Men need more cuddles and kisses than women, and if that weren’t surprising enough to researchers in an international study on long-term relationships, sexual satisfaction is more important to women in long-term relationships.
Researchers interviewed 1,009 heterosexual couples in the United States, Brazil, Germany, Japan and Spain. Participants, ages 25 to 76, lived together or were married at least one year, but an average of 25 years. The study, done by the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, is the among the first to examine sexual and relationship satisfaction in middle aged and older men and women in long-term, committed relationships.
“There are so many popular stereotypes, caricatures and jokes about women and sex, but this study is saying that, for the average couple, sex is important and maybe it’s even a tad more important for female partners,” says Raymond Rosen, study co-author and chief scientist at New England Research Institutes, a private research organization in Watertown, Mass.
The findings hold true in Contessa Myrick Rudolph’s decade-long marriage.
“When it comes to that special time, I’m not thinking about anyone else’s pleasure,” says the 40-year-old Detroit health educator. “It’s all about me. It’s only self-fulfilling.”
But her husband, David Rudolph, a public relations professional, says he desires deeper intimacy.
"I really appreciate it when she holds my hand or slides closer to me on the sofa,” says Rudolph, 44. “It’s more important for me to get hugged and touched; everything doesn’t have to be about having sex.”
Couples in the study that frequently hugged, kissed and caressed their partners and had sex more often reported being more sexually satisfied, researchers found. Both men and women noted being happier the longer they stayed together. For women, the sex got better the longer the couple was together. Those who'd been with their partner for 15 years or more reported an increase is sexual satisfaction.
In other findings, Japanese men reported significantly (2.61 times) more sexual satisfaction in their relationships than American men, and Japanese and Brazilian women were more likely to report sexual satisfaction than American women. Generally, men were more likely to be happy if they were healthy, and their partners had orgasms.
“This is an important study because it shows people can be in relationships for decades and still enjoy healthy, vibrant sexuality,” says Michael Sand, study co-author and clinical sexologist at Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in Richfield, Conn. “A lot of stuff we hear in the media is fueled by popular press, anecdotes and information people take as a given. It’s a stereotype; it’s not what we have as reality in research.”
Kimberly Hayes Taylor is an independent health writer based in Detroit. A former staff writer for newspapers including The Detroit News, Minneapolis Star Tribune and The Hartford Courant, she's also written for magazines such as Essence, Black Enterprise and Decisive. Her latest book is "Get It Up: The Ultimate Guide to Overcoming Erectile Dysfunction."