Written by Jamie J. LeClaire.
Art by Isabel Couchoud Bataller.
It’s no surprise that many of us cringe at the idea of planning or scheduling sex. We’re raised on media that often depicts (partnered) sex as a spur-of-the-moment, spontaneous surge of mutual lust and desire. It’s all we ever see! Too often, characters are depicted as acting purely on salient sexual impulses. Without conversation, they proceed to rip each other’s clothes off and have passionate and impromptu (cis-hetero, penis-in-vagina) sex, right then and there.
These become the stories we tell ourselves about how and when sex is supposed to happen, and it is conditioning us to set unrealistic, unsafe, and sometimes just downright impossible expectations.
In turn, planning or scheduling sex is now associated with a lot of shame and embarrassment. It’s deemed “unsexy,” and written about as something that only busy married couples with children have to incorporate to try to “save the marriage.”
Well, I’m here to tell you that those notions are trash — not to mention ableist and potentially dangerous. Not only is planning and scheduling sex a necessity for a lot of people (disabled folks, parents, older folks, etc.), it’s something everyone can do to improve their sex lives and to have mind-blowing partnered sex. Take it from me, take it from the kink community, take it from sex workers, take it from disabled folks: planning sex
can be is fucking hot!
Take it from me, take it from the kink community, take it from sex workers, take it from disabled folks: planning sex
can beis fucking hot!
There are so many reasons why planning sex can offer us so many more opportunities for pleasure in the bedroom — here are a notable few:
Desire and arousal aren’t one-size-fits-all.
There’s a cultural narrative about how sex is supposed to happen, and how we experience the desire for it. The expectation is that we initially develop this intense mental craving for sex that ignites physical arousal, and then we’re to act on it. This type of desire is what Emily Nagoski, sex researcher and author of Come As You Are, refers to as “spontaneous desire.” But that’s not the only way that our minds and bodies function when it comes to sexual pleasure. It’s just as valid to experience what Nagoski refers to as “responsive desire,” and also very common. Responsive desire is when your body feels a physical readiness for sex, or responds to the arousal of the body or the senses, before experiencing mental desire.
How common is it? Very! According to Nagoski’s research, around 30% of people with vulvas report experiencing a responsive desire. 55% experience a bit of both responsive AND spontaneous. About 5% of cisgender men reported a responsive desire, and 20% said they’d experienced both. It’s also important to keep in mind that these are reported numbers. Because there is still a toxic cultural expectation for cis men to be the “aggressor” and a “pursuer,” they might feel shame or embarrassment around their tendency towards responsive desire.
People who tend to lean more toward responsive desire have so much to benefit from planning sex! Instead of waiting around for that spark of excitement that might not ever come, you can take matters into your own hands. By clearly dedicating time and space for “getting down” — with yourself OR with a partner — you allow yourself the opportunity to arouse the senses in an intentional and focused way.
Conversations and communication are essential to safe and pleasurable sex.
Communication is another critical part of enjoyable sex, but it doesn’t often happen in mainstream media since it challenges Hollywood’s heat-of-the-moment and male-gazey narrative. There are certain things we should be discussing with our potential partner(s) before getting down. In the real world, it shouldn’t be acceptable to bypass these critical conversations. Not only should you be having conversations beforehand about safer sex methods, birth control, and STI status, you should also get comfortable talking about pleasure. That means discussing boundaries and non-negotiables beforehand, talking about what you like and don’t like in bed, mentioning any physical limitations you might have, and more.
Explicitly planning sex makes space for communication around disclosure and discovery with a potential partner. And that can ultimately help you both/all have the most enjoyable and pleasurable time.
Communication is another critical part of enjoyable sex, but it doesn’t often happen in mainstream media since it challenges Hollywood’s heat-of-the-moment and male-gazey narrative.
Anticipation is a powerful tool of arousal.
Another benefit to planning sex is the anticipation — the build-up. The “omg, can’t wait any longer; I’m aching for it!” anticipation helps to build sexual tension. The prospect of a sexy romp can get those wheels turning in your brain and have you fantasizing about all the pleasurable possibilities. When sex is planned or scheduled, it makes room for so many fun and exciting ways to build up the intensity of the anticipation.
This includes things like:
- Flirting and/or sexting — talk about what you want to do with your partner(s)
- Exchanging sexy pics (consensually)
- Using wearable pleasure products (especially ones that can be controlled by the partner remotely)
- Role-playing! Try out a different identity or scenario to increase the excitement
- Watching porn that you like, either alone or together, OR find clips that depict what you want to do with your partner(s) to send them (consensually). With this, you can also help them get to know what you like in bed!
- Buying a new toy or outfit!
Not only can anticipation ignite arousal and heighten our awareness of our sensuality, but it also makes for some mind-blowing sex.
Unlearning the messages we’ve internalized about what sex “should be” takes a concerted effort, but embracing a broader conceptualization of what sex and pleasure is opens up a world of opportunity for being a sexual person. Now get out there and send your partner(s) a Google Cal invite — it might just be the key to unlocking your next big O.
Jamie J. LeClaire (they/them) is a sex educator and writer. Their work centers around the intersections of sexual pleasure and wellness, queer and trans identity, body politics, BDSM/kink, and non-monogamy. Check them out on Instagram and Twitter.