Active sex life is an essential component of a healthy, long-term relationship. But while sex is important, cuddling before or after sex can be just as or even more important. Cuddling is a low-effort means of displaying intimacy, connecting with your partner, showing compassion, and keeping your sex and love life alive and well. Cuddling doesn’t just improve your sex life; it also improves your overall health, mental wellness, and relationship.
There are biological, psychological, and physiological reasons you respond so well to having your arms wrapped around your loved ones. From the moment you’re born, you rely on the sense of touch to feel connected to other individuals, whether it’s your mother when you’re young or your friends, partners, and lovers when you’re older. Infants can’t survive without touch, and adults need touch for emotional/ sexual fulfillment.
This article describes the sexual, emotional, and mental benefits of cuddling.
Cuddling releases oxytocin and dopamine
Let’s start with the biological and physiological reasons for why cuddling feels so good. When you cuddle with your partner, your body releases oxytocin, also known as the “bonding hormone.” This hormone instantly strengthens your emotional connection to your partner, making you and your partner feel closer, more intimate, and more sexual. When your emotional bond is strengthened, you are also more likely to engage in (and enjoy) sex.
Cuddling also releases dopamine, your body’s primary feel-good hormone. When your body releases dopamine, you instantly feel happier and calmer. And since the release of dopamine occurs because of your physical intimacy with your partner, you develop a stronger sexual desire. The release of oxytocin and dopamine also regulates stress, making you feel calmer and more relaxed after a stressful day, which can also stimulate sexual desires.
Cuddling strengthens your feeling of closeness
When your oxytocin and dopamine levels rise, you instantly feel closer to your partner. You may feel close to your partner even during sex, but cuddling and the release of oxytocin make the feelings of closeness last longer. It also makes you trust each other better, which fosters better connections. Cuddling also increases your sense of safety, making both you and your partner trust and rely on each other for comfort, which can enhance your emotional vulnerability and sexual desire.
Cuddling paves the way for emotional vulnerability
Emotional vulnerability is an essential component of healthy relationships and long-term sexual desires. You need to be able to communicate all of your thoughts, desires, and feelings with your partners in a safe and loving manner. Talking, in general, is good for your sex life. And cuddling is a facilitator for conversations. When you’re wrapped in each other’s arms, you can whisper secrets and desires that you may not have felt comfortable sharing earlier.
Cuddling allows you to open up with your partners, share deeper thoughts, feelings, and desires, and feel safe in their arms. And when that happens, you can also describe sexual desires and fantasies, such as wanting to experiment with sex toys or exploring your sexual fetishes. When you’re emotionally vulnerable and honest, your partner may respond in kind. And that can pave the way for improved sex life.
Cuddling allows you to let down your guard
Cuddling is a form of non-sexual intimacy, just like caressing, an innocent peck on the cheeks, or other forms of non-sexual contact. One of the biggest reasons cuddling can boost your mental health, emotional connection, and sex life is that it doesn’t come with the expectation of sex. Counterintuitively, it’s the lack of expectation of sex that actually drives stronger sexual desires and improves your sex life. But, you might wonder, how does that make any sense?
Well, cuddling allows you and your partner to experience emotional security. It allows you to put down your guard and be more emotionally open without being expected to give anything in return. Cuddling, in that way, is a selfless exercise — when done with your partner’s complete consent, of course. Since cuddling allows partners to lower their guards, they’re more likely to engage in sex without getting in their heads, which can improve the experience.
Cuddling strengthens your immune system
Cuddling doesn’t only improve your sex life; it improves your life in general. There’s convincing evidence to suggest that cuddling can improve your immune system, offering the same benefit as vitamins or regular exercise. Since cuddling helps you relax, it lowers the level of the stress hormone cortisol — the stress hormone can impair your immune system in the long run, leading to an increased risk of illnesses. Cuddling regulates your cortisol levels and strengthens your immune system, which, in turn, makes you feel better in the long run.
Cuddling doesn’t have to lead to sex
Just because cuddling can improve your sex life doesn’t mean it has to lead to sex. This point needs to be emphasized. Cuddling is a means for you to develop a strong emotional and physical bond with your partner. It’s an opportunity to enhance your intimacy, alleviate stress, and feel better about yourself and your relationship. But cuddling shouldn’t be seen as an opportunistic means of deriving or expecting more sex from your partner.
Cuddling, kissing, caressing, and all other forms of touch are important in and of themselves. You must learn to distinguish between sexual and nonsexual touch, and realize that all cuddling episodes don’t have to lead to sex. And similarly, all sexual experiences don’t have to end in orgasms. You should enjoy the process of cuddling your partner and allow it to enhance your intimacy. And if sex occurs as a result, that’s grand, but it shouldn’t be your driving goal or purpose.