A team of researchers wanted to see if gratitude could improve something called sexual communal strength, which is the degree to which a person is motivated to meet their partner’s sexual needs. People high in sexual communal strength genuinely care about their partner’s pleasure and meeting their partner’s needs, and past research has shown folks with higher sexual communal strength tend to have happier relationships and more sexually satisfying ones. Some studies have even found people with higher sexual communal strength tend to have more sexual desire in general and an easier time getting aroused.
So, how do you increase this coveted quality of sexual communal strength? The researchers’ theory: more gratitude.
The team—including psychologists Ashlyn Brady, Levi R. Baker, Amy Muise, and Emily Impett—tested this theory out over the course of three separate studies.
In one study, the researchers surveyed 185 people in relationships about their sexual communal strength, their experiences of gratitude toward their partner, and the expressions of gratitude they received from their partner. Lo and behold, people who’d had more gratitude in the relationship (both felt and received) tended to have more sexual communal strength.
In another study, they had 118 couples track these gratitude experiences and their levels of sexual communal strength over the course of three months. As the researchers periodically checked in with the couples, they found both experiencing and receiving gratitude was associated with improvements in sexual communal strength over time.
In a third study, they wanted to see if gratitude would cause an increase in sexual communal strength (as opposed to just correlation). So they asked 203 people in relationships to journal about one of four things: a recent experience of having gratitude for their partner, a recent experience of receiving gratitude from their partner, a recent enjoyable experience that had nothing to do with their partner, or a recent neutral experience related to their partner. After the writing exercise, everybody was surveyed about their sexual communal strength—and once again, those who’d journaled about a gratitude experience (whether giving or receiving) reported higher communal strength than the folks who journaled about other things.