They may act tough, but when it comes right down to it, men may enjoy cuddling just as much as women.
By Jonathan Shorman
Researchers at Indiana University found that men who reported frequently kissing or cuddling with their partner were more likely to be happy in their relationship than those who did not. Women also experienced a cuddle boost, but the effect was smaller.
The study, published in the August Archives of Sexual Behavior, online now, surveyed over 1,000 couples living in Japan, Brazil, Spain, Germany and the United States. All of the men who took the questionnaire were between 40 and 70 years old and had been either married or living with their partner for at least one year. Researchers examined relationship happiness as well as sexual satisfaction.
Men who kissed and cuddled were three times more likely to be happy in the relationship than men who didn't. Women who often kissed and cuddled were 1.59 times more likely to be happy in the relationship than those who didn't, but the difference for women wasn't considered statistically significant.
When it came to sexual satisfaction, though, both men and women who kissed and cuddled with their partner reported greater sexual satisfaction than those who didn't. Those who reported touching their partner sexually, regardless of whether intercourse occurred, reported higher levels of sexual satisfaction as well.
Previous research hasn't focused as much on mid- to later life individuals, says the study's lead author, Julia Heiman, a psychology professor and director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University, Bloomington. "It's a different phase of life and a lot of health complications come to bear," Heiman says.
The study found that the more sexual partners a man had over the course of his life, the less likely he is to be sexually satisfied in the relationship. On average, men had had 11.9 sexual partners, while women had had 4.9. Heiman says that some men "could be promiscuous," but some could be looking for something they haven't yet found.
While men were more likely to report greater relationship satisfaction the longer the duration of the relationship, women were more likely to report that sexual satisfaction increased with the duration of the relationship.
Relationship satisfaction also varied by country. Japanese couples were happier than American couples and Brazilians and Spaniards were less happy in their relationships than Americans. Japanese men were more likely to be sexually satisfied in their relationships than Americans. Brazilian and Spanish women were more likely to be sexually satisfied than their American counterparts. Reasons for the differences are unclear.
"In terms of relationship satisfaction, the U.S. is not necessarily in the lead in this study," Heiman says.