EKU Faculty and Staff Scholarship


Maintaining Sexual Desire in Long-Term Relationships: A Systematic Review and Conceptual Model


Health Promotion and Administration

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The most universally experienced sexual response is sexual desire. Though research on this topic has increased in recent years, low and high desire are still problematized in clinical settings and the broader culture. However, despite knowledge that sexual desire ebbs and flows both within and between individuals, and that problems with sexual desire are strongly linked to problems with relationships, there is a critical gap in understanding the factors that contribute to maintaining sexual desire in the context of relationships. This article offers a systematic review of the literature to provide researchers, educators, clinicians, and the broader public with an overview and a conceptual model of nonclinical sexual desire in long-term relationships. First, we systematically identified peer-reviewed, English-language articles that focused on the maintenance of sexual desire in the context of nonclinical romantic relationships. Second, we reviewed a total of 64 articles that met inclusion criteria and synthesized them into factors using a socioecological framework categorized as individual, interpersonal, and societal in nature. These findings are used to build a conceptual model of maintaining sexual desire in long-term relationships. Finally, we discuss the limitations of the existing research and suggest clear directions for future research.

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Journal of Sex Research

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