Like dreaming of a future job in pharmaceutical sales, scheduling sex is not the sort of thing most of us imagine for the cool, sexy grown-up future in which we’re finally getting laid.
It sounds like an activity on a whiteboard in the home of a sad couple whose love life has all but dissipated, going through the motions because the thrill is lost. It feels clinical, too, like hiring a sex worker: Pick a specific time to show up, drop trou and fuck.
It’ll get the job done, of course, but is it any way to live?
What if I told you that one study found that 36 percent of newlyweds — you know, people who should be fucking around the clock — have to schedule sex. What if I told you that another study found that 52 percent of couples have to put it on the calendar, and it’s almost always because they have kids. What if I told you that some people say it really does save their relationship and sex life, and makes not only desire develop, but the sex is so good it’s intoxicating?
If the accounts are to be believed, scheduling sex is worth its salt in every “Fuck Night” calendar notification, because it rehabilitates marriages, gets you laid, gets you off and gets you right back on that tiresome hamster wheel you call a life.
Still, no one would blame you for dreading the idea. This is why all articles about scheduling sex begin with the same premise: Scheduling sex is “about as romantic as a root canal,” says one typical article. It’s like “settling on missionary every Wednesday night at 8:05 p.m.,” says another.
Let’s clear up some of the misconceptions.
It’s Not That Different From Normal Sex
If you have a long distance relationship, you already schedule sex. If you have two busy jobs on different schedules, you schedule sex. If you plan a date and it’s the only time you’re going to see someone you’re also fucking, you’ve just scheduled sex. If you have kids, and you can’t really fuck until they go to sleep and you go to bed and have emptied the dishwasher and cleaned up dinner, then you schedule sex.
You don’t need a Google doc to do it. You wait until an agreed upon time (spoken or not) and may not even bother to try for sex the rest of the time. So all you’re doing now is saying it out loud (or in a text) that you want to fuck later, or have been thinking about fucking them all day, or can’t wait until later tonight or next Saturday when the kids are gone to service them. You can be more or less informal about it as suits your personality. This is not rocket science, or the bonerkiller it’s made out to be. We should probably just change the name. Stop calling it scheduling sex, and just call it what it is: Planned Sex. Or, Having Sex Later.
The Problem Is Not Sex, It’s Us
A big reason why it sounds so pathetic is that in your teens and 20s, you think sex practically grows on trees. It’s everywhere, and it comes together somehow with very little effort. You show up somewhere, point at a woman you like, grunt and the next thing you know you’re fucking.
Even if that’s never happened to you, you still probably thought it should. What’s more, you still probably picture that when you’re older and a woman agrees to actually date you or move in, you’ll get laid all the time just because you’re next to each other, all naked and shit. Also false!
What no one explains is that you still have to make an effort to get laid—even by your committed partner. You still gotta try and keep the spark alive. Hold in some farts and go out to dinner sometimes.
Not Fucking All the Time Is Normal, Too
The other big reason sex scheduling is necessary is because life creeps in on your dong action. Adult relationships, unless they are the crazy, toxic, dysfunctional kind, quickly hit an inevitable stable equilibrium of work, socializing and any other activities many of us do want: children, family time, working out, volunteering, etc. (Again, the biggest reason sex needs scheduling is children.)
Having a somewhat predictable boring relationship is actually a good thing. You want a stable, normal routine with someone you love, especially if your house is full of crying, shitting, helpless creatures. But we’ve been primed on the novelty of sex, the thrill of the chase and the excitement of how the night ends. They say familiarity breeds contempt, but the truth is it mostly just breeds familiarity. And familiarity is a snoozefest wrapped in a gravity blanket. Feels great. You just don’t want to fuck it.
Not always, of course! Some people have incredible, varied, stimulating sex lives their entire lives with the same person! But chances are, if you’re reading this in the first place, that’s not you.
