Study: It’s the Cuddling, Not the Sex, That Makes You Happier

Although scientists have known for years that more sex is associated with more happiness, a new study suggests sex itself isn’t what makes us happier, it’s the snuggles we share before, during, and after the act that lead to greater bliss, according to a report published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

“We demonstrated that an important reason why sex is associated with well-being is that it promotes the experience of affection with the partner,” says University of Toronto postdoctoral fellow Anik Debrot, the study’s co-author. “Thus, the quality of the bond with the partner is essential to understand the benefits of sex.”

“People feel more positive emotions after having sex, and this is the case because they feel more affection from and for their partner when they have sex,” Debrot told TODAY.

“I enjoyed that high-quality bonding.”

The positive relationship buzz lasted a while, Debrot said. “People that felt more positive emotions, like joy and optimism, after having sex with their partner showed more relationship satisfaction after a six-month period. This shows that what is good for you is good for your relationship.”

In short: Sex encourages affection, and affection makes us feel good in the immediate, short, and long-term. And, apparently, doing it once a week is enough.

“A previous study, showed that people report more well-being the more they have sex, up to once a week,” Debrot said. “If they have sex more often, they do not report less well-being, but neither does it increase their well-being compared to once a week.”

So any time you just feel like cuddling, tell your partner: “It’s for our happiness!”

Candy Kirby

Candy is the founder of The Mom Beat and a humor columnist whose work as appeared in Redbook, Nickelodeon's NickMom, Disney's BabyZone, HelloGiggles and eHow. She also used to be a staff writer for the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful, where she penned many scripts featuring prolonged heated stares and countless “Who’s the Daddy?” story lines. Candy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young kids and three rescue Persian cats, the latter of whom are the real brains behind this operation.