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What Do Men Want? Turns Out It's Cuddling

Study Suggests Men Value Cuddling as an Important Ingredient in Relationship Happiness

Relationship Happiness and Sexual Satisfaction continued...

When it came to sexual satisfaction, the other focus of the study, physical intimacy and sexual functioning were important for both men and women. For men, more frequent recent activity and fewer lifetime sexual partners was linked with more sexual satisfaction.

Heiman cannot explain the link between fewer partners and greater sexual satisfaction. She speculated it could be those who have had many partners are not typically sexually satisfied and are constantly searching for new partners.

For men, the longer they were in a relationship, the greater their relationship happiness and sexual satisfaction.

However, women in relationships of 20 to 40 years were less likely than men to report relationship happiness. Women tended to show lower sexual satisfaction early in the relationship and greater levels later.

"Women start out less sexually satisfied between years zero and 15, and are significantly more sexually satisfied at duration years 35 and above," Heiman says. That may have to do with the responsibilities of child-rearing earlier, she says.

"How long you have been with a partner may impact how happy and how sexually satisfied you are," she says of the findings.

The study was funded by Bayer-Schering.

Happiness in Relationships

The new research sheds some overdue light on a segment of people overlooked, says Janet Shibley Hyde, PhD, Helen Thompson Woolley Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  She reviewed the study findings for WebMD.

"Sexuality is a crucial aspect of quality of life," she tells WebMD, "but sex researchers have neglected midlife individuals, who are the focus of this study."

In her own research, Hyde says she has found that men and women are more alike psychologically than different, despite other research finding gender differences.

The take-home message for long-term couples? Even though Heiman found gender differences in such behaviors as cuddling, Hyde says she still believes it is the ''little things" in relationships that can help with happiness.

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