Having lots of good sex can do many things: relieve stress, help you sleep, and maybe give your immune system a boost. But one of the best benefits of all that bedroom action is that it helps you feel super connected to your partner. And that can make your relationship tighter, deeper, and better.
Science backs this up. One new study in Psychological Science found that couples feel higher levels of sexual satisfaction even two days after sex. This afterglow effect is essential to relationship satisfaction as well, the researchers found.
Any kind of sex can help increase your happiness as a couple, so long as there’s trust and communication, says Laurie Mintz, PhD, psychology professor at the University of Florida and author of Becoming Cliterate. How can you get to that space where your physical desires are fulfilled and you feel emotionally tight? These tips will take you there.
Touch often during sex
All sex positions have their benefits. But some keep your bodies relatively far apart—think woman on top, for example. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, yet if you’re hoping to feel emotionally closer to your partner, try positions that bring you physically together as well, such as missionary or spoon style. These allow you to press your bodies close together, so you feel the warmth of your bare skin. They also keep your hands free and lips close, so you can hold each other and kiss as well.
What’s so great about skin-on-skin contact? Touch is the most primal of all senses, and research shows that being touched by a partner prompts the release of oxytocin, aka the “love hormone” that promotes feelings of love and closeness.
Focus on foreplay
Not to knock intercourse, but most women need other forms of stimulation to have an orgasm. Without regular orgasms, you might feel like you’re getting shortchanged, and that doesn’t do much for your bond.
“To have the kind of sex that makes people closer as a couple no matter what your sexual orientation, start thinking about sex way more broadly that we normally do in our culture. It’s way beyond penis and vaginal sex,” recommends Mintz. Spending lots of time enjoying moves that traditionally happen during foreplay—oral sex, below-the-belt touching, deep kissing—can fulfill you physically and make you feel emotionally tight too.
Look into each other’s eyes
Making eye contact with your partner during sex makes you vulnerable, and revealing your vulnerable sides builds intimacy. Not everyone is an eyes-open-during-sex kind of person, and you don’t want to stare each other down either. But a mutual gaze as you pull back from a kiss or when you’re nearing toward orgasm is super intimate.
Communicate your desires
Being open about the touches and moves you crave will help you get that satisfying, soul-connecting sex—and it’ll also give your partner the sense that they can share their desires openly too. During sex, whisper where you want to be stroked, for example, or guide your partner’s hand to your body. You can also communicate your desires outside the bedroom, say by sending your significant other a sext describing something you want to try that evening. Being game to fulfill each other’s desires makes you both feel like equal partners who matter to each other.
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Be in the moment
We know, if one more person tells you about the benefits of being mindful, you’re going to scream. But mindfulness in the bedroom can really pay off. “Thinking about all the things you should be doing instead of sex makes it hard to engage with your partner and orgasm,” says Leah Millheiser, MD, clinical assistant professor of ob/gyn and director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford University.
She suggests thinking about intimacy as the most sacred time you have with your partner. To really be in the moment with one another, sync your breathing, kiss, and focus on the sensations of sex. By doing this, “women can become aroused faster and reach orgasm quicker. They feel like they have a more trusting relationship with their partner,” Dr. Millheiser says.