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Kimberly Lawson

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Research Shows Marriage Actually Gets Easier With Age

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According to studies, the longer you and your partner are married, the better your relationship will be.

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Why You Should Talk to Your Gal Pals About Your Sex Life

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Women who talk to their female friends about sex tend to have higher levels of sexual self-efficacy and self-esteem.

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Will Your Sexual Past Impact Your Marital Future?

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A study found that women who had more sexual partners before marriage were happier after tying the knot.

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Study Finds Couples Who Use Pet Names Are More Satisfied in Their Relationships

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A recent study found the most and least popular pet names that couples use.

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A Study Found That People Enjoyed Sex More When High Than When Drunk

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In a recent study by the Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers investigated if there was an association between using marijuana and unsafe sexual behaviors.

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Why It’s Totally OK to Be the Couple Who Refers to Themselves in the First-Person Plural

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A new study has found that couples who use “we-talk” can be more interdependent and likely happier.

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A Study Found That, Unsurprisingly, a Supportive Partner Can Help You Lose More Weight

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A study determined that a supportive partner, versus a highly critical one, can help women lose weight

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A New Study Found More Couples Are Delaying Marriage Due to Crushing Student Debt

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You can’t exactly prioritize saving for your dream wedding when you have years of student loan debt pilled up.

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The Benefits of Positive Thinking During Pregnancy Are Seriously Surprising

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The power of positive thinking throughout your pregnancy really might play a role in your baby’s development.

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Why We Gain Weight When We’re In Love

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A couple who eats together, gains weight together. According to new studies, most people gain weight when they’re in a serious relationship.

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THIS Is the Best Time of Day to Have Sex

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Aside from “whenever possible,” these are the most opportune times of the day—and month!—for ultimate sexual satisfaction.

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Receiving Fresh Flowers Can Help Relieve Stress

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Everyone wants their wedding to be beautiful, and of course a big part of that has to do with the floral arrangements. But making those gorgeous centerpieces happen is a thing in and of itself. How do you know which florist to work with? Should you DIY your wedding flowers to save money? And do you really want the tulips over the calla lilies?

As stressful as these decisions may be, by the time the ceremony is over, you may not even want to look at another bouquet of fresh flowers, much less have any hanging around your home.

But according to a recent experimental study from the University of North Florida, these little blooming bundles of nature actually make you feel better about life. The research, published on the Society of American Florists-run website About Flowers, found that adding fresh flowers to your home or office space was associated with a significant reduction in stress among women.

Researchers surveyed the stress levels of 170 women between the ages of 18-65 for 12 consecutive days using the Perceived Stress Questionnaire. About midway through the experiment, some of the women received an arrangement of flowers, while others received a really nice candle of approximately the same value. A third group of unfortunate women received absolutely nothing—they were the control group.

Unsurprisingly, the women who received the arrangement and lived with them for a few days “overwhelmingly reported that flowers improved their mood,” a summary of the research states. Certainly, if your honey has ever surprised you at work with roses, you can attest that this is spot-on. The average reduction in stress was -5.5 points on the Perceived Stress Questionnaire.

“There is a growing body of research that illustrates how environmental design positively impacts health,” said lead researcher Erin Largo-Wight, an associate professor of public health at the University of North Florida, in a statement. “Now it is both intuitive and scientifically known that adding elements of nature, like flowers, to interiors promotes well-being.”

The question is, why do flowers elicit positive emotions and lower our stress levels? A 2005 paper offered some theories: One, for example, suggested that humans have evolved to associate flowers with food gathering or the future availability of food, such as fruit or nuts. It’s also possible that we’re simply attracted to sensory stimuli, such as color and visual symmetry. Another idea the authors explore is the notion that humans evolved to want to cultivate and essentially save flowers from utter destruction: “Flowers may be the plant equivalent of companion animals,” they write.

See more: How Relationship Stress Can Affect Your Gut Health—And How To Fix It

As Largo-Wight pointed out in an interview with WTKR, the great thing about these findings is that it requires so little effort to stop by the grocery store on the way home and pick a bouquet of fresh, colorful, sweet-smelling flowers. “That’s something we can all consider doing to create those moments of calm in our day,” she said, “creating that restorative environment to promote our health and reduce our stress.”

If it means more coming from your partner, though, feel free to send him or her this article.

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What Makes Someone Desirable When Dating Online?

