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The Link Between Charisma and Sexual Desire

One key: Putting the needs of others before their own.

Key points

  • Charismatic people have a knack for getting others to not only like them but also to follow them.
  • Charismatic people put the needs of others before their own, and this pays off both in the workplace and in the bedroom.
  • Some people are naturally charismatic, but anyone can learn behaviors that boost charisma.

A satisfying sex life is one key to a happy marriage. Research shows a strong correlation between sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction. At the same time, the data also indicate that both drop over the course of a marriage.

And yet, a closer look at the data tells a more complex story. While the frequency of sex and relationship satisfaction trend downward over the years for most couples, some maintain high levels of sexual activity and happiness within their relationship over several decades. So, the question for relationship scientists is this: Who are the lucky couples that can keep the passion burning over the long haul?

According to York University (Canada) psychologist Eric Tu and his colleagues, some research suggests that couples who keep the passion going tend to be high in the personality trait of extraversion. Because of their outgoing and sociable nature, extraverts meet and get to know more people. As a result, they also tend to have more sex and more sex partners than introverts.

However, the data on extraversion and long-term marital happiness is mixed, with some studies finding a correlation and others not. Because of this, Tu and colleagues speculated that perhaps the concept of extraversion is too broad and that what really predicts long-term sexual and relationship satisfaction is a specific type of extraversion. In a paper they recently published, they proposed that charisma may be the personality trait they’re looking for.

Charisma in the workplace

Personality psychologists conceive of charisma as a combination of likability and influence. Charismatic people are extraverted, to be sure, but in addition, they have a knack for getting people to not only like them but also want to follow them. Because of this, charismatic people tend to rise to roles of leadership.

The characteristics of charisma have mostly been studied within organizational and leadership contexts. Charismatic people are likable because they show deep concern for the interests and welfare of others. The people around them are moved by this display of genuine concern, and as a result, they are inspired to follow them.

To be sure, the dynamics of large groups are quite different from those of intimate relationships. Nevertheless, Tu and colleagues propose that charismatic people may also have more satisfying sex lives and marriages due to the genuine concern they show for their partner’s needs.

In terms of relationship science, people who put the needs of the relationship before their own are considered to be high in communal strength. When it comes to the couple’s sex life, those who make it a priority to meet their partner’s needs are said to be high in sexual communal strength. This entails things such as a willingness to engage in sex when their partner is in the mood even when they’re not, as well as an openness to trying new things in the bedroom.

Charisma in the bedroom

In two studies involving more than 500 couples, Tu and colleagues measured levels of charisma, sexual desire, sexual satisfaction, and sexual communal strength. In both studies, the researchers found that charismatic persons experienced great sexual desire and sexual satisfaction.

Charismatic persons also displayed high levels of sexual communal strength in that they were very attentive to their partner’s sexual needs. It should come as no surprise, then, that their partners also reported high levels of sexual and relationship satisfaction, whether they themselves were charismatic or not.

In workplace settings, charismatic persons are known to be passionate colleagues and leaders. This new study by Tu and colleagues shows that they bring this high level of passion into their intimate lives as well. Moreover, this penchant for passion pays off with more satisfying sex and a happier marriage.

But what is the take-home message from this? Personality traits are generally seen as being either innate or set early in life. So, it may be of academic interest to know that people with certain personality traits, such as charisma, have fantastic sex and happy marriages. But how does this help the average person who wasn’t blessed with a naturally charismatic personality?

Can charisma be learned?

Tu and colleagues cite research by Swiss psychologist John Antonakis and colleagues showing that people can learn the behaviors of a charismatic leader in a workplace setting. For instance, charismatic people show their emotions, both in their words and in their gestures, in such a way that they excite the people around them.

Likewise, charismatic people share the sentiments of the collective. That is, rather than trying to impose their will on the group, they instead show interest in the desires of others. It’s this other orientation that makes charismatics so likable.

One can easily see how these characteristics are important for building and maintaining satisfying intimate relationships as well. These characteristics also reflect the behaviors that couples’ counselors and self-help coaches have long been encouraging their clients to adopt, even if they haven’t called them “charisma.”

If you want to be charismatic in the bedroom, try the following. Don’t hide your emotions from your partner, but instead show your genuine feelings. Also, listen carefully to your partner and show that you truly care about their happiness. And finally, set aside your own needs for the moment and focus instead on meeting your partner’s needs, trusting that they’ll meet yours in return.

In doing so, you and your partner can create a virtuous cycle of mutual caring and tenderness that will keep the flames of passion burning for many years to come.

Facebook image: Volodymyr TVERDOKHLIB/Shutterstock


Tu, E., Raposo, S., & Muise, A. (2021). Leading better sex lives: Is trait charisma associated with higher sexual desire and satisfaction in romantic relationships. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Advance online publication.

Antonakis, J., Fenley, M., & Liechti, S. (2011). Can charisma be taught? Tests of two interventions. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 10, 374-396.

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