It’s not often I get to share results from a large scientific study of what makes relationships satisfying and passionate. Getting nitty gritty results about what makes sex and love work from almost 40,000 Americans is no mean feat.
One of the most satisfying things about this study to me is the fact that their findings match the kind of advice we sex therapists give out on a regular basis.
The respondents were either married or cohabiting heterosexual men and women in the United States who had been with their partners for at least three years. The average age of the sample was 40 for women and 46 for men.
Here’s what they found:
• Sexually satisfied men and women engaged in more loving behaviors like cuddling, gentle kissing, deep kissing, and laughing during sexual activity.
• They spiced up their sexual activities by incorporating variety (like new sexual positions), fantasy, and sex toys.
• They went out of their way to set a special mood, for instance, by lighting candles or playing music.
• They found ways to communicate that tightened their bond and created pleasant expectations, like saying “I love you” while lovemaking and by sending teasing texts ahead of when they would meet.
• Satisfied men and women gave and received more oral sex, orgasmed more frequently, and had sex more frequently.
If you are in an otherwise happy relationship, I hope you notice that at least the first four of those are things that anyone can do, as long as you prioritize them and make the time to do them.
According to David Frederick, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Chapman University in Orange County, California — the lead author of the study — about half of satisfied and dissatisfied couples read sexual self-help books and magazine article.
But what set sexually satisfied couples apart was that they actually tried some of the ideas.
Pay special attention to the part that says laughing during sex is related to satisfaction.
I would have loved to have had results from a cohort of gay and bisexual couples. Maybe the researchers can get a more diverse sample next time.
In case you want to look at the actual study, here is the reference:
David A. Frederick, Janet Lever, Brian Joseph Gillespie, Justin R. Garcia. “What Keeps Passion Alive? Sexual Satisfaction Is Associated With Sexual Communication, Mood Setting, Sexual Variety, Oral Sex, Orgasm, and Sex Frequency in a National U.S. Study.” The Journal of Sex Research.
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