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Online dating has revolutionized the often awkward first date. Think about the classic rom-com You’ve Got Mail. There’s no way Meg Ryan’s character Kathleen Kelly wouldn’t have known that she was emailing/flirting with her bookstore rival Joe Fox (played by the ever charming Tom Hanks) if she’d been able to access his dating profile. Sure, they may not have even ended up together without that anonymity, but my point stands: Whether you’re an active account holder on Match.com or swiping left on Tinder, nowadays, it doesn’t take nearly as much time and effort to get to know a potential date before meeting them.

According to the Pew Research Center, the number of 18- to 24-year-olds who use online dating tripled from 10 percent in 2013 to 27 percent in 2016. But it’s only been in recent years that researchers have started gathering related scientific evidence. One of those studies, published this past August in the journal Science Advances, offers some really interesting findings regarding what makes someone desirable.

Using data gathered from active users of an unnamed heterosexual online dating site during the month of January 2014 (the study focused on four metropolitan markets: New York City, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle), researchers found that it’s entirely possible to attract a person you might think is out of your league. An analysis of messaging patterns showed that men and women both reach out to partners who were, according to the study’s measures, about 25 percent more desirable than themselves.

As the study’s authors write, “It appears that people are pursuing a hybrid strategy with elements of both [matching and competition]—they are aware of their own position in the hierarchy and adjust their behavior accordingly while, at the same time, competing modestly for more desirable mates.”

The most eyebrow-raising result from the study, however, had to do with age: According to their analysis, women reach peak desirability at the age of 18. For some reason, after women become eligible to vote, their appeal begins to decline. Men, on the other hand, don’t reach peak desirability until they’re 50—yes FIFTY!

“The age gradient for women definitely surprised us—both in terms of the fact that it steadily declined from the time women were 18 to the time they were 65, and also how steep it was,” Elizabeth Bruch, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Michigan and lead author of the study, told the New York Times.

It may also not surprise you to learn that the more education a man has, the more desirable he becomes online. A woman with a bachelor’s degree is also pretty hot—but once she starts pursuing a postgraduate education, her hotness level begins tapering off.

The study’s authors also found that in a vast majority of cases, it was men who first established contact online: In fact, more than 80 percent of the guys in their data set sent the first “You up?” (Metaphorically speaking, of course.) What’s interesting, though, is that both men and women tend to contact fewer potential partners if the people they typically hit up were more desirable than themselves. The study’s authors called this a “quality over quantity” approach.

Despite how grimy all of this feels—particularly if you’re a woman hoping to find Mr. or Ms. Right without leaving the comforts of your couch—we still go for online dating, if only for the slim chance we can get a date with an Idris Elba-lookalike. As the study states, “The chances of receiving a reply from a highly desirable partner may be low, but they remain well above zero, although one will have to work harder, and perhaps also wait longer, to make progress. Compared to the extraordinary effort male rats are willing to go through to mate with a desirable female; however, messaging two or three times as many potential partners to get a date seems quite a modest investment.”

See more: How to Win At Online Dating

Unless you’re the 30-year-old New York City woman cited in the study who received 1,504 messages in one month. That’s equivalent to one message every 30 minutes, day and night. If this is you, maybe deactivate your accounts and hit up a local bar instead.

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Are You Guilty of Singlism?

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According to a recent survey from Tinder, most young millennials are cool with being single for a while. Of a sample of 1,036 single adults, ages 18-25, 72 percent said they had “made a conscious decision” to do life unattached for a period of time, while 81 percent said that being on their own benefits them in other parts of their lives, such as work and personal wellness.

These findings fly in the face of everything society has ever taught us. As Darcy Sterling, a licensed clinical social worker, told USA TODAY recently: “Historically, people blindly set out to cross off items on their young-adult-to-do list: Go to school. Work hard. Find a partner. Get married. Have children. Encourage your children to do the same. Rinse and repeat.”

Women no longer need a partner to help them build an enjoyable and sustainable life. We don’t even need them to have children. We can do all that on our own, thank you very much.

Yet for all the progress we’ve made around gender equality, society still pushes the narrative that we need to get married to really have a happily ever after. And you, sorry to say, may be perpetuating those unfair expectations without even realizing it.

Think about it. As a recently engaged or married person, have you suddenly made it your mission to hook up your single cousin with one of your partner’s friends? Have you clucked a sympathetic tongue and attempted to comfort your unattached co-workers by telling them, “Don’t worry—your time will come”?

That’s singlism, my friend.

According to Bella DePaulo, an author and scholar who’s made it her life’s work to practice and study single life, singlism is “the stigmatizing of adults who are single.” That, she writes, can include “negative stereotyping of singles and discrimination against singles.”