Most People Only Have Sex Twice a Week Anyway
Or rather, happy couples have sex once or twice a week. Not around the clock. Unhappy couples are told to have sex twice a week (or to try) because that’s what happy couples do. That’s literally the reason it’s recommended. But if you like doing it once a month and you’re fine, you’re fine. If you do it every morning, fine. The point is, figure out however much the two of you want sex, and come up with a compromise. If that’s not possible, consider scheduling sex.
Stop Thinking of Planned Sex as Boring
It’s basically a date that has removed all uncertainty. That’s actually a relief, isn’t it? Knowing you will get laid is an improvement on 98 percent of most of your dates for most of your adult life. People still advise you to schedule dates once you’re married and have kids as it is. You can buy tickets to a show or a sporting event and be excited the whole way up and all through the night, right? How is this different? All you’ve done is purchase an advanced ticket for the upcoming event called Fucking. This is a smart investment!
Part ways with the idea that the only good sex is spontaneous, or that it hinges entirely on “will we or won’t we.” That might have been true in college, but the fact is, you’re already in a committed relationship with someone you want to fuck. So fuck when you can, even if you need a little notice. Who cares if you planned it?
Just Make Sure You Still Make Effort
Have a date set? Nice. There’s none of that nervousness of whether she wants to fuck you or not. This is better off than you were before agreeing to scheduled sex. So all you have to do is not break that spell. Earn it a little. This date will be charming and light and fun. This date will end in fucking. Don’t belch the alphabet during dinner. Tell her she’s sexy and amazing looking, and tell her things you want to do to her when you get her clothes off.
Commit to a ‘Bare Minimum’
Sex therapist Vanessa Marin advises sex-scheduling couples to at least agree to a one specific activity you’ll do during these sessions. Maybe you’ll cuddle. Maybe you’ll masturbate next to each other. You can go all the way to home base if you feel like it. But if you don’t, you’re off the hook and you still made a connection.
If That Doesn’t Work, Reschedule
Of course, you could show up to your Bare Minimum Sex Date and not even feel like phoning in that back rub. That came up in a Reddit thread asking couples how scheduling had worked out for them, when one person responded:
Scheduled sex works with us. We identify together two favorable moments in the coming week like Wednesday and Sunday. My wife prefers a minimum of 3 days between occurrences and we do sex twice a week. When one is tired or not in the mood, we reschedule as soon as possible but in order to respect the twice a week frequency.
Scheduled sex takes the initiation and the rejection out of the equation. You can look forward with pleasure to a date. On the no sex days, you can cuddle/kiss without any expectation of sex. But it takes two to tango.
Adopt This Mantra
Of course, if you just keep rescheduling your fuck date, you might be back where you started, never fucking and now even more unhappy. Or, worse, making your partner feel obligated to put out when they’re not in the mood at all. That’s why you have to really get your head right about this. A good bit of advice came up in a Reddit thread asking sex therapists what they wish more people knew. One answer stood out:
For couples with mismatched sex drives (which is the majority of couples): Ask yourself whether or not, when you really get things going, you enjoy having sex. If the answer is yes, remind yourself of that when your partner makes advances. In a lot of cases you will find that you don’t want to start having sex, not that you don’t want to be having sex.
This is really the entire premise of scheduling sex: If you can’t find the time to do it, or you’re both too busy or exhausted when you do have time, you have to remember that the act of fucking feels good, even if the idea of making it happen seems dreadful.
In other words, if you want to agree to fuck at a certain time, you need to remember that when 8:05 p.m. on Wednesday rolls around and it’s business time, you might not feel like it, but you can put on that fuck hat and get to work. Give yourself and your partner a chance to get in the mood.
But Don’t Freak Out When It’s Not Perfect
Also give it a chance to evolve or find a rhythm. One Reddit commenter who schedules sex said that he can feel his wife “putting in the effort, even if it is somewhat starfish or not full on.” But instead of getting upset, he actually still gives her credit for showing up and trying at all:
I give her credit and I also acknowledge that to her that I sensed the effort even if she wasn’t fully dialed in and going all out. I tell her how much that means and that is one of the things that keeps us going on the schedule.
