There is a reason why a lot of us are going to associate sexual intimacy with strong and happy relationships. Whenever you encounter a happy couple in public, it’s likely that you would think them to have much more active sex lives than couples who are clearly miserable with one another. But have you ever really given thought as to why that is? Why is sex so beneficial to a lot of contemporary relationships to begin with? What’s the deal? Well, senior researcher Anik Debrot and her team of experts decided to delve deeper into the matter. Debrot wanted to figure out what role sex plays in relationships and the level of affection that accompanies sexual intimacy between two people. Her research project was divided into a series of four different studies. She and her team of researchers were able to find out just how kissing, hugging, and touching between partners can contribute to the overall satisfaction in a relationship.
It might be important to really break down the whole correlation of sex and happiness in a relationship for a minute. Debrot and her team first started on the premise that individuals who had a more active and satisfying sex life tended to have a better sense of well-being as well. They also found out that “the size of the difference in well-being for people having sex once a week, compared with those having sex less than once a month, was greater than the size of the difference in well-being for those making US$75,000 compared with US$25,000 a year.”
But is it really the sex in itself or is it just something innate in the activity that triggers the happiness and comfort levels in a relationship? You might pose that people who are happier are going to have a lot more sex because they have healthy and satisfactory relationships. That would imply that great sex is a direct result of strong relationship chemistry and dynamics. But it’s also easy to assume that people who have positive dispositions in general are more likely to get closer to others in relationships and thus, generating a more active sex life. It’s almost a cyclical process wherein the happiest couples just get happier because of the great sex.
The authors also thought that one of the most positive impacts that having a strong sex-happiness dynamic in a relationship is the emotional high that is gained. However, researchers were limited with this aspect by the difficulty to accurately gauge this metric purely out of answers from a questionnaire. But ultimately, the studies that were conducted were enough to shed significant light on the matter at hand. As what the authors have found as a result of their academic research and hard work, “Hence, sex seems not only beneficial because of its physiological or hedonic effects … but because it promotes a stronger and more positive connection with the partner.” Over the course of an extended period of time, these kinds of experiences are going to build and strengthen the level of intimacy between two people in a relationship. That means that it makes it more likely that these couples are going to be able to sustain their long-term relationships. The leaders of the study were able to ascertain this because, “when one person draws emotional benefits from sex, their partner’s relationship satisfaction is also promoted over time.”
There is one very interesting implication of this study. And it’s that if affection happens to be a truly integral and important aspect of a relationship’s overall satisfaction, what various forms can it take in a relationship as a whole? Are couples going to have to have sex to express their affection for one another or is it possible to gain the same kinds of positive effects in other alternative methods? It’s no secret that sex isn’t always going to be a viable option for a lot of couples in various situations. Is there a way to induce the same kind of positive energy without having to get sexually intimate with one another? You have to remember that as a couple gets older, sexual activity might be lessened as a result of physical constraints. But does that mean that these people are going to experience significant dips in the overall happiness and satisfaction in their relationships?
Also, will sex be able to help couples who are drifting apart come back together? Yes, this study might have revealed so much about how beneficial sex can be for a relationship. But it also opens us up to a whole new world of questions that we can delve deeper into so that we can understand relationships better.