It is an oft-repeated stereotype that while men want to have sex women prefer an affectionate cuddle.
But a study has found that in long term relationships, hugging and kissing are more important to the happiness of men than women.
The research, by sociologists at the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University, is the first international study of sexual behaviour and debunks many a popular bedroom theory.
Experts found that the longer women have been with their partner the more they enjoy sex while men place the most importance on their other half’s sexual satisfaction.
More than 1,000 couples in five countries, the US, Germany, Spain, Brazil and Japan, took part in the survey, all of whom were aged between 40 and 70 and had been in a relationship for an average of 25 years.
Both sexes said that they were happier and enjoyed a better sex life the longer they were together. But it was women who were more likely to report being sexually satisfied while more men said they were happy with their relationship.
Men who said kissing and cuddling were a regular part of their relationship were on average three times happier than those who did not.
Women, who are almost always portrayed as the more tactile sex, said that kissing and cuddling had little bearing on their happiness.
Julia Heiman, the report’s author, said that women’s sexual satisfaction may increase with age because as they grow older they have fewer pressures
“It’s possible that women became more satisfied over time because their expectations change, or life changes when their children grow up,” she said.
“We know from other research that being in a long-term relationship has some value to health. Now we can learn more about what really makes relationships both sustainable and happy.”
-With theglobeandmail.com input