A close, trusted mate is the element researchers most associated with wellbeing in study after study on the benefits of intimacy. One key is frequent partnered sexual activity of all types (minus penile-anal intercourse). According to researchers, “frequently connecting with a partner physically may promote feelings of emotional satisfaction regardless of the actual activity”.
In today’s world with its sharp focus on instant gratification and immediate hot sex, intimacy can become the hidden casualty. With the ready availability of free apps like Tinder and Grindr, hookup culture is the new norm for many more people. Constant novelty at a click or swipe. Each potential mate feels like a thrilling opportunity to our primitive brain. Even a really good date can be a blind alley if one of the partners believes there may be someone better just around the corner. This can lead to high levels of churn in a person’s romantic life.
When researching the benefits of intimacy another sexology team pointed out that, “great sex” had very little to do with proper physiological functioning (e.g., hard erections, vaginal lubrication, intercourse, orgasm). They concluded, “The actual sexual behaviours and acts performed are far less important than … mind set and intent”.
Scientists are beginning to scratch the surface of why intimate relationships are so beneficial. Above all, they reduce stress. Oxytocin is associated with warm touch and emotional ties. Does it help explain some of the benefits associated with pair bonding? There is also growing interest in the use of oxytocin as a potential treatment for alcohol and other substance-use disorders.