TIME | Sex has long been linked to a lengthened life and a lower risk of heart disease (CVD).
But new research suggests that it may have powerful emotional benefits, too: it seems to strengthen the bonds of relationships and adds happiness and meaning to life.
Headline Health “NSFW” Weekend Edition – While we don’t publish images that are “not safe for work,” some health content is most appropriate to be viewed in private, so we’re saving it for the weekend. Notice: some links to original sources many contain images meant for adults only; reader discretion is strongly advised.
A recent paper published in the journal Emotion by Todd Kashdan and his colleagues at George Mason University used daily diaries to examine the link between sexual behavior and wellbeing.
152 college students were asked to keep a record of their sexual behaviors, emotions, and feelings every day for three weeks.
People’s wellbeing was measured by their positive feelings, mood and how meaningful they felt that their life was each day.
People were happier and found more meaning in their lives the day after any kind of sexual activity, from deep kissing to sexual intercourse, the researchers found. This link did not depend on how satisfying or intimate the experience was, or whether they were in a relationship.
Any sort of sexual experience seems to improve well-being.
However, the opposite was not true; happiness did not predict more sexual behavior in their analysis, which bolsters their claim that the link between sex and wellbeing is due to the sex itself.
Humans’ fundamental need to belong is likely at the root of the effect, Kashdan says, and sexual contact is a communication of acceptance and social inclusion from those with whom we are intimate.
“There is something profound about someone else giving you access to their body and accepting access to yours,” Kashdan says.
This experience of vulnerability and acceptance can be a powerful signal of inclusion that improves emotional health … Read the full story at TIME.