Can you think back to a time when you and your partner were having sex often? Maybe that was in the beginning of your relationship, or maybe that was last week. When you think of that time, do you recall feeling closer and more bonded with your partner? There’s a reason for that. Sex, for several reasons, brings us closer together and makes us feel more connected to our partners. The reasons for this link between frequency of sex and connection comes down to three basic factors; neuroscience, our beliefs about sex, and the emotional effect sex has upon our beliefs about our relationships. These factors combine to have a significant impact on how we think and feel.
Let’s start with the science of orgasms. When we have enjoyable sex, there are several hormones which are released into the brain. I’ll skip the nuances and say that these hormones are at the highest levels at the time of orgasm. Serotonin, also known as the happy hormone, gets released during sex. The amount of this hormone is proportionate to how much pleasure we are experiencing. Endorphins and dopamine are also major contributors to the good feelings that surge when we are having any kind of sexual experience. Oxytocin, also known as the bonding or trust hormone, surges during and after orgasm. It is the main contributor to that feeling of closeness you get after sex. You can extend that high level of oxytocin and feeling connected by cuddling, touching, or extending post play.
The second factor, our beliefs about sex, contribute a great deal to the level of connection we feel when we are having sex frequently. I will not be covering unhealthy sexual beliefs or sexual dysfunction in this particular piece because those topics deserve more attention than what could be incorporated into this overview; that will come later. But the majority of people equate frequent, satisfying sex with someone we love with positive attributes about ourselves and our partners. Putting all of those happy hormones aside for now, there is a clear emotional link between our beliefs and our level of satisfaction with ourselves and our partners. Don’t you feel more attractive and desirable when you are having good sex frequently? Don’t you feel more confident after successful sex? Do you maybe feel more generous towards your partner during those periods when your sex life is great? There are numerous beliefs that result in those feelings. In general, people want to be desired, feel that their partner is strongly attracted to them, satisfy our partner’s sexual needs, and make the one we love happy. Good sex accomplishes all of those things. You may have also noted that the inverse is true. When we are not having frequent sex, we feel less attractive, less sexually competent, and our self- esteem takes a hit.
Have you ever heard that sex is a great barometer for the health of your relationship? Whether you have heard this phrase or another variation, most people learn that good sex equals a good relationship. This is partially true. Changes in your sex life, both good and bad, can be indicators of the level of satisfaction with the relationship. However, there are plenty of examples of situations where this correlation does not hold true. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to any changes in frequency and quality of sex with your partner, but don’t jump to conclusions. There may be a sexual problem that occurs that is not indicative of anything outside of the problem itself. However, there may be a problem with communication or self-care that does not become apparent until it affects your sex life. Regardless, the important take away is that you need to pay attention to any change and discuss it. You may be experiencing a dry spell because of work fatigue, but if you don’t talk about it, your partner may be thinking it’s about them. Having a mutually satisfying sex life almost always makes people feel warm and fuzzy about the satisfaction level of their relationship. It pays to pay attention. If you notice a change, address it. You will find that the communication problems don’t seem so insurmountable if you are sexually satisfying your partner and making them feel confident in that area of the relationship.
Discuss these topics with your partner and learn what you both believe regarding sex and closeness. It’s important to know what both of you believe so any discrepancies can be addressed. Frequent, satisfying sex, although mentioned generically throughout, means very different things to different people. You need to know if frequent sex means once a month to you and every day to your partner. It’s important to discover if your partner determines how satisfying a sexual experience is by the duration, types of sexual acts, or number of orgasms. There are always solutions if you discover a discrepancy, but you can’t start the process of creative problem solving until you know what needs to be solved. Talk about it, and then get busy. You will feel closer as a result.
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