Couples Who Have the Best Sex Have This Important Thing in Common

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A new study found that a certain relationship quality helps keep the spark alive.

For spouses or partners who have been together for many years, their sex lives have a lot to do with how they interact outside of the bedroom. A new study finds that couples’ levels of responsiveness—how attentive they are toward each other and how special they make each other feel—is directly associated with how much they desire each other sexually.

The study, published this week in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, takes on a concept known to psychologists as the “intimacy-desire paradox.” The closer and more comfortable people feel with each other, this theory suggests, the less physically attracted they may be. (It’s a big part of why couples often “fall into a rut” or look to “spice things up.”)

But this new research suggests that intimacy doesn’t have to breed boredom and inhibit desire, say the study authors—as long as it’s.