Sex journalist Nadia Bokody won’t even hug her own boyfriend for fear of ruining their sex life
Outspoken media commentator and Sexpert Nadia Bokody is so convinced that cuddling ruins your sex life, she won’t even hug her own boyfriend.
By Nadia Bokody
6th June 2018, 8:08 pm
I’m going to come right out and say something controversial: cuddling is terrible for your sex life.
There’s no better way to dampen the flames of desire than snuggling with your significant other on the couch after a long day at work.
Which is why I rather unconventionally avoid cozying up to my boyfriend when we flick on Netflix on a lazy Friday night?
Now, before you start wielding your internet pitchforks and branding me a heartless mate, you should read on, because my theory is backed by science (and my sex life has never been better).
The desire-intimacy paradox
We’re all familiar with that feel-good dopamine high at the start of a new relationship.
There’s a sense of mystery about what the future holds, and a rush of excitement that comes with it. Each interaction is laden with sexual tension and anticipation.
You carefully consider what you’re going to wear, the personality traits you’ll cultivate, and the quirks you’ll keep quiet (like the fact you sometimes fart if you laugh too hard).
Then, slowly but surely, intimacy builds as you grow comfortable with one another.
Before you know it, you’re happily hanging out on the couch together in your oldest sweats, eating crisps from your lap and detailing the bout of diarrhea you had after last night’s Indian.
Being completely at ease around another human being is an incredibly satisfying, secure feeling, and it’s the stuff love is made of.
But it’s also, rather annoyingly, the very antithesis of sexual desire.
It’s no coincidence that we tend to begin relationships barely able to keep our hands off of one another, only to end up struggling to work up the willpower to get it on on a semi-regular basis, years later.
A study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior revealed that, while most couples reported an increase in sexual satisfaction over the course of the first year of their relationship, that rating steadily declined the longer they were together, as did the frequency with which they were having intercourse.
This information shouldn’t be particularly shocking to anyone who’s married.
And this decline in sexual desire is so pronounced in long-term monogamous relationships, academics have coined it the ‘desire-intimacy paradox’.
Ironically, what we most yearn for at the onset of a new relationship – intimacy and security – is exactly what destroys the feelings of intense passion that led us there in the first place.
Out with the old, in with the new
It’s human nature to constantly seek out novelty and newness, but while routine has its place in our lives, we tend to tire of it rather easily.
Which is why it’s not entirely surprising the traditional model of marriage is beginning to evolve to encompass concepts like polyamory and swinging.
But you needn’t open your marriage to re-experience newness in your relationship if the sex has gone stale.
In fact, research has proven it’s entirely possible to trick your brain into flicking the desired switch back on when you look at your partner.
The secret is incredibly simple: stop cuddling.
When we embrace someone – be it a child, a friend or spouse – oxytocin, also known as “the bonding hormone” is released.
Oxytocin is what gives us that super close, comfortable feeling when we’re with someone. However, if you want to jump-start your flagging sex life, you’re going to need to do away with comfort as much as possible.
This doesn’t mean ditching hugging your partner indefinitely; the odd cuddle can be lovely – just don’t overdo it.
I personally roll over to my own side of the bed after a quick embrace with my partner, rather than spooning all night long, and we tend to reserve long hugs for moments when emotional support is really needed.
Otherwise, we largely leave extended touching for sexual foreplay.
It might sound radical, but it works.
My skin still prickles with pleasure when my partner’s hand grazes mine because we’ve made physical intimacy something special, rather than a routine expectation.
Keeping your distance
While I’m definitely not advocating doing away with intimacy altogether, limiting it is a sure-fire way to quickly and easily resurrect a sex-starved union.
This doesn’t mean ignoring your spouse or avoiding any contact with them that isn’t purely sexual, it’s just about paring things back to reinstall a little mystery.
Sure, it’s comforting to spend your life with someone with whom you feel free to burp and fart in front of, and share details of your latest trip to the gynecologist with – but it’s also a total mood killer.
Is it frustrating that intimacy and sexual desire can’t coexist? Absolutely.
But if there’s anything I’ve learned over years of studying and writing about sex and relationships, it’s that the most successful unions always involve compromise.
So if you personally favor cuddling up on the couch over romping in the sheets, then, by all means, go for it.
Just ensure it’s a sacrifice your partner’s on board with, too.