Broadening your horizons: Self-expanding activities promote desire and satisfaction in established romantic relationships.

In the early stages of romantic relationships, sexual desire is often intense, but over time, as partners get to know each other, desire tends to decline. Low sexual desire has negative implications for relationship satisfaction and maintenance. Self-expansion theory suggests that engaging in novel activities with a long-term romantic partner can reignite feelings of passion from the early stages of a relationship. Across 3 studies using dyadic, daily experience, longitudinal, and experimental methods, we find evidence for our central prediction that engaging in self-expanding activities with a partner is associated with higher sexual desire. In turn, we found that higher desire fueled by self-expansion is associated with greater relationship satisfaction. Self-expansion, through sexual desire, is also associated with an increased likelihood that couples will engage in sex, and when they do engage in sex, they feel more satisfied with their sexual experiences. We also demonstrate that the benefits of self-expansion for relationship satisfaction are sustained over time, and that the effects cannot be attributed solely to increases in positive affect, time spent interacting with the partner or closeness during the activity. Implications for self-expansion theory and sexual desire maintenance in relationships are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)