Sunset photo of a couple embracing on the beach.
Men need hugs, perhaps even more than women, says the Kinsey Institute. (Photo Credit: CC BY-ND/Amy Humphries/Flickr)

Affectionate hugs trigger the release of brain endorphins, which medical experts claim have an even more powerful effect on our sense of well-being than heroin or morphine. A recent Kinsey Report has turned traditional Western views about men and women upside down. The report says men need more hugs and tenderness in long-term relationships, while women lean more toward sexual satisfaction.

Men hug

Kinsey researchers interviewed more than 1,000 heterosexual couples across the U.S., Brazil, Germany, Japan and Spain. Partners ranged in age from 25 to 76 and had been committed to the relationship an average of 25 years. According to MSNBC Today, the study is one of the first ever to examine long-term sexual and relationship satisfaction among middle aged and older couples.

“There are so many popular stereotypes, caricatures and jokes about women and sex, but this study is saying that, for the average couple, sex is important and maybe it’s even a tad more important for female partners,” said study co-author Dr. Raymond Rosen of New England Research Institutes.

Men need hugs, said David Rudolph, 44, who was one of the study subjects.

“I really appreciate it when (my wife) holds my hand or slides closer to me on the sofa,” he said. “It’s more important for me to get hugged and touched; everything doesn’t have to be about having sex.”

Hug, kiss, caress and be merry

When the flame of intimacy in a relationship is regularly stoked, sexual satisfaction survives. The Kinsey survey found that both men and women were more satisfied the longer they remained together. Women felt the sex in their relationships improved with age. Men felt the greatest satisfaction when they were physically healthy and knew that their partners enjoyed sex.

As for the surprising divide between men and women when it comes to physical intimacy, study co-author Michael Sand of Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals of Richfield, Conn., reminded that real sex research breaks through sexual stereotypes:

“This is an important study because it shows people can be in relationships for decades and still enjoy healthy, vibrant sexuality,” Sand said. “A lot of stuff we hear in the media is fueled by popular press, anecdotes and information people take as a given. It’s a stereotype; it’s not what we have as reality in research.”

All you need is hug

There’s a reason Juan Mann and his “Free Hugs” campaign took off, experts suggest. Hug therapy can break down barriers. A warm embrace or cuddle helps to dispel loneliness and fear and even improves health.

Free hugs campaign



Free Hugs Campaign:

MSNBC Today:

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