Love and S***x
S**xual connection is a vital aspect of most romantic relationships, but it is not always as central as people may think. Partners have s**x for self-interested reasons—it feels good and can boost self-esteem; and for relationship-focused reasons—it enhances closeness and pleases someone they love. Over the long term, most couples will face s**xual challenges, as bodies change with age and individuals’ desire for s**x waxes and wanes (and generally declines). Research consistently shows that most couples struggle to talk about s**x honestly, but that when they do, it brings them closer together.
Love also brings people together, but it takes more than love to stay together. Many of us know couples that broke up despite believing that they were in love with each other, because of one partner’s infidelity or because of distance or circumstance. But even in long-term stable relationships, partners who feel that they are in love may grow apart, if one believes that they are not emotionally safe in the relationship, or that it lacks passion or intimacy.
The Power of S***x
S**x is an important aspect of many relationships and while research finds that while regular s**x does help to cement a couple’s emotional bond, that boost doesn’t derive from the physical act as much as from what it expresses—openness, transparency, positive communication, and a commitment to foster and maintain erotic energy. What happens after s***x is also vital: Research on s**xual “afterglow,” including cuddling and pillow talk, finds that the feeling of enhanced s**xual satisfaction following a s**xual encounter can leave partners feeling better about each other for weeks or even months. While many partners worry about why they may not have s**x as often as they once did, or whether they need to learn new techniques, a decline in a couple’s s**x life is more commonly a reflection of other problems in the relationship, rather than the cause.
What are the keys to great s**x?
Experts who research s**x in relationships report that those partners who find their s**x lives most fulfilling say that the keys to a great s**x life are being able to stay in the moment, communicate with each other honestly about their sexual wants—and have empathy for their partner’s, be vulnerable, and remain open to trying new things together.
Are we having enough s**x?
Married couples report having s**x an average of 58 times per year, although couples in their 20s report much more frequent encounters—about 111 per year, with that number dropping about 20 percent per decade as couples age. (Researchers tend to be suspicious of such results, since they are based on self-reports.) Many experts suggest that neither very frequent nor very rare s**x is necessarily a problem for couples if they find their relationships satisfying and believe they are having enough s**x.
Does having more s**x make couples happier?
Would more s**x make you happier? Probably not. In experiments, when couples were asked to double their normal frequency of s**x, most did not follow through, and those who were able to did not report greater sexual satisfaction. In other words, for most couples, when it comes to sex, quality is more important that quantity.
How important is what couples do after s**x?
The warm, fuzzy feeling many couples experience after s**x is known as “sexual afterglow,” and research suggests that it may be vital to a relationship: Partners who experienced a feeling of sexual satisfaction longer—as long as 48 hours after s**x—reported greater relationship satisfaction overall. (Research also finds it to be a myth that men tend to fall asleep quickly after sex.)
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