A healthy sex life is good for your relationship. There’s plenty of research out there to back that up. But what about cuddling? According to science, that’s any kind of affectionate or loving touch with your partner that involves most of your bodies (we’re not talking holding hands or kissing here) and is not all about sex.
Cuddling is a pretty common way of giving and receiving affection in a romantic relationship. And yes, it’s good for you! Studies have shown cuddling has both physical and psychological benefits. But what about its role in romance? Up to now, few studies have looked at the effects of cuddling on couples.
That’s why researcher Lisa van Raalte rounded up just over 750 men and women in relationships. The participants filled in online surveys that included questions on how, where, and why they cuddled with their partners. Van Raalte also asked them how satisfied they were both with cuddling and their relationship in general.
Hugging, spooning, kissing
An average cuddle session lasted 45 minutes for the study’s participants. But that varied a lot: ten minutes was all some people could fit in, while others had cuddle marathons lasting up to five hours! Most were physically intimate with their partners in this way about four times a week, the study also found.
Whether they were on the couch watching TV, or in bed after a long day, cuddling meant hugging, holding their partner, spooning, and kissing for the participants.
Relaxed, loved, happy
Cuddling was a way for them to show affection, feel close to their sweetheart, and to comfort – or be comforted by him or her. It was not usually sexual, the research also confirmed. Not surprisingly, the study found that a good round of cuddles can leave you feeling relaxed, loved, and happy.
What’s more, there was a strong link between affectionate, loving touch and feeling close to a partner and being satisfied in a relationship.
Rules of cuddling
By now, you’re probably convinced that cuddling is good for you and your partner. When it comes to its benefits, you should keep two things in mind.
First, it’s important for both you and your partner to do the initiating. When things are equal in terms of who makes a move to cuddle, partners are happier together and feel closer to each other, the study showed. When it’s always one partner who wants to cuddle, people tend to be less satisfied in their relationship.
As for how much cuddling is enough, it’s not actually the amount that matters, the study seems to show. Instead, it’s feeling that you’re getting enough (or more than enough) cuddles that’s most important.
“Honey, Come Back to Bed”: A Descriptive Study of Cuddling in Romantic Relationships, Lisa van Raalte, Kory Floyd; presented at the 2016 International Association for Relationship Research (IARR) conference.
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