How Sex Lives Change After the Engagement

Six reasons why getting engaged may super-size his sex drive

The moment he slips that rock on your finger, congratulations pour in. A blizzard of details hits, plus advice from nearly everyone you’ve ever met. The chaos of wedding planning begins.

Behind closed doors, some couples experience other changes. Changes they don’t discuss with the in-laws while debating entrée options. Often, their sex lives become surprisingly hot—and not just for a few short days after the proposal. There’s the cliché that a guy forking over the ring starts the slow slide to sexual doldrums; it does happen for some. But many men find that getting engaged actually adds sizzle to their bedrooms. Here’s why.

He’s On A High.
When we first fall in love, thinking of our partner leads us to produce dopamine, says Sallie Foley, director of the Center for Sexual Health at the University of Michigan. Our brain releases the hormone when we do something novel and fun, like taking a trip. In turn, that dopamine shot brings pleasure and raises our testosterone levels—one reason new couples can’t keep their hands off each other.

“This intensity rarely lasts longer than 18 months,” says Foley. When the initial thrill settles down, we lose that daily dopamine drip. Then, wham! The novelty of getting engaged causes our dopamine geysers to erupt and testosterone levels to surge again.

This mechanism of brain chemistry helps fuel the excitement in engagement sex—just like it does in hotel sex, where the novelty of new surroundings triggers our dopamine jets. It’s also a reason your newly engaged guy may suddenly be getting more female attention. Not only is he officially off the market, and thus all the more desirable, but his elevated testosterone levels also may give him a more masculine aura and greater confidence, which women tend to pick up on. Sensing this can make him feel studlier and more self-assured, translating to a bolder approach in the bedroom.

He Feels Like An Adult.
For some men, settling down and no longer “playing the field” can mark the end of a protracted adolescence; he now sees himself as mature and ready for the responsibilities of marriage. This can instill a sense of satisfaction and stability that can be sexy—and make him more relaxed in bed.

“When you know that this is it for you, you put all your energy into a relationship, and you’re focused on that,” says Lorenzo Joyce, of Lindenwold, NJ, who popped the question in August 2007. Sex has a deeper mental connection for him now, Lorenzo says, even though he and his fiancée were living together before he proposed.

“Getting engaged is a developmental milestone for a man. It marks the end of the ‘swordsman’ (he tries to bed all the women he can) phase and the beginning of the next, as a grown man who can commit,” explains Boston-based sex therapist Aline Zoldbrod, Ph.D. Men react differently. Some, like Lorenzo, feel a sense of validation and lust-generating machismo, embracing the right to enjoy sex fully, without hang-ups and inhibitions carried for years. For other men, the realization that bachelorhood is over weakens their sexual desire, notes Dr. Zoldbrod.

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