Sex is good for your relationship – research has shown that to be true again and again. But more sex doesn’t necessarily lead to a happier relationship. Instead, it’s being satisfied with your sex life that makes a big difference.
When it comes to research on sexual satisfaction, an altogether neglected topic is how long it lasts after a romp between the covers. Maybe one of the reasons happiness doesn’t increase beyond once weekly intercourse is that there’s a lingering sexual afterglow that sticks around for days.
At least that’s what a group of researchers from the US got to wondering. For starters, they wanted to find out how long sexual satisfaction lasts after intercourse. They were also interested to see whether people who have a stronger afterglow are happier in their relationships.
The researchers tracked down over 400 newlyweds. First, the lovebirds answered survey questions about how satisfied they were in their marriage. Next, they filled in diary entries for two weeks, recording what they’d been up to, including whether they’d had sex with their partner. Each day, they also reported on how satisfied they were with their spouse and relationship, and with their sex life – even if they hadn’t had intercourse. Finally, at the end of the study, once four or six months had passed, the participants answered the same initial survey questions on marital satisfaction.
The post-sex glow can last for up to two days, the results showed. Having sex leads to biological changes that we think of as sexual satisfaction, past research has found. These changes might stick around for a couple of days after intercourse and continue to be regarded as an afterglow, reason the researchers.
Strengthening the bond
It's a good thing they do, because the stronger the afterglow, the happier a person is in their relationship, the study also found.
In fact, the more sexually satisfied a person is during those couple of days after intercourse, the greater the chance they’ll still be happy down the road in their marriage compared to a person who doesn’t feel the glow.
The sexual afterglow likely helps strengthen the bond between partners over the long-term, conclude the researchers.
Meltzer, A.L. et al. (2017). Quantifying the Sexual Afterglow: The Lingering Benefits of Sex and Their Implications for Pair-Bonded Relationships. Psychological Science. 28(5): 587-98.
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