(photo by Mr. Hayata via Flickr)

For a better sex life, try a little tenderness

Research shows importance of affection, cuddling after sex

Want a more satisfying sex life and a better relationship with your partner? More post-sex cuddling will do the trick, especially for couples who are parents, according to new research from the University of Toronto Mississauga.

UTM sexuality and relationship researcher Amy Muise studied the effects of after-sex behavior in monogamous romantic relationships. She found that what couples do together after sex has a big impact on how they feel about their own sexual satisfaction and their relationship with their partner.

"When people think of sex, they tend to be focused on intercourse or orgasm,” said Muise. “This research suggests that other affectionate aspects of sex are important for sexual and relationship satisfaction.”

Muise (pictured right) tested the correlation between post-sex affectionate behaviour (such as kissing, caressing and loving talk) and sexual and relationship satisfaction. The two-part study gathered data from an online survey of 335 individuals, and a 21-day survey of 101 couples.

In the online survey, participants reported that they engaged in affectionate behaviour for an average of 15 minutes after sex. In the second study, couples were asked to cuddle for a longer than average duration. Muise’s research showed that couples who spent extra time together reported feeling more satisfied with both their sex lives and their relationship with their partner. The afterglow of post-sex affection proved to be long lasting for couples, with participants reporting higher levels of satisfaction with their sex lives and relationships in a follow-up survey conducted three months later.

Muise’s research found that engaging in post-sex affection, such as kissing, cuddling or affectionate talk, promoted bonding and sexual satisfaction, regardless of the frequency of intercourse.

One surprising finding was the importance of post-sex cuddling for couples with children.

“Parents often have less time for sex and romance. Time spent cuddling after sex had a stronger impact on their relationships than it did for non-parents,” Muise said. “It is possible that additional bonding time after sex is even more important for couples who may face challenges finding time for intimate connection.”

For couples looking for ways to get a little closer, Muise has this advice: “If you are able, spend those extra moments with your partner. Make time for shared intimacy, such as cuddling, kissing and intimate talk.”

The study was published in the recent issue of Archives of Sexual Behavior. (Download the study here: http://www.sprgtoronto.org/wp-content/uploads/Muise-Giang-Impett-2014-A…)

Research was supported by funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and a University of Guelph-Humber Research Grant.

Blake Eligh is a writer with the University of Toronto Mississauga.

The Bulletin Brief logo

Subscribe to The Bulletin Brief