In a recent post for Psychology Today, DePaulo talks about how singlism needs to be taken more seriously. For example, she writes, singlism typically leaves people less financially secure. It’s no secret that our country’s laws are set up to bolster married couples—we talk about the tax benefits of getting married all the time. Single people also often pay more for housing, and when it comes to health care, they don’t have the option to be added to another person’s workplace insurance plan like many married employees do.

Also, single people are often asked unfairly to stay late at work while their married colleagues get to go home, and research has shown that they experience sexual harassment in the workplace more.

DePaulo also shares stories of uncoupled people being denied important health care because they’re not married: One single woman told her that she was denied a hysterectomy, even though she suffered from severe menstrual issues, because she “might want to have kids someday.”

Marriage is a beautiful thing; we love love. But singlism is alive and well in America, and we can begin to address it by not being dismissive of our single friends. They don’t necessarily need a lifetime partner to be happy with their lives.

See more: How to Treat the Single Bridesmaid(s) in Your Wedding Party

That’s why that recent Tinder survey is so newsworthy. As DePaulo writes: “After generations of single people feeling bad about being single – or at least thinking they should feel bad, here are new generations of young people who do not seem the least bit shamed about their single lives.”

She adds: “I’m tempted to say: This changes everything.”

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Men and Women Sleep WAY Differently—Here's Why

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If you’re excited at the prospect of falling asleep next to the love of your life every night, we have some news for you: Because of biological differences between men and women’s sleep, it’s likely that you and your partner will actually have slightly different snoozing schedules. In my house, for example, that means I’m usually in bed by 11 p.m. while my boyfriend is up till the wee hours of the morning playing video games.

Personal experience aside, researchers say there are several ways in which men and women differ in the way they sleep. Here are just a few.

Women Fall Asleep Earlier and Wake Up Earlier

Thanks to internal clocks—also known as circadian rhythms—that tend to run on the fast side, women are more inclined to hit the hay at an earlier hour than their male partners. In a 2011 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sleep scientists found that when they controlled the sleep patterns of 157 people—which they did by isolating subjects in a windowless lab for eight weeks so they were unaware of the time of day—the biological clocks of women were shorter by about six minutes.

“Even a slight difference can have significant impact on nightly sleep and on energy levels during the day,” clinical psychologist and sleep expert Michael J. Breus explained for Psychology Today. “Think about a clock that runs a handful of minutes behind every day. Over time, those minutes really add up!”

When They Do Finally Go To Bed, Men Fall Asleep Faster

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than one in four American women experience insomnia, compared with fewer than one in five men. While it’s unclear what exactly causes insomnia, experts have a number of guesses that impact women specifically: From fluctuations in hormones due to periods, pregnancy and menopause, to the sheer existence of children, it’s a miracle women are ever able to get any rest.

Women Need More Sleep

Jim Horne, author of Sleepfaring: A Journey Through The Science Of Sleep, argues that women need about 20 minutes more than their male partners. “The more of your brain you use during the day, the more of it that needs to recover and, consequently, the more sleep you need,” he told The Daily Mail. “Women tend to multi-task—they do lots at once and are flexible—and so they use more of their actual brain than men do. Because of that, their sleep need is greater.”

No wonder we always zonk out before the ending of a movie.

Women Handle Sleep Loss Way Better Than Men

In a 2011 study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 16 men and 18 women were asked to sleep only six hours a night over the course of six consecutive nights. The following two days, participants were given the chance to “catch up” on missed sleep the next two days.

See more: Lack of Sleep Will Destroy Your Libido

Researchers found that women did better on performance tests than men during the period their sleep was restricted; they did even better after they caught up on some missed Z’s. These differences appeared to be connected to more waves of deep sleep. As principal investigator Dr. Alexandros N. Vgontzas noted in a statement, it seemed that deep sleep offered “a protective effect” for women, but not in men.

Or, to put it another way, even sleep-deprived women really can do it all. No wonder we live longer.

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Women With A Keener Sense of Smell Might Have More Orgasms, Study Says

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More than a decade after we broke up, my first love still comes to mind whenever I catch a whiff of Acqua di Giò Pour Homme by Giorgio Armani, his favorite cologne. I haven’t spoken to him in many years, but to this day, if this fresh, unobtrusive fragrance happens to cross my path, I’m 18 years old again and a little weak in the knees.

Of course, this is the same guy who left me to marry another woman a month later. That’s how you know how powerful the sense of smell really is.

