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Why the Afterglow Matters So Much

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When you think of a great sexual encounter with your partner, what comes to mind? You may imagine lots of fireworks, a long, romantic lead-up, or something emotionally intimate and soulful. Maybe all three!

Of course, all of these things sound great. But you might be forgetting about another component of sex that turns out to be really important: post-sex cuddling.

More Cuddling = More Satisfied

In two studies of over 400 people in relationships, researchers looked at whether the amount of time people spent cuddling and talking intimately after sex affected their feelings about the relationship. In the first part of the study, they found that generally speaking, the more time people spent being close in the post-sex glow, the more sexually satisfied they were. This then led to greater overall relationship satisfaction. These results held for men and women both, though the connection seemed to be a bit stronger for women.

In a second part of the study, researchers looked at how “longer than average” or “better than average” cuddle sessions made people feel on a day to day basis, using relationship diaries where people took notes on their behavior.

Sure enough, on days when couples had longer or “better” cuddling time after sex, they felt more satisfied with their relationships. These sessions even seemed to have long term effects.

Were these findings simply because couples with a long “afterglow” also had better or longer sex? Nope. In fact, the post-sex activity seemed to be more important!

Parents Especially Need This Time

In another finding that should interest many of us, the researchers also found that longer cuddle times were especially effective for one group: parents. 

Though the researchers aren’t sure why this is, if you’re a parent, you probably have some ideas! Once kids enter the picture it can be hard to find the time for a quality bonding like this. When it does happen, it’s likely to feel extra special.

So if you’re looking for a way to help your relationship along and feel more satisfied, remember: slow down and take that time to cuddle. These intimate times with your partner are special and valuable to you both.

By Carol Church, lead writer, SMART Couples, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida


Muise, A., Giang, E., & Impett, E. A. (2014). Post sex affectionate exchanges promote sexual and relationship satisfaction. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43, 1391-1402.

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