White couple in the kitchen, the man feeding the woman a spoon to taste the food they're cooking.
Illustration by Marta Pucci

How Spontaneous is the Sex in Your Relationship?

Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Katherine Hertlein,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:
Photo of Dr Katherine Hertlein
Reviewed by Dr Laura Vowels,
created by Blueheart
created by Josh Green
created by Sophie Browness
Date published:
Last updated:


  • If you believe the movies, most sex is completely spontaneous and comes out of nowhere. But that is not necessarily the case in real life.
  • Some couples schedule in sexy times to ensure they continue to maintain a healthy relationship no matter how busy life gets.
  • There are plenty of tips and tricks to help bring spontaneity back into your bedroom if that’s what you want to do.
  • Having sex can actually improve your libido, which may mean the more sex you have the more you want and therefore the more spontaneous it becomes.


From Basic Instinct to American Beauty and Friends with Benefits to Fifty Shades. Sex, as it’s portrayed in movies, can feel a world away from what’s going on in our own sex life. Can’t it?

One study (1) looked at exactly this, finding that of the top 25 video rentals in 1998, unmarried partners represented 85 percent of sexual behavior compared to 15 percent for married couples. And which do you think were more likely to be engaging in steamy, spontaneous sexual intercourse?

So it’s no surprise that when we compare our real life long-term relationship to these heady scenes we might find them somewhat lacking. Particularly when it comes to spontaneous sex.

Spontaneity versus scheduled sex

There’s often a hot debate about whether it’s better to schedule physical intimacy or wait for it to happen spontaneously. Some people we speak to have the belief that if it’s meant to happen, it will happen. While for others it’s important to keep sex on the agenda. And if that means sticking a time slot in the calendar (metaphorically or literally!) then so be it.

There are valid arguments both ways.

It’s a known fact that sex often becomes less spontaneous in long-term relationships. It might be because life gets in the way, the kids are always under our feet, we're tired or we simply stop prioritizing it as we once might have. Whatever the reason, rest assured it’s completely normal.

For some couples, scheduling sex is the only way to make sure it happens. They report it gives them something to look forward to with anticipation and zero stress about remembering to try and make sure it happens at other times.

But that doesn’t sound very romantic, does it? The problem is, scheduling sex can create a pressure, or type of performance anxiety. If you tend to feel anxious about sex anyway, you might find that anxiety builds. And of course scheduling something will naturally take the spontaneity out of it.

How can you get the spontaneity back in your sex life?

So if scheduling time for intimacy is not for you, or you want to make sure that there’s still an element of anticipation and excitement in the mix, what can you do?

Think about the early days of your relationship; the latent sexual desire. Can you recreate some of the activities you did together or experiences you had? Did you once go to a festival, stay up all night and watch the sun rise in the morning? Do you remember when you both dressed up for that Halloween party and couldn’t wait to rip each other’s costumes off when you got home? Did you used to take showers together regularly? Or kiss with tongues when you saw each other at the end of the day?

Of course, with children in the mix these things are more difficult, we understand that. But that doesn’t have to be an excuse not to try. Small and thoughtful reminders can bring back long-forgotten moments of desire - wake up in time to watch the sun rise or dig out the fishnets you wore with that witch outfit.

Those little sparks, those reminders of shared moments, might just make the difference.

Some quick and dirty tips for sexual spontaneity

Desire doesn’t often come completely out of nowhere, it needs a little helping hand.  Try a few of these ideas for size. But always remember to listen to your partner and make sure they’re on board, too.

  • Plan a date night where you both get dressed up, go out and do something different together. Leave the possibility open for something sexual to happen, but don’t necessarily plan it in. Build anticipation through the evening with leg strokes under the table and flirty words. Try to keep it light. No pressure. Allow the sexual desire to come without forcing it.
  • Flirt with each other and send suggestive texts. You probably did this naturally at the start of your relationship. Jumping with anticipation whenever your phone dinged, or worse when there was a delay in the response. You’re aiming to rekindle those butterflies in the belly moments.
  • If you do manage to offload the kids, and have a romantic dinner planned at home, why not ring the changes. Surprise your partner by heading for the bedroom before you sit down for your starters? That way you’re still wide awake, no-one will have drunk too much and the pressure is off later.
  • Or why not try waking your partner gently in the middle of the night? If you think they’d be receptive to a little midnight tryst, what could be more spontaneous than that?
  • Use our gentle intro to sex questions or our guide to opening up about your sexual fantasies to get the conversation rolling. And for extra spontaneity points why not leave some questions on post-it notes around your home, for your partner to find?

Is spontaneity overrated anyway?

If children are the issue or life seems to just get in the way, it might be useful to broaden your definition of sexual satisfaction for the time being. The traditional approach of dinner followed by a bit of foreplay followed by intercourse and then sleep really isn't the be all and end all of a healthy sex life.

Sometimes you might be in the mood for simplicity, a sensual shower where you wash each other’s backs but don’t go any further. That will take no time over and above your usual activities and will allow for a small, yet valuable, moment of connection to happen.

Or maybe it’s worth accepting that for the time being it’s more important to make sure you keep sex on the table. And if planning in a regular, or semi-regular, slot is the only way to make that happen then so be it. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun; what you do in the session doesn’t have to be planned. You could still spice it up by dressing up or trying out a position you haven’t tried before. Or perhaps take it in turns to take charge.

Even better, it’s said that the more sex you have the more you'll want; having more sex can actually boost your libido. Which means you might find that by scheduling in a chunk of time for those sex sessions, the spontaneity bit follows after all.

If you could use some more help to get back in bed with each other, or even getting back in touch with your sexual self, give Blueheart a try. Take the assessment, we'll put a relevant plan together for you in the app. You'll be up and running (or down and hugging) in no time.

Dempsey, J. & Reichert, Tom. (2000). Portrayal of married sex in the movies. Sexuality and Culture. 4. 21-36. 10.1007/s12119-000-1019-3.

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