In fact, it appears we don’t give our noses enough credit when it comes to the role smells play in sexual attraction. According to a study published recently in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, women with a better sense of smell appear to have more orgasms.

Past research has found that people with health issues that impact their olfactory function—a fancy way of saying things related to smelling—also reported a reduced interest in sex. The German researchers behind the current study, however, wanted to investigate the relationship between smell and aspects of sex among healthy people.

Their sample size was fairly small: 42 women and 28 men. To assess how sensitive their sniffing capabilities were, researchers had participants take a “Sniffin’ Sticks” test—yes, really—where they had to smell three pens and guess which one contained a faint odor. Participants also answered questions that measured aspects of their sexuality, including how fiercely they desired sex, how “pleasant” their bedroom interactions were, and how frequently they’d got it on in the last month and for how long. Additionally, women were asked to share how often they orgasmed during intercourse.

In their analysis of the data, the study’s authors found no significant correlation between odor sensitivity and sexual desire or performance. But they did find that super-sniffers reported better sexual experiences; for women, that also meant more orgasms.

“The experience of sexual interactions appears to be enriched by olfactory input,” the study’s authors write. “The perception of certain body odors may contribute to the concept of sexual pleasure by enhanced recruitment of reward areas.”

In other words, it’s not that a person’s sense of smell really has anything to do whether or not they want to get their groove on; rather, inhaling the sweet smells of fluids and sweat “seems to enrich the sexual experience,” they write.

In an interview with The Sun, psychotherapist Phillip Hodson offered an interesting point. “The findings suggest having a head cold and blocked nose may make arousal more difficult. Clearing the nose may be a useful strategy. I know from my own sex therapy practice that you can improve sexual response among healthy women and men by getting them to consciously smell their partners.”

See more: Study Shows That People in Open Relationships Have Better Sex

With flu season upon us, stocking up on Vitamin C, elderberries, or whatever remedies you use to stay healthy may take on a whole new sense of urgency. While there were some limitations to the study—for example, the authors did not assess the status of female participants’ menstrual cycle, which could affect a number of measures assessed in the research—the findings really suggest that maybe we shouldn’t be looking down our noses (pun intended!) at the role the sense of smell plays in women’s orgasms.

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On-Again, Off-Again Relationships Can Be Terrible For Your Mental Health

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If there’s one thing we’ve learned from R&B songstress Mariah Carey, it’s that it’s OK to be full-throttle, heart-wide-open, let’s get matching tattoos fiercely in love. No wonder her name pops up so much on wedding reception song lists.

Throughout her robust catalog of soulful love songs, Carey’s also taught us that it’s totally fine to mourn when a relationship ends. (See “Butterfly” and “Always Be My Baby.”) Because—according to the worldview reflected in her ’90s and aughts work at least—that person will eventually come back anyway, and that’s how you know you were meant to be.

In 2018, we’re not sure that take is all that healthy. According to a new study published in the journal Family Relations, this kind of on-again, off-again relationship—think Carrie and Mr. Big in Sex and the City—is actually pretty harmful for your mental health.

Relationship transitions are tough for everyone. Anywhere between 30 to 50 percent of young people have cycled in their current relationship, and a quarter of married young adults have reported getting back together after a brief separation, according to research cited by the study’s authors. When compared to those without a history of breaking and and reconciling and breaking up again, “on–off relationships are associated with higher rates of violence and verbal abuse, poorer communication, as well as lower levels of satisfaction and commitment.”

To get a better understanding of these on-again, off-again cycles and how they impact different people, researchers examined data collected from 545 individuals in same-sex and different-sex relationships. Participants were asked to track how frequently they experienced symptoms of depression and anxiety over a two-week period. They also shared if they had a history of cycling through a relationship, and how often they had broken up and gotten back together with that person. LGBTQ participants also reported about additional stressors, including whether they’d experienced rejection or victimization because of their sexual orientation.

According to the study’s findings, about a third of people admitted to having a history of relationship cycling—some as many as eight times! That was consistent among both straight and gay people. Not surprisingly, those people also reported more psychological distress.

As the authors explain, “Not only can transitions out of a relationship affect psychological adjustment, but transitioning into relationships without deliberation and dedication to seeing the relationship continue can also be distressing. Similarly, transitions may create uncertainty about the future of the relationship, which is associated with depressive symptoms and may be an important mechanism in the link between relationship quality and mental health.”

