can reawaken our interest in sex. So what are some good ways that couples can add novelty and variety to their sex lives? A great place to start is to look at what the most sexually satisfied couples are doing.

In the table below, you can see 17 different acts of variety and how they differed between sexually satisfied and dissatisfied men and women in the study mentioned at the beginning of this post. What you’ll see is that, across the board, sexually satisfied folks were adding variety to their sex lives in all kinds of ways.


While this list may give you ideas for things you want to try out with your partner, be advised that simply adding novelty or variety to your sex life doesn’t guarantee that you will be happier in the end. If you have fundamental, underlying problems in your relationship, novelty isn’t necessarily what you need. In other words, it’s important for your relationship to be in a good place and for you and your partner to have solid sexual communication before you try to take your sex life in more adventurous directions.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (, Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit ( to receive updates.

To learn more about this research, see: Frederick, D., Lever, J., Gillespie, B.J., & Garcia, J.R. (2017). What keeps passion alive? Sexual satisfaction is associated with sexual communication, mood setting, sexual variety, oral sex, orgasm, and sex frequency in a national US study. Journal of Sex Research.

Image Source: 123RF/Katarzyna Białasiewicz

You Might Also Like:

Post Featured Image
Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

Read full bio >