Though an intimate and loving act, a cuddling session between partners rarely leads to anything more, say researchers. Though couples cosy up for an average of 47 minutes and 36 seconds eight times a week, only one in six of these occasions leads to them having sex.
The study published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour defines a cuddle as “intimate, physical and loving contact that does not involve sexual behaviour and that involves some degree of whole body touching, not just hand to hand or lips to lips”. It questioned more than 500 men and women in relationships about how cuddling made them feel and how often they partake in a snuggle session with their partner.
And rather than a precursor to sex, as it could be perceived, cuddling is more often used as a chance to catch up with each other and chat about the day. Couples are most likely to cuddle during non-sexual pastimes such as watching a film or TV, while talking, listening to music, having a massage or reading. Popular cuddle locations were the sofa, armchair or bed.
Dr Sari van Anders, who worked on the research said: "Men and women reported feeling nurtured, protective and relaxed after cuddling and rarely mentioned sex when questioned about what they did or felt during cuddling, but talked about love, intimacy, closeness and comfort."
From the survey responses, it appears women enjoy cuddling more than men do, but despite it failing to ignite passion between the sheets it does fuel healthy relationships. Those who cuddled regularly reported a healthier sex life than those who were more hands off with their partners.
Perhaps rather than focusing on the amount of sex we’re having, a healthier indicator of relationship happiness is the number of cuddles.