When it comes to improving your sex life, most people think about one thing - foreplay. Everyone knows that a bit of kissing and touching before sex can help build anticipation and lay the foundations for optimum pleasure.
But, according to a recent study, it's 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.
Amy Muise, a researcher at the University Of Toronto, studied the effects of after-sex behaviour in monogamous romantic relationships.
“When people think of sex, they tend to be focused on intercourse or orgasm,” said Amy. “This research suggests that other affectionate aspects of sex are important for sexual and relationship satisfaction.”
She 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. It was supported by funding from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and a University of Guelph-Humber Research Grant.