Women Want Sex, Men Want Cuddling

105464-103886What makes happy long-term relationships?

Everyone’s happier when touching, kissing, hugging, and sex fill our lives. Surprisingly, hugging and kissing are more important to men’s happiness. Men who snuggled were three times happier than non-snuggling husbands. So much for the stereotype that men don’t cuddle.

Psychologist, Aline Zoldbrod, talks of the importance of touch.

Touch from a person you love and trust is a major emotional resource and a way that people can regulate their emotions when they are upset. Couples who use touch to comfort, to compliment, and yes, to seduce and arouse, are bound to be happier.

Surprisingly, cuddling has less impact on women’s contentment, perhaps because culturally, women have a greater range of emotional outlets than men.

Instead, sexual satisfaction had a bigger impact on women’s happiness, and typically, the sex got better the longer a couple stayed together. Yet, as TIME put it, “a man’s happiness rose 17% with each additional point he rated the importance of his partner’s orgasm.” Caring husband, happy wife? Happy wife, happy husband?

Why would sex so often get better for women over time? Women often talk of the importance of love and connection to sexual enjoyment. With time, the couple can become deeply bonded. But they can also become more skilled. Safety and relaxation are important to a woman’s orgasm and long-term relationships can enhance both. Finally, over time the messages of a sex-negative culture for women can slip away in the security of marriage, where all agree that sex is virtuous.

Co-author and clinical sexologist, Michael Sand, said the study is important in showing that long-term relationships can be filled with “healthy, vibrant sexuality.”

In another reversal of stereotype, men were happier, overall, in their relationships
than women. Maybe it’s not so surprising. In modern marriages, men still have more
power and more say. Women are more likely to nurture and care for their spouses.

But both men and women felt greater relationship satisfaction the longer they stayed together. Are happier couples simply more likely to stay together? Or do the deep bonds that form over long-term relationships create the contentment? Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

Interesting, all. And hopeful.

These findings are based on a survey from the Kinsey Institute of 1,009 heterosexual couples from five countries who were middle-aged or older, and in long-term relationships.

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“Cock” vs “Down There”

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 27, 2013, in men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. Jenna Francisco

    That’s way different than I expected since guys stereotypically always have sex on the mind. Women are probably more into sex because they mostly have emotionally relationship with people and less of a range of having physical comradery. Whereas men can have more of a mental state during cuddling and focus on the warmth and vulnerable presence of their partners and also a sense of nurture from their partners that they don’t get with their other friends. All in all, I think it’s a sweet thing that guys would rather much snuggle.

    • Well it’s more about how satisfied men and women are in long-term relationships, though. Good cuddling seems to be more predictive of men being happier; good sex for women being happier/more satisfied. Not necessarily that men would rather cuddle than have sex.

  2. As a man, I agree with this article. It’s funny how the society tends to think that men are the ones with excessive sex desire and women are the passive side in terms of sex. In a relationship, men are stereotyped as the sex demanding side while the women are all about love. In fact, I believe that women enjoy the pleasure of sex as much as, if not more than men. I do not really agree about how this article stated that men are usually the happier ones than women. I believe in modern marriage especially in the U.S.A, men and women as married couples have almost the same power and say. Although it is true that women have a nature of nurturing and caring, but most men are raised believing that they should protect their woman. But the longer a relationship is, the happier the couple will surely get because they know each other better and tend to fit into each other better.

  3. I agree with many of the people that have commented on this post as well. I thought that it was the other way around. That women were the ones that liked cuddling and not men. I thought men were just happy by having sex. I thought this because of how women have a more emotion drive rather than men. I felt like men dont have that much emotion or care as much as women do. Many articles on here contain concepts that i never thought of. I ve beeen thinking as the society thinks. Reading these articles, i found myself thinking in everyway for women and men and also vice versa as what men would think and what women would think. And it is really interesting because men do not seem to show emotions or that they care that much. But reading these i know think different.

