The Lingering Benefits of Sex and Their Implications for Pair-Bonded Relationships
Sex presumably facilitates pair bonding, but how do partners remain pair-bonded between sexual acts? Evolutionary perspectives suggest that sexual afterglow serves this purpose. We explored how long sexual satisfaction would remain elevated following sex and predicted that stronger sexual afterglow would characterize more satisfying partnerships. We pooled the data from two independent, longitudinal studies of newlywed couples to examine these issues. Spouses reported their daily sexual activity and sexual satisfaction for 14 days and their marital satisfaction at baseline and 4 or 6 months later. Results demonstrated that sexual satisfaction remained elevated approximately 48 hr after sex, and spouses experiencing a stronger afterglow reported higher levels of marital satisfaction both at baseline and over time. We interpret these findings as evidence that sexual afterglow is a proximal cognitive mechanism through which sex promotes pair bonding.
It would be interesting to measure the afterglow following karezza.