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Home » How Couples Sustain a Strong Sexual Connection for a Lifetime: Emily Nagoski (Transcript)

How Couples Sustain a Strong Sexual Connection for a Lifetime: Emily Nagoski (Transcript)

Emily Nagoski at TEDxFergusonLibrary

Here is the full transcript of sex educator Emily Nagoski’s talk titled “How Couples Sustain a Strong Sexual Connection for a Lifetime” at TEDxFergusonLibrary conference.

[WARNING: This talk contains mature content]


I’m sitting in a bar with a couple of friends — literally, a couple, married couple. They’re the parents of two young children, seven academic degrees between them, big nerds, really nice people but very sleep-deprived.

And they ask me the question I get asked more than any other question. They go, “So, Emily, how do couples, you know, sustain a strong sexual connection over multiple decades?”

I’m a sex educator, which is why my friends ask me questions like this, and I am also a big nerd like my friends. I love science, which is why I can give them something like an answer. Research actually has pretty solid evidence that couples who sustain strong sexual connections over multiple decades have two things in common.

Before I can tell my friends what those two things are, I have to tell them a few things that they are not.

These are not couples who have sex very often. Almost none of us have sex very often. We are busy. They are also not couples who necessarily have wild, adventurous sex.

One recent study actually found that the couples who are most strongly predicted to have strong sexual and relationship satisfaction, the best predictor of that is not what kind of sex they have or how often or where they have it but whether they cuddle after sex.

And they are not necessarily couples who constantly can’t wait to keep their hands off each other. Some of them are. They experience what the researchers call “spontaneous desire,” that just sort of seems to appear out of the blue. Erika Moen, the cartoonist who illustrated my book, draws spontaneous desire as a lightning bolt to the genitals — kaboom! — you just want it out of the blue. That is absolutely one normal, healthy way to experience sexual desire.

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