There are numerous benefits to having a healthy and active sex life, and one in particular is that it promotes happiness. The mechanism behind why sex boosts happiness wasn’t really understood until now. Scientists found that affection is the link between sex and increased happiness.
Other findings of the study were similar to those found in previous studies. The study found that couples in committed relationships and engaged in more sex were happier and showed greater content with their lives.
Although the researchers uncovered a link between greater happiness and sex, the link wasn’t associated with sex itself. Happiness levels were found to improve among couples who showed greater affection towards each other. Acts of affection included cuddling and whispering sweet nothings to each other.
Lead researcher Anik Debrot explained that the findings suggest “relational aspects of sexuality—and more specifically, the sharing of affection—are central in understanding why sex does good.” The findings provide good news for those who may be worried about their sexual performance or body image. Debrot added these individuals could “remember that sex is a great way to share an intimate and affectionate moment with your partner.”
The study looked at the results of four other studies. Couples in the U.S. and Switzerland were questioned about the frequency of sex and how often they shared moments of affection. Two of the studies asked the participants about their typical habits and the other two studies tracked the couples over a specific time period.
Couples who reported a more active sex life also reported greater happiness and greater life satisfaction. These couples also reported greater “positive emotions” both generally and the morning after having sex.
In both studies, affection seemed to be the biggest link between happiness and sex. This poses the question of whether happiness promotes sex or does affection contribute to improved happiness?
One of the studies suggested that more sex leads to greater life satisfaction, but positive feelings did not increase the likelihood of sex.
Although the study found some positive findings it did have some limitations, including only looking at couples who volunteered for the study. These couples may not be a good representation of the general population. Furthermore, although the study uncovered that affection boosts happiness when it comes to couples and relationships, it can be difficult to give a “one-size-fits-all” approach to improving a relationship. Although it may be a good to try and boost affection in one’s relationship, it may not necessarily translate to improved happiness or greater sex.
The findings were published in an issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.