It’s no secret that people who have more sex are happier than those who rarely get lucky in the bedroom.
But, while you might think it’s obvious why, new research suggests another theory.
You’d be forgiven for thinking it was the joy of an orgasm that made those regularly getting laid happier — but scientists have discovered that’s not the whole answer.
While sex does make us happier, it is actually the post-coital cuddling that does the trick, rather than reaching climax itself.
A new study, published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, discovered that signs of affection and casual chatting were responsible for long-term happiness.
Psychologists in Canada and Switzerland looked beyond the bliss that orgasm brings to the expressions of affection both during and after sex.
They found that couples who have sex even just once a week were happier, reports the British Psychological Society.
They surveyed 335 people who were in a relationship and asked them how often they had sex.
They were also quizzed on how much affection, such as hugging and kissing, was shown in their relationship.
And researchers asked them to rate their life satisfaction and how often they experienced joy and happiness.
The results showed having more sex was linked with greater life satisfaction, with participants feeling happy more often.
But they found that when they factored in the amount of affection in the relationship, the sex link to happiness all but disappeared.
Married couples with kids were also quizzed about their sex lives.
More than 100 couples kept a diary for 10 days, detailing their sexual activity, affectionate experiences and moments of love from their partner.
The researchers found people who enjoyed lots of affection one day woke up happier the next.
And in many cases, that happiness was also linked to having had sex too.
The researchers said: “When engaging in sex, people not only seek an intimate connection, but indeed experience more affection, both when having sex and in the next several hours.”
“Hence sex seems not only beneficial because of its physiological or hedonic effects, but because it promotes a stronger and more positive connection with the partner.”
It may seem like sex is the key to happiness in a relationship, but it is not necessarily a case of more is better.
While one study has found that couples compared the happiness of having frequent sex to being on par with a significant salary increase, another 2015 study found couples who have sex once a week are happier than those who have sex more than once.
The study, published in Society for Personality and Social Psychology, found couples reported more satisfaction with their relationships if they had sex once a week, but that there were no noticeable benefits from engaging in sex more often.
It noted that couples should discuss whether their needs in between the sheets are being met to ensure their happiness in a relationship.
Lead researcher Amy Muise said: “Although more frequent sex is associated with greater happiness, this link was no longer significant at a frequency of more than once a week.”
“Our findings suggest that it’s important to maintain an intimate connection with your partner, but you don’t need to have sex every day as long as you’re maintaining that connection.”