I think folks blow it right here trying scheduling when it’s not some full on lust fest and it feels routine. You give up or don’t give your partner credit for even trying, if they may not be in the mood, and then you get some resentment building up.
Don’t make it like that. It may not sound sexy having your partner tell you to “go for the reliable and finish up” but I would say that is quite sexy to me having a partner who knows what you need and taking care of you.
Removing the Pressure of Sex Is Pretty Sexy
Women often complain that they wish men would stop pestering them for sex so they could get around to initiating it themselves sometimes. A similar principle is true with scheduling sex. Once that pressure is off, you’re more relaxed and can still mess around, be intimate or affectionate, or even build up to when you know you’ll be doing it. “I would generally not consider scheduled sex as an viable option, but taking the stress/pressure off non-sex days is actually a valid point to start from when one is coming out of a rocky patch,” one commenter noted.
You Can Still Do All the Kinky Stuff You Love
Your mileage may vary, but this woman who says scheduling sex saved her marriage explains that she made far more effort to be ready for the scheduled sex than she ever did before — lingerie, “lady pruning” and setting the scene. What’s more, because they had the time carved out, she and her husband actually built in trying new things, like talking dirty or trying new positions. This could finally be your chance to break out that daddy talk, OK? Schedule that shit.
It Still Might Not Work Out for You
That said, some sex-challenged relationships might have something else going on under the hood. I think one overlooked idea from the sex-scheduling cheerleaders is that some problems go far deeper than simply lack of time, and need to be addressed in therapy. If your partner has been rejecting you for years, forcing a weekly time to do the sex is not going to fix the simmering resentment or lack of genuine connection underneath your stalemate. One Reddit commenter said scheduling just didn’t work so well:
Not good so far! After our last “talk” a month ago she agreed to it, but then it never happened. Her reason: I didn’t explicitly ask/initiate on those days, and she never will because she’s too tired etc. I told her that part of the point of scheduling was that I didn’t need to initiate because I had been so badly fucked up by 10 years of constant rejection!
Anyway, I’ve now resolved to start initiating again on (and only on) the scheduled days — which is once per week. I’m also planning on building in some “intimacy without sex” days now and again.
Another commenter noted that you can lead the horse to water, and you can make it drink, but you can’t make it like it:
It didn’t work for us because we were both so busy. Scheduled sex could work if you spend a lot of time at home or have consistent schedules, but kids don’t tend to care about your sex schedule, and having to turn down hanging out with friends because your SO won’t reschedule is frustrating.
Even when we did make scheduled sex work, it wasn’t like everything got better. We just knew exactly when passionless, unsatisfying sex would begin. At the end of the day, if you don’t love having sex with your SO, it really doesn’t matter when you do or don’t do it.
But for Some People, It’s a Game Changer
It might be a weird analogy, but when you’re learning how to be a writer, one bit of common advice is to get up every day at the same time and sit in front of a blank page until “it” comes (meaning, inspiration), no matter how blocked you are, or how lacking in original material you might be. This approach works for fixing a sexual dry spell, too. In this case, show up at a certain time every week until you eventually come:
It turned our marriage around. … I realized after we tried it how it works so well for my wife’s LL [low libido] as she has plenty of time to prepare herself for sex and also knows that all week long I won’t be pressuring her for sex and getting mad at being rejected. She loves that when I give a massage on a nonscheduled nights, I’m not secretly angling for sex. … Scheduled sessions are not always successful, sometimes it starts and just stalls — but the bottom line is that we keep trying.
Hey, if nothing else, always remember this: Planned sex is better than no sex. So get out your calendar, draw a dick and balls on it for Saturday night and look alive.
Tracy Moore is a staff writer at MEL. She last wrote about the mental technique you can use to make exercising suck less.