Sex Differences in Post-Sex Activities…Let’s Cuddle!

To cuddle or not to cuddle: That is the question.

Posted Apr 20, 2011


Over the past month or so, I took a short hiatus from the blogosphere, as I had to wrap up the final details of my two latest forthcoming books. I am delighted to report that I am nearly done with the galley proofs, subject indexes, and other final production details. Time to get back to some PT blogging!

Of all evolutionary-based studies that have explored sex differences in human mating, few have investigated post-coital issues. In a forthcoming paper to be published in the Journal of Sex Research, Susan M. Hughes and Daniel J. Kruger tackled this exact matter. From an evolutionary perspective, post-coital behaviors are important in that they are indicative of actions that humans engage in as part of the process of pair-bonding. Generally speaking, one would expect that the greater the biparental investment within a given species, the more one should expect to find post-coital bonding.

Hughes and Kruger administered an online survey to 170 individuals regarding various activities prior to and immediately following sex. Furthermore, they broke up the phenomenon into short-term versus long-term mating, as the temporal context of a relationship is an important consideration in human sexuality.

For the purposes of this post, I will restrict myself to a subset of the collected data, namely the importance placed by the two sexes on five post-coital behaviors (in a long-term mating context). The participants were asked to rate the importance of intimate talking, kissing, cuddling, proclaiming that you love your partner, and discussing the relationship (using a 1-5 scale of importance; higher the score implies greater importance). Perhaps not surprisingly, women scored higher than men on the extent to which they placed importance on post-coital bonding. Here are the results for each of the five metrics (from Table 3 in the article).

Intimate Talking:
Males 3.14
Females 3.41

Males 3.06
Females 3.45

Cuddling (and caressing):
Males 3.48
Females 3.76

Saying that you love each other:
Males 2.75
Females 3.07

Talking about your relationship:
Males 2.35
Females 2.60

The latter findings, which I suppose most readers might have predicted, are contrary to the feminist position taken by the British author Julie Burchill who proclaimed: "Sex, on the whole, was meant to be short, nasty and brutish. If what you want is cuddling, you should buy a puppy."

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