Ultimately, these findings read like an important wake-up call. If you and your partner are engaged to be married and still waffling, the study suggests it’s less likely you’re going to actually make it down the aisle because of such instability. And, the authors write, while “married couples can experience separation or divorce and renewal, often in the form of a ‘trial separation,’ the reconciliations tend to be short-lived, with many who reconcile separating again within the first few years after reuniting.”

Kale Monk is an assistant professor of human development and family science at the University of Missouri-Columbia and lead author on the study. “The findings suggest that people who find themselves regularly breaking up and getting back together with their partners need to ‘look under the hood’ of their relationships to determine what’s going on,” he said in a statement. “If partners are honest about the pattern, they can take the necessary steps to maintain their relationships or safely end them. This is vital for preserving their well-being.”

Or, as he told Time: “It is okay to end a toxic relationship.”

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Can Climate Change Affect Fertility?

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Fall may be creeping at our door, but it’s going to take us a while to get over the sweltering heat that’s plagued us the last few months. It was so hot this summer, we hallucinated that fanny packs were back in style. (Oh, wait.)

As these steamy days become more frequent—thanks, climate change—one surprising effect might alter your five-year plan to start a family. According to a new study published in the journal Demography, global warming is making it more difficult for couples to conceive.

For their analysis, the study’s authors looked at birth counts at the state-by-month level and weather data from 1931 through 2010. They discovered a number of interesting things. For example, August and September are two of the busiest months for births in the U.S., thus suggesting that people are most likely to conceive between December and January—aka, cuffing season. Additionally, they found that birth rates are lowest in northeastern states and highest in southern states, but that may be due to other factors outside of rising temperatures, including poverty rates.

Researchers also discovered that make-you-sweat temperatures—that is, 80 degrees and up—were related to a large decline in birth rates 8 to 10 months later. “The effect size,” they wrote in an explainer for The Conversation, “is largest at nine months: on average, each hot day reduces birth rates nine months later by 0.4 percent or about 1,100 births.”

It’s not just that people are turned off at the idea of getting all hot and bothered when it’s, well, hot and bothersome outside. “We find that temperature at the time of conception has no discernible effect on conceptions,” the study states. “However, we find that hot weather does indeed reduce conceptions when exposure occurs two weeks before the estimated time of conception.”

It’s possible, the study’s authors suggest, that fewer people are able to conceive because of the way heat impacts men’s reproductive health. Experimental studies on animals have found that high temperatures can slow sperm production.

Of course, an obvious solution for these fertility issues is to crank up the AC. The study’s authors recognize this, but add: “The costs of increased AC usage include greenhouse gas emissions, underscoring the fundamental dilemma in using energy-intensive technologies to adapt to climate change.” (Not to mention the fact that not all Americans can afford air conditioning.)

Meanwhile, maybe the idea of fewer babies being born into the world sounds great to you. This might particularly hit the spot if you’ve ever had to squeeze into a crowded subway during a particularly humid July morning—yuck. Fewer people, you reason, means fewer bodies doing what they do to make the earth warmer and contribute to climate change, right?

See more: How Being Over 35 Can Affect Fertility

Alan Barreca, an environmental economist at the University of California, Los Angeles and the study’s lead author, disagrees. “There are much more effective ways to reduce the birth rate on the planet,” he said in a statement. “Providing women with economic opportunities and access to birth control have a much bigger effect on the birth rate.”

We like the way he thinks.

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A Woman’s Orgasm is the Key to Better Sex

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In author Emily Koenig’s newest book, Moan: Anonymous Essays on Female Orgasm, one of the contributors makes a familiar confession: “I haven’t been completely honest with, say…70 percent of you,” the unnamed woman writes in a passage published by Broadly. “You were led to believe that you made me orgasm and I’m so sorry to say…you did not…ahem…cross the finish line.”

She’s certainly not alone. According to a recent survey, anywhere between 20 to 31 percent of women say they’ve faked an orgasm during sex at some point in their life.

Koenig’s book, which came out in May, isn’t a guide about how to make a woman come, even though the work was inspired by a similarly named Tumblr the author created. “It’s more like, hey, pay attention to female pleasure,” Koenig writes. “Pay attention to women.”

Helping women better understand sex is always important, but maybe even more so after the findings of a new study were published recently in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. It appears that many men, sadly, have no clue how often their wives orgasm.

Researchers out of Brigham Young University were interested in better understanding how an orgasmic experience is connected to sexual and relationship satisfaction, and chose to focus on heterosexual newlyweds for their investigation. They asked 1,683 couples to rate individually how frequently they orgasmed and how frequently they thought their partner orgasmed. They also analyzed how well the couples communicated with one another about their sexual needs and desires, and factored in satisfaction.

