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How Routine Affection Can Lead to More and Better Sex

Three tips to turn on your partner during your daily routine.

Key points

  • Research has found connections among physical affection, relationship satisfaction, and the quality and frequency of sexual activity.
  • By being more affectionate with your partner in various ways, you can also improve your sexual and emotional connection with each other.
  • Better sex and increased relationship satisfaction can motivate more physical affection.

In previous posts, I explored the various reasons people are motivated to have sex, as well as how to share those motivations with a new partner to create the best first sexual encounter. Elsewhere, I also discussed how an affectionate touch can make a partner find you more attractive and how touch can make a partner more agreeable to your requests. Putting those effects together, I wondered whether routinely touching a partner in an affectionate way might make them more motivated toward having sex in general too.As usual, I went hunting in the social science literature to find out.

Research on Routine Affection and Sex

To start, I found an article by Debrot, Meuwly, Muise, Impett, and Schoebi (2017) exploring how physical affection mediates the association between sexual activity and well-being. Physical affection was defined as how frequently partners held hands, sat or laid down close together, gave neck or back massages, hugged, and kissed. Across four studies, the team found associations among affectionately touching a partner, sexual frequency with that partner, and satisfaction.

In the final study, Debrot and associates (2017) asked couples to report about their sexual activity and physically affectionate moments four times a day. With that design, the researchers were more able to evacuate which behavior might be more likely to lead to the other. Overall, results suggested the likelihood of a positive feedback loop between sex and affection. On one hand, being affectionate with a partner increased the likelihood of later having sex with that partner. On the other hand, having sex with a partner also increased the likelihood of them being physically affectionate afterward too.

Along similar lines, later research by Busby, Hanna-Walker, and Leavitt (2020) looked at the frequency of kissing among couples and its association with various sexual outcomes. Results indicated that more frequent kissing between partners was associated with more arousal, higher likelihood of orgasm, and greater satisfaction when the couple had sex. Thus, partners who kissed more were also more likely to generally be satisfied with their sex life and their relationship with each other.

Inspiring More and Better Sex

Given the above results, we can see that there are connections among routine affection, sex, and relationship satisfaction. On one hand, that means partners who are more satisfied are also more motivated to be affectionate with each other and have better sex. On the other hand, it means that couples who make the effort to be physically affectionate with each other can actually build a more satisfying emotional connection with each other and create more frequent and satisfying sexual experiences together too. Therefore, by working to be more physically affectionate in your relationship, you can actually make your sex life and overall relationship better. In turn, those good feelings will motivate more affection—leading to a positive cycle of affection, good sex, and relationship satisfaction all around. With that said though, how do you start that positive cycle and turn a partner on with physical affection? Below are three suggestions:

1. Getting close to each other. Put simply, if you are far away from your partner, then you cannot touch or kiss them. Therefore, the first step in creating affectionate interactions is to get physically closer. Besides, simply being physically close to each other increases feelings of intimacy and affection. So, look for ways to get close and make a move. Particularly, find reasons to get within an intimate distance (1.5 feet away or closer). For example, stand shoulder-to-shoulder, while doing an activity together. Sit side-by-side when possible. Cozy up next to a partner on the couch. In any case, the more you can make physical closeness a routine part of your relationship together, the easier it will be to inspire greater physical and sexual intimacy when the time is right too.

2. Having the right touch. As the research suggests, inspiring physical and sexual intimacy with a partner is largely about how you touch each other. Furthermore, this touching starts way before what we might consider as foreplay. Specifically, affectionate touching that leads to satisfying sex begins with holding hands, hugging, sitting, or laying down close together, and giving neck or back massages. Furthermore, this type of touching is considered intimate as well. Therefore, after getting close with your partner, cuddle them to build more attraction. Throw your arm around them. Brush the hair away from their face. Hold a hug closer and for a longer period of time. Then, when the moment is right, kiss.

3. Connecting with a kiss. As the research above also suggests, affectionate kissing can increase sexual motivation and satisfaction too. Therefore, once you are touching intimately, remember to follow the tips for good kissing as well. Essentially, these are kisses to bond and connect with a partner, rather than to be sensual (at least, to start). Therefore, they can be lengthy and include a cuddly make-out session, but can be equally persuasive when they are short-but-loving kisses too. In either case, it is literally the effort that counts, because this is about building a routine and affectionate connection.