A new study has found that women may be more interested in sex than their partners think they are.

New research by psychologists at the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario shows that men in long-term relationships are badly misreading the signs their wives and girlfriends are sending them.

Which, let’s be honest, doesn’t exactly come as a shock.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the research consisted of three studies, following a total of 229 long-term couples. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 68 years old, had been together for six years on average, and had sex an average of one to two times per week.

The study largely consisted of heterosexual couples, and researchers say the sample of homosexual couples was too small to be statistically significant.

In the first study, 44 couples kept a diary for three weeks. Each partner reported on their own level of sexual desire each day, as well as their perception of their partner’s level of sexual desire and their level of relationship satisfaction.

In the second study, 84 couples came into the laboratory once and reported on the general levels of their desire, their perception of their partner’s desire and their happiness in their relationship.

In the third study, 101 couples kept a diary for three weeks, reporting on the same three issues as the first two groups, but they were also asked to report how motivated they were each day to avoid sexual rejection.

All three studies showed that men consistently underestimate their female partner’s desire, and women have a more accurate feel of whether or not their partner is interested in sex.

However, on the days when the men thought their partner was less sexually interested than she actually was, the women reported being more satisfied in the relationship — and the researchers don’t think this is an anomaly.

“It is better for the relationship for him to under-perceive, because it avoids complacency,” Amy Muise, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto, told the WSJ.

In other words, if a man thinks his female partner is not interested in sex, he will work harder to entice her — which will make the woman feel more satisfied in the relationship.

That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t solve the real problem here — how can women communicate what they really want to men who just don’t get it?

Sex and marriage therapist Sari Cooper told the WSJ that it’s time to give subtlety the flick and send clear signals.

“I will see women in my office who will tell their husband: ‘Remember when I was joking about that sex scene in that movie we saw? Well, I was trying to come onto you.’ He may need something more overt.”

The University of Toronto’s Dr Muise says it’s also important to consider the types of signals your partner might like to receive, and not initiate sex in a way that will actually turn them off.

Dr Muise even suggests scheduling sex with your partner — it may not sound romantic or sexy, but it’s essentially what new couples are doing when they plan dates, and a study published in 2013 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine showed this to be an effective way of boosting sexual satisfaction for couples.

“It lets you get plan and get psyched about it,” Dr Muise told the WSJ. “You’re pre-negotiating a good time.”

How do you keep the spark alive in your relationship? Let us know in the comments below!