Keeping the flame ignited in a long-term relationship isn’t about tantra or buying her new lingerie (though those may not hurt either).
Instead, the secret to lasting sexual desire is something called responsiveness, researchers say.
Great! So…what the heck is that?
That’s when you show your partner that you value them—that you understand and appreciate their needs and support their goals, says study author Gurit Birnbaum, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel.
“It signals to your partner that you are really concerned with their welfare and that they are special,” she says.
In a set of three studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology researchers first examined couples’ online and face-to-face communication. Then they had the participants record their sexual desire and how responsive they felt their partner was daily.
They discovered that a responsive partner made their partner feel special—and, for women in particular, the more responsive their partner was, the more sexually desirable they were.
If your significant other feels valued and cared for, she’ll appreciate you more—and that leads to more desire.
“Responsiveness conveys the impression that you feel your partner is worth pursuing, and thus engaging in sex feels like it’s improving an already valuable relationship,” Birnbaum says.