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6 July 2011
Shock finding: cuddling more important to men than women
by George Atkinson

A survey of relationships and sexual satisfaction by researchers at the Kinsey Institute found that tenderness was more important to men than to women. Also contrary to the expectations of the researchers; men were more likely to report being happy in their relationship, while women were more likely to report being satisfied with their sexual relationship.

The couples recruited for the survey - more than 1,000 from the United States, Brazil, Germany, Japan and Spain - were together an average of 25 years. The findings, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, are the first to detail sexual and relationship parameters of middle-aged or older couples in committed, long-term relationships.

"You hear repeated research and commentary about divorce; but it's important to note that though divorce rates are high in the U.S., couples tend to stay married - more than 50 percent of U.S. couples remain in their first marriage, and that number goes up to 90 percent in Spain," said Julia Heiman, director of The Kinsey Institute. "We know from other research that being in a long-term relationship has some value to health. Perhaps we can learn more about what makes relationships both sustainable and happy."

Some of the findings include:

  • For men, relationship happiness was more likely if it was important to him that his partner experienced orgasm.
  • Frequent kissing or cuddling predicted happiness in the relationship for men, but not for women.
  • Across all five nationalities, for both men and women, the Japanese were significantly happier in their relationships than Americans, and Brazilians and Spanish reported less relationship happiness than Americans.
  • For men, having had more sex partners in their lifetime was a predictor of less sexual satisfaction.
  • Women who had been with their partner for less than 15 years were less likely to report sexual satisfaction, but after 15 years, the percentage went up significantly.

"Possibly, women become more satisfied over time because their expectations change, or life changes with the children grown," Heiman speculates. "On the other hand, those who weren't so happy sexually might not be married so long. Our next step is to understand how one person's health, physical affection and sexual experiences relate to the relationship happiness or sexual satisfaction of his or her partner."

Can't We Just Cuddle?
Strongest relationships come through equal commitment
Two-thirds of women report sex problems

Source: Indiana University

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