The study confirmed that self-reported orgasm and the perception of a partner’s orgasm were positively associated with both sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction. According to the study’s results, 87 percent of husbands said they consistently climaxed during sex. Women, however, had a different story to tell: Only 49 percent of wives said they regularly reached the Big O.

Researchers also found that almost half (43 percent) of husbands “misperceived” how often their partners experienced orgasm. Yikes.

In an interview with IFLScience!, study lead author Nathan Leonhardt offered a few thoughts on why this orgasm perception gap exists: “When a husband overperceives how often she’s orgasmic, she might be faking orgasm in hopes of him feeling more satisfied with the experience,” he said. “When a husband underperceives how often she’s orgasmic, she might not have been open about whether she orgasmed or not, leaving the husband with nothing but his best guess.”

But one of the biggest takeaways from the study, the authors write, is that women’s orgasm is uniquely associated with sexual satisfaction, “as wives’ self-reported orgasm was linked with their own sexual satisfaction, and husbands’ perceiving their wives to be orgasmic reported higher sexual satisfaction.”

They add: “This study is not suggesting that husbands’ orgasms are not important, rather they are ubiquitous. Considering the variability in wives’ orgasms … this study provides evidence that attentiveness to the wife’s orgasm experience may promote greater sexual satisfaction for both husbands and wives.

See more: Why Good Sex Requires Empathy

And there we have it: Like all great things in life, communication is key. “If both partners are comfortable with their own sexuality and able to accurately communicate how they feel about their experiences,” Leonhardt told IFLScience!, “wives will more likely achieve orgasm, and both partners will likely experience higher sexual fulfillment.”

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Study Shows That People In Open Relationships Have Better Sex

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Open marriages aren’t for everyone. But if you’re intrigued at the idea of abandoning the notion that only one person can fulfill you romantically, sexually, and emotionally, you’re certainly not alone. According to a recent poll from the Kinsey Institute, about one in five Americans have engaged in consensual non-monogamy (CNM)—that is, relationships in which partners agree to be romantically and/or sexually involved with people outside of what might be considered their primary relationship.

In fact, as interest in CNM has increased in recent years, researchers have also worked to better understand these types of relationships. For example, what are some of the benefits of practicing non-monogamy? According to one recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, one has to do with sexual satisfaction.

The study, led by Amy Muise, an assistant professor of psychology at York University in Toronto, is the first of its kind to investigate the link between sexual need fulfillment and relationship satisfaction among people in CNM relationships. It’s an important topic; after all, as Muise and her coauthors point out—and perpetually single people everywhere can confirm—getting everything you need from a romantic partner can be “a tall order.”

For their analysis, researchers conducted two different surveys of a total of 1,054 participants who reported being CNM. They asked the subjects to rate how satisfied they were in their relationships, how sexually fulfilled they felt, and how far they thought their partners would go to rock their world, among other things.

According to the study’s findings, participants who said they felt more sexually fulfilled in their primary relationship (which was determined by who they spent the most time with, not necessarily who they considered to be their main squeeze) and thought their primary partner was particularly intent on meeting their needs also reported feeling more satisfied in their secondary relationship. In other words, there was a “spillover effect” from a person’s primary relationship into their secondary relationship: Their cups runneth over.

“One explanation for these additive or ‘spillover’ effects,” the authors write, “is that having multiple partners is a way for people to achieve greater sexual need fulfillment, and this, in turn, enhances each relationship.” They also suggest that it’s possible having a primary partner who is gungho about meeting one’s sexual needs, even if they cannot fulfill all of those desires themselves, allows people to seek out other relationships for specific purposes. For example, if a woman’s primary partner is unwilling or unable to take on a specific sex act, she may seek to engage in that elsewhere.

More broadly, the findings suggest monogamous couples could learn a lot from CNM couples. Not only does it take a “strong foundation” to maintain a primary partnership when the relationship is open to outside partners, “open communication and managing jealousy and attraction are insights that CNM relationships could afford monogamous relationships,” the study states.

See more: What is Ethical Non-Monogamy and Could It Work For Your Marriage?

Kate Kincaid, an Arizona-based psychologist who works with polyamorous couples, agrees. In a recent interview with TIME, she said: “The biggest thing that I appreciate about poly people is that they focus on knowing what their needs are and get their needs met in creative ways—relying more on friends or multiple partners instead of putting it all on one person.”

She added: “Once [monogamists] get into a relationship, they tend to value their romantic partner above everyone else.”

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