It’s that passionate kiss in the rain that eventually leads to the electrifying love-making scene many of us have seen in romance films. Most of these on-screen couples are madly in love, but how much should this love affect the sex they’re having? A new study suggests that people in committed, loving relationships are having more fun in the bedroom than just those who are having casual sex.
For the study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Society, Penn State researchers interviewed 95 heterosexual women aged 20 to 68 from different types of backgrounds. Overall, the majority of women believed love — whether it was in a regular relationship or marriage — was necessary for a better sexual experience. The researchers concluded that when people in love had sex, the emotional experience was not only enhanced, but the physical experience was more pleasurable.
“When women feel love, they may feel greater sexual agency because they not only trust their partners but because they feel that it is OK to have sex when love is present," said Dr. Beth Montemurro, associate professor of sociology, in a press release. Fifty of the 95 women also said love was unecessary to have sex, but only 18 women were truly convinced that love was didn’t matter. Even older women believed that love was an important element of sex all throughout their marriages. “The connection between love and sex may show how women are socialized to see sex as an expression of love,” Montemurro said.
So what is it about sex and love that make for better lovemaking? For starters, studies show that love makes you healthier. When paired with sex, it could create a cycle of positive feedback. Some benefits of love include a healthier heart, improved mental health, less stress, less pain, and more happiness in your life, the Huffington Post reported.
Most women also get emotionally attached after sex, which could explain the beliefs of the women in the current study — there are also many movies where a woman’s attachment follows a long night of intense lovemaking. Part of this emotional attachment is due to the way our brains work. In 2012, Canadian researchers found that sexual desire and emotional love both come from the same place, the insular cortex, which is a part of the brain involved with emotion.
The takeaway from the study could be that sex and love are intertwined, and separating them can be detrimental to the sexual experience. While women still have casual sex, Montemurro’s research shows that most women still believe that loving sex is critical to relationships or marriage. When combined, it can be a very fulfilling experience.
Source: Montemurro B, et al. At The Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Society. 2014.