  4. Chimaechi Ahanotu

    This is a very interesting post because of how it contains so much truth that people do not realize. Men I believe enjoy cuddling just as much as women, but women’s and men’s expressions of emotion are just biologically different. Men I feel gain satisfaction of cuddling as it boosts their self-esteem and makes them feel more desirable. As relationships grow I do think that the sex gets better because each person feels a sense of comfort, security and bondage. In my current relationship, as time goes on I feel that our bondage grows. Men I think find great satisfaction in satisfying their partner first, with that extra adrenaline of knowing that they fulfilled their partner, their orgasm can reach maximum pleasure. Although this article is true for many men, I believe that men enjoy keeping their emotions at more of a minimum than having them in blast in the open.

  5. This article was definitely an interesting read, because I thought it was the reverse where women were more into cuddling, opposed to men. In this Westernized society, it’s all about the macho man and (to be quite blunt) how to be more attractive in order to copulate with more women. I think this is the very reason why I thought the opposite. Men are taught (or at least advertised) to appear manly and strong. To want to cuddle more than have sex?? That just strikes that exact notion down!

    Essentially, the articles makes sense though when the author makes points of how women over time enjoy sex –in the long run of a relationship. The embarrassing, awkward moments before sex is no longer there. You’re in a place of being comfortable and confident—eventually leading more doors for exploration and curiosity. Leading to the very end of it all, women enjoying sex more.

    Great read overall.

  6. Like many others who have read this article, I too did not think that snuggling and cuddling would have a greater impact on men than women in a relationship. After reading this article I can see how this sort of touch would affect men more in a committed relationship. Women generally use touch as a way of communicating much more often than men do. It is more common to go out in public and see a woman hug someone or kiss a good friend, or even cuddle with close friends. Rarely do you see men show affection through touch in public other than maybe a really quick hug or a handshake in our culture. In fact it is not really seen as “manly” to show this sort of touch. It makes sense that men would then get more out of cuddling with their significant other than women do because of this.

  7. THis is really interesting article. I had always thought because of how music and the media portrays all of men, no emotion having womenizers, they didnt require the same emotional connection as women to be in a long happy relationship. Most men try to act like ¨PIMPS¨and pretend they dont feel anything with a woman, but those are the most emotional men. They are the most jealous, always making sure this female doesnt play them. I feel personally that of course to be in a happy realtionship you need the emotionall connection with your soulmate and be able to have fun. People in the long lasting relationships are able to switch and spice things up in order to keep that flame going and not get bored with the same sexual experience. Yes you get used to your partner after a while but you also know what he-she likes and makes it easier to bring them to ecstacy. Both male and females like sex just as much as one an other. Just be happy, if you feel trapped just move on youll find some one out in this world of almost 7 billion people.

  8. Finally, I read an article that rings truth about men and the need for affection and how love making gets better with time for marriages. I have always believed that women associate sex with love and men associate sex with sex. Well, men need to feel appreciated, validated, needed, wanted and desired. In several conversations with my husband, he would tell me that a touch on the arm or a rub on the head to let him know that I am there gives a like silent reassurance that he is still on my mind. These simple forms of affection add to the best love making.

  9. Jolene Gomez

    I guess because of the way we our society runs, we are taught and assume that women are all about cuddling and men are all aout sex. However, when i examine my own relationship after reading this article, I realize that it is the opposite to what I originally thought. My boyfriend and I have been together for seven years, going on eight now and I notice that he is happiest when we are hugging, kissing, and cuddling whenever possible. As for me, I feel the most satisfied when we are having intercourse more frequenlty. Now is it all that cut and dry? No. But I do believe that it plays a major role in the success of our relationship and I must admit that over time our we grow closer and the relationship gets better.

  10. Gilbert Nguyen

    I found this blog post very informing. I’ve always thought that women wanted cuddling more than men. The quote from Aline Zoldbrod is definitely true because people are definitely happier when they are around the person they love. Touch is definitely an emotional experience that not a lot of people experience every day. This post should definitely be read by every couple out there especially the unhappy ones so they can somehow salvage their relationship. Though I think women have more power over the relationship then men do. It really seems that women can morph the relationship to what they would find more pleasing to.

  11. This is an interesting fact to know. keeping a long relationship and making increased satisfaction for both men and women, I believed it should be the opposite way. But actually knowing that men need more cuddling makes me endear them. I agree that women can feel love and happiness through sex with their partner. it can create a big relaxation effect and it directly connects to long lasting relationships. I believe that women feel more happiness when they are loved, rather than love someone. One thing that is obvious and makes sense to me is good sex is necessary and essential for long-term relationships.

  12. Hi,

    I really liked this post a lot and I feel that I can relate a lot to it even though, it is stated that the survery is based on middle-aged couples with a long-term relationships. Even though, I am not middle-aged and my realtionships are never really long-term, I still agree that cuddling is a very important factor. I believe that when I am in a relationship with more cuddling, there tends to be better sex with my partner. And usually it results in a happier and more romantic realtionships. Before I had a relationship, I have always thought that it was the opposite, women wants cuddling and men wants sex, but I am wrong and I completely agree with this post. Thank you for posting such a great point.

  13. I wonder of any of it has to do with how *inappropriate* it is for guys to offer non-sexual intimate physical contact, thus making it something more special for men than for women. If a woman is comforting a woman, you might see hugs and other supportive (both physically and emotionally) behavior. For men, it’s less appropriate. Given that sexual arousal has fairly little to do with actual biology (the Chinese famously fetishized the foot, for example) and most of the experience men would have with that kind of contact would be sexual in nature, making it more valuable for them?

    The “increasing pleasure from both people with time” just strikes me as, well, obvious.

    • Makes sense to me.
      Not so obvious to most.

    • My shrink said that a LOT of men are touch-starved and that women often have friends they can hug n be touched by but men largely only touch n cuddle their partner, their kids, their pets. I can say that as a single male for a long time I ADORE being hugged because it’s a feeling I rarely ever get. Most cuddles n hugs I’ve seen were females hugging each other or parents with their kids.

  14. Rohan 7 Things

    Very interesting, There’s no doubt that sex between loving partners tends to improve over time, that’s why I’ve never been big into one night stands. I guess, whether men or women, those who enjoy the most successful relationships are those who care about the other to a great degree and enjoy showing affection and sharing touch.

    All the best!


  15. Peter Pagrefor

    It maybe a little off topic but it’s about the differences between the two sexes.

    When it comes to equal rights, which of goes with out questioning that we all must have equal rights regardless nationality, ethnicity, gender etc., people often misunderstands it with diversity.

    We women and men are equal but they are different, there is nothing wrong with that, they are still equal.

    If someone fails to realize that, should read this, it will give a new perspective


    Equality is the best thing and so is diversity.

    Wouldn’t it be boring if ALL the people in the world were thinking and acting exactly the same way?

    • Feminists believe that women and men are of equal worth and dignity and should be given equal opportunities. They don’t believe that men and women are exactly the same.

      (Or that all men are exactly the same or that all women are exactly the same.)

  16. Thanks for this one. It’s right on.

  17. Great article, Georgia. I agree, with personal experience to support my agreement, with all the points. I’m wondering if the sex/cuddling dynamic can be attributed to different sexual peaks of men and women. Like Archy, I’ve heard that women peak sexually much later than men. Men also suffer from equipment problems later in life as the popularity of Viagra will attest. These are some hard hitting facts that need to be taken to account regardless of whose ego is bruised.

  18. Hi,

    I understand this survey was focused on heterosexual couples. I found this article interesting and thought to make a comment on it from a gay male couple’ view point.

    My boyfriend and I have been together for 3 years and for us kissing and cuddling has always been a major part of our sexual relationship. We are both glad that is the case and can testify that sex has become better and our bond more enriching beacuse of it. It makes sense when you think about it; sex through lust hightened by the physical sex leaving mind and the emotion to a less extend. Less kissing and cuddling. IE One night stands. But when the mind and emotions are primary through the reassuring bond of love between to human beings. Kissing and cuddling is increased and acts like fuel to the physical sex which takes us into a new territory of better sex.

    How amazing to think of the intimate bliss that can be achieved through the connection of mind, soul and body between lovers 🙂

    Jay xo

  19. “In another reversal of stereotype, men were happier, overall, in their relationships
    than women. Maybe it’s not so surprising. In modern marriages, men still have more
    power and more say. Women are more likely to nurture and care for their spouses.”
    Got proof? http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070705120756.htm Here’s one study that disagrees, small sample however and limited area.

    We have a culture that largely stereotypes women as worrying more over marriages, and relationships. Could it be that we’re simply making women TOO worried, could they be on more alert for minor stuff that adds up over time to bother them whilst men are more carefree or even just happy to get ANY relationship? The majority of divorces are initiated by women, are women more pickier? Are men not paying enough attention to the relationship till all hell breaks loose? There is a stereotype that women remember past events and throw them back at the guy months/years later whilst he’s more forgetful so if there’s any truth to it then it could simply be men have the benefit of forgetting more of the bad and hold less resentment?

    “men who reported frequent kissing or cuddling with their partners were on average three times as happy with their relationships as men who reported limited snuggling. For women, such shows of tenderness didn’t have much impact on relationship satisfaction.”
    Correlation does not imply causation though so is the kissing making them happier, or are they kissing, cuddling etc because they are already happier about their relationship? As a man the only person I really wanna be kissing n cuddling is a partner I am happy with, if she has annoyed me then I won’t have much affection for her. How does the research determine that the cuddling makes them happier? I bet a study will find happy couples fight less too….

    “Why would sex so often get better for women over time? ”
    Possibly stability, possibly “cluckyness” (I am late 20’s and noticing this amongst female friends bigtime, I swear the stalk just handed out kids to a huge portion of my friends in the last 2 years alone), and of course women do get more orgasms during their 30’s (often referred to as the sexual peak) which probably means women are more comfortable with their bodies, themselves, etc. A long term partnership also helps as the man can probably understand how to please her better and she’s more likely to know what she wants after experience.

    “But both men and women felt greater relationship satisfaction the longer they stayed together. Are happier couples simply more likely to stay together? Or do the deep bonds that form over long-term relationships create the contentment? Perhaps it’s a bit of both.”
    This is a no brainer, why would you stay with someone you don’t get along with? Divorce allows people to leave for “no fault” so people often can choose happiness over staying with the same person and they use that option a lot…up to 50% of the time I hear. I’d say happy couples are what keeps the relationship going, the ones that fight n fight n fight or don’t have much in common will probably quickly fall apart and break up. There’s no way in hell I’d stay with someone I don’t get along great with.

    • Well, the study that you cite doesn’t disagree with this research at all. Many of the relationships from the study I cite are beyond 7 years. Your sample is narrower and smaller, as you say. More importantly, it’s looking at a completely different question.

      The line from my post below is supposed to communicate your points above. But no problem spelling them, each time individually, out and providing a link for another interesting study.

      “Are happier couples simply more likely to stay together? Or do the deep bonds that form over long-term relationships create the contentment? Perhaps it’s a bit of both.”

      Here are a couple posts you might be interested in:

      Why Are Men Surprised by Breakups?
      Sources of Power in Relationships

    • Hey Archy,
      Thanks for the link to the other study. I would argue that since the study only solicited couples that had been married for seven years who “were relatively happy in their marriages, with none in counseling” that the study is a bit limited. John Gottman claims that one of seven principles for making marriage work is for men to let their partner influence them. Thus, the sciencedaily.com article states, “a marker of a healthy marriage–that men accept influence from their wives.” This article needs to be re-titled to “Wives Have Greater Power In Healthy Marriage Problem-Solving Behavior.”
      Combining this perspective with your statements that women can and do leave marriages with no fault divorce, I would argue that men still have more power in marriages, which could be why so many women leave the marriages.

      • @Kozo, what would indicate the men having power? As far as I can tell the most common reason for leaving is him not paying enough attention or the feelings have changed. I think in previous times men had more power but in the last decade or 2 I am going to say women probably hold as much if not more power in the marriage, at least for influencing behaviour and at least that’s what I’ve seen with my many friends.

      • btw, have you read this, Archy? What do you think in terms of the balance of power, gender-wise?

        Sources of Power in Relationships

        And the study you link to talks about women having power “in problem solving situations” and in relationship maintenance, which could come across as domineering, the researcher said.

        There remain a lot of areas in which men can have more power.

  20. I thought it was women who liked cuddling and vise versa, I must have been very wrong.

    • Well, women and men definitely both like it. But when you look at how it affects increased satisfaction in relationships it’s interesting that it does go the other way.

  1. Pingback: Cuddling Is Good For Your Health! | I Am An After School Special

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