How spooning can make or break your relationship
Attention all little spoons: New research shows that your love for cuddling might be the best thing to ever happen to your bond. Couples who spend more time showing affection after sex feel more satisfied with their sex lives, and in turn, with their relationship in general, according to a recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Researchers at universities in Toronto conducted two studies. In the first study, 335 participants (138 men and 197 women, all of whom were in romantic relationships and 90 percent of whom were heterosexual), completed an online survey about relationship and sexual satisfaction, their sex lives, and affection. Surprisingly, sex duration and foreplay didn’t predict relationship satisfaction, but post-coital cuddling did. (Big, little, and all spoons rejoice!) Researchers found that people who spend more time on post-sex affection—like cuddling, kissing, caressing, spooning, or expressing their love for each other—are more satisfied in their relationships and feel more sexually satisfied. This is especially true for couples with kids. While women’s relationship happiness depends more heavily on cuddling and canoodling than men’s, researchers also found that post-sex affection indirectly affects men’s happiness—it increases their sexual satisfaction, which in turn increases their relationship satisfaction.
For the second study, 101 couples (94 percent of which were heterosexual) answered questions about their sex lives, post-sex affection, and satisfaction with sex and their relationship every day for three weeks. Researchers found that on days when couples spent more time showing post-sex affection, they were also more sexually satisfied and more satisfied with their relationship than usual. Plus, those who felt these benefits during the three-week study were more likely to be happy with their sex lives and relationships three months down the line.
Of course, this may seem a little obvious—wouldn’t a couple who was head-over-heels for each other be more likely to cuddle after doing the deed anyway? But even though the effects could go both ways, the strongest effects were from after-sex affection to satisfaction, says study coauthor Amy Muise, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto. This might have to do with the fact that cuddling is a positive post-sex reward; since it makes us feel good, we’re more likely to want to do it again, and we get closer to each other in the process. Plus, the power of touch can have major mental and physical benefits. While they can’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, Muise notes, “I think couples should be aware that the period after sex could be particularly important for bonding and that, if possible, spending more time being affectionate after sex could enhance feelings of sexual and relationship satisfaction.” So we officially give you permission to cuddle a little bit longer tonight—for your relationship’s sake!
Curated by Erbe