Boston Sex Therapy: Touch is Really the Key to Good Sex in Long Term Relationships
Posted on January 8, 2015 by Aline Zoldbrod
Couples, do you want to have a happier, more fulfilling, sexier and more long lasting relationship? A wonderful research study has proved what I have been saying all along in my books, SexSmart (1998) and Sex Talk (2002). Touch really is the “Ground Zero of Sexuality.”
The Normal Bar by Northrup, Schwartz and Witte (Harmony, 2013), an international survey of marital and sexual satisfaction, points to touch as a significant factor in relationship satisfaction. Some “scientific” studies of sex have pretty flimsy research methods. This one is better. It’s based on a web based interactive survey that looked at the answers of 70,000 individuals worldwide. So while it is not truly a scientific study with a randomly collected sample, it is still based on a huge amount of data. To be specific: approximately 1.7 million answers to approximately 1,200 different questions.
Here are some interesting tidbits from the study:
- Among couples who give highest possible ratings to their relationships, 74% rub each other’s backs!
- Most extremely happy couples cuddle at least twice a week.
- Even among couples who have been together 25 years or more, more than half still kiss passionately.
- 58% of extremely happy couples spontaneously kiss at least twice a week.
- Happy couples almost always say “I love you” daily.
- More than three-quarters of happy couples have pet names for each other!
- For those of you who are baffled by requests to “be more romantic”, the study says that romance consists of true expression of your love, your deep emotional desire to connect and the element of mystery or surprise.
- In comparing the responses of happy and unhappy couples, happy couples are overwhelmingly likely to describe their sexual contact as “making love”– and it provides a deeper physical and emotional connection.
Here is an easy tip to implement: Go to bed nude. The study found some correlation between sleeping in the nude and sexual satisfaction. I have to tell you, here in Boston, this can be a challenge in the winter. I do encourage my couples to use a space heater to warm the room up before it’s time to doff those clothes. But there is nothing as comforting as the feeling of skin-on-skin, if you like the human being whose skin it is.
I know that a lot of you have not grown up in affectionate families. You’re likely to not love touch, if this is your family background. People who grow up in cold and unaffectionate families have to learn to like touch. It’s strange, but true. I often send my Boston sex therapy patients who feel touch is weird to see legitimate, licensed massage therapists. This can be the first step to learning that touch really does feel good. For those of you who feel that you could never let yourself be touched by a stranger, a very gentle beginning might be to sit opposite your partner or a friend and trade foot massages.
Another really interesting dynamic I have found in my years as a practicing Boston sex therapist is that people who are parents themselves intuitively know that their children need affectionate touch. So it’s possible that you grew up in an unaffectionate family and are not warm and cuddly with your partner, but you’re wonderfully warm and huggy with your kids. If so, I ask you to do some self-reflection. If you really do love your partner, how about stretching yourself to grow: learn to give your partner the loving touches that you KNOW are important.
Aline Zoldbrod Ph.D. is a Boston based sex therapist and psychologist and the author of the award winning book SexSmart: How Your Childhood Shaped Your Sexual Life and What to Do About It (1998). You can find out more at http://www.SexSmart.com.