Who isn’t tired of the relationship cliché that women love spooning after sex while men prefer passing the eff out? But research out of the University of Toronto Mississauga shows that a little post-nooky snuggle sesh can help improve your relationship.
The study, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, shows that “kissing, caressing, and loving talk” after intercourse are all associated with greater sexual and relationship satisfaction.
Kat Van Kirk, Ph.D., a licensed marriage and sex therapist, says that oxytocin is likely the main driver behind this phenomenon. In fact, many people refer to oxytocin as the “love hormone”; it’s released as a result of pleasurable physical contact and has been shown to increase bonding.
Staying physically close after sex can also act as a form of nonverbal communication. “It can help you relax, inhibit any sensations of pain—emotional or physical—and help reinforce to your partner that you are invested and committed to them,” says Van Kirk.
Other benefits include the simple fact that closeness can lead to more sex. “Cuddling can help keep you aroused for another roll in the hay,” says Van Kirk.
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Interestingly, parents in the study gained the most from post-romp closeness, and women also seem to have benefited to a greater extent (although men reported improved relationships and sex lives, too). So how much time exactly should you devote to post-coital cuddling? Aim for more than 15 minutes—that’s what the people in the study who said they were happiest with their relationships did.