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

Kristen P. Mark, Julie A. Lasslo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-581
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Jun 13 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Psychology
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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