Relationships

Sex Provides Afterglow That Bonds Partners

Sex is a key part of reproduction—not to mention fun!—and now findings suggest it may have an additional purpose: helping couples bond.
A recent study of newlywed couples found partners experience a sexual afterglow that can last for up to two days after sex, and this afterglow helps strengthen relationship quality over the long haul.
Of course, researchers knew sex plays a crucial role in pair bonding, but they hypothesized it might provide a short-term boost to sexual satisfaction, sustaining pair bond between sexual experiences and boosting relationship satisfaction over a longer term.
To test the theory, researchers looked at data from two independent studies of newlyweds—one with 96 couples and another with 118 couples.
Each night before bed, the newlyweds recorded whether or not they got busy that day. They were also asked to rate how satisfied they were with their sex life, their partner, their relationship and their marriage.
Couples also noted marriage quality at the beginning of the study and again at a follow-up session four to six months later.
Researchers found sex on a given day was linked with sexual satisfaction that same day, which was linked with sexual satisfaction the next day and lasted for two days post romantic interlude. Or, in short, participants reported elevated sexual satisfaction 48 hours after a single act of sex. Even when participants’ gender, age, sexual frequency, personality traits, length of relationship and other factors were taken into account, the afterglow effect remained.
Though overall, participants’ marital satisfaction declined during the period between the beginning of the study and the follow-up session, those who had high levels of sexual afterglow fared better than their peers, reporting higher marital satisfaction across the first four to six months of marriage. The pattern was the same in both independent studies, providing strong evidence for sexual afterglow.

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