Never underestimate the power of touch! Cuddling, massages, hand-holding…we girls just can’t seem to get enough! Guys too, although they may not be as quick to admit it. But does loving physical contact after sex actually improve a relationship? And can you actually prove this correlation? Science says YES, and I say HOORAY, SCIENCE!
Some recent research at the University of Toronto Mississauga shows that a little post-nooky spooning can help improve your relationship. The study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, shows that “kissing, caressing, and loving talk” after intercourse are all associated with greater sexual and relationship satisfaction.
Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D., a licensed marriage and sex therapist, says that the chemical oxytocin is likely the main driver behind this phenomenon. Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone”; it’s released as a result of pleasurable physical contact and has been shown to increase bonding. Staying physically close after sex can also act as a form of nonverbal communication. “It can help you relax, inhibit any sensations of pain—emotional or physical—and help reinforce to your partner that you are invested and committed to them,” says Van Kirk.
Other benefits include the simple fact that closeness can lead to more sex. “Cuddling can help keep you aroused for another roll in the hay,” says Van Kirk.
The study had some interesting results regarding who benefits the most from post-sex cuddling. Couples with children has the biggest results, likely because of limited time for cuddling with each other during the day. Women, in general, exhibited a larger benefit than me in the study, though men did report a noticeable improvement in their relationships and sex lives, too.
So you’re probably wondering. What it the perfect amount of time to snuggle with your partner? Aim for more than 15 minutes—that’s what the people in the study who said they were happiest with their relationships did. Personally, I think that 15 minutes is simply not long enough, but hey, science, amiright?