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Cuddling more important to men than women: study

A study of more than 1,000 couples in long-term, committed relationships found that frequent kissing, cuddling and caressing were predictors of relationship happiness for men only.

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Shattering gender stereotypes, an international study has found that men need cuddling more than women.

Researchers from the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University discovered that cuddles and caresses are key to a couples' satisfaction in their long-term relationship, but tenderness is more important to men than women.

The study, which looked at more than 1,000 couples in long-term, committed relationships from the United States, Brazil, Germany, Japan and Spain, found that frequent kissing, cuddling and caressing were predictors of relationship happiness for men only. Researchers said they found "striking" the degree to which physical intimacy (and not necessarily sexual intimacy) was rated as important to men's, but not women's, relationship happiness.

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The study sheds light on a relatively unexplored area of research on the sexuality of middle-aged and older couples in long-term relationships. The couples who participated in the study were 40- to 70-year-old men and their female partners, who were either married or living together for at least one year.

Both men and women said they were happier the longer they had been together. Japanese couples, however, reported being significantly happier in their relationships than participants of all other nationalities. Moreover, Japanese men and Japanese and Brazilian women were more likely to report being sexually satisfied. The researchers noted relationship and sexual satisfaction may not be the same thing for all couples and all cultures.

Overall, men were more likely to report relationship happiness if they were in good health and if they felt it was important that their partners experienced orgasm. However, they were less sexually satisfied if they had more sex partners in their lifetime, which may suggest that Casanovas aren't quite as fulfilled by their sex lives as they'd have others believe.

The study found that women's sexual satisfaction increased over time. Women who had been with their partner for more than 15 years were more likely to be sexually satisfied.

"Possibly, women become more satisfied over time because their expectations change, or life changes with the children grown," suggested lead author Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute. "On the other hand, those who weren't so happy sexually might not be married so long."

Is it surprising that men are into cuddling? Is there societal pressure for men to hide their tender side?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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