How does that happen?
A large study on long-term relationships and sexual satisfaction will be published soon in the Journal of Sex Research. Researchers spoke with the Wall Street Journal about the the upcoming article, and here are some highlights. You can go to WSJ.com for a more in-depth discussion. Read the rest of this entry →
What 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.
When a relationship is killed by whatever had sparked it, that’s a fatal attraction.
Living in a culture that sexualizes male dominance, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a friend of mine was once drawn to the “take charge,” male dominant qualities of one of her lovers. So attracted that she married him. A few years later she left him for the same reason. Many women romanticize male dominance only to find that it’s not so much fun to be bossed around and never get your way in real life.
Or, we might look for someone to balance us out. Another friend was attracted to the free-spirited artistic quality of his ex-wife. She seemed a nice counterweight to his ordered, mathematical mind. But after a few years her carefree ways morphed into chaos. Complimentary souls won’t necessarily complete us.
Some women are attracted to men who show a deep interest in them. A boyfriend’s obsession and jealousy makes her feel really loved. But after he starts beating her because other men looked her way, she eventually sees he has a possessive, abusive personality.
The most common fatal attraction involves friendliness. One 20-year-old found her boyfriend’s humor and sociability appealing when they first met. Now, asked about his least attractive quality, she points to his friendliness, saying “He often flirts with others.”
Physical attractiveness can also become an unexpected turn off. A forty-one year old man had initially been drawn to his girlfriend’s sexy, exotic Asian looks. He had also liked her outgoing, flirty personality. But over time that all became a problem as he came to see her as “disloyal and mercurial.”
The list goes on. A woman is attracted to a man’s sense of humor but later complains that he’s never serious. A man is drawn to his partner’s nurturing nature, but comes to see her as smothering. A woman admires her husband’s ambition, but then sees him as a workaholic.
There is a real tendency to become disillusioned with qualities that initially attract us. I guess there can be too much of a good thing.
Be careful what you wish for.
Tags: dating, dating psychology, factors in searching for a mate, fatal attraction, feminism, gender, long-term relationships, marriage, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism, social psychology, what attracts people, women