In romantic relationships sex tends to be a source of pleasure and connection. But, even beyond the positive sensations and feelings associated with sex during the deed, research has shown that sexual activity also has numerous benefits not only for overall feelings of relationship satisfaction, but also for the personal well-being. People who have more frequent sex are generally happier in their lives, and this association is comparable in strength to the association observed between making more money and feeling happier.1
Why does sex have these benefits for people’s happiness? The media often depict the physical or technical aspects of sex,2 such as experiencing physical pleasure or a release during orgasm, as central. This means that many of the suggestions in the popular media for improving couples’ sex lives focuses on incorporating sex toys or lingerie to increase arousal and pleasure. However, as relationship researchers, my colleagues and I suspected that the relational aspects of sex, such as affection, might play an important role in understanding why sex matters so much for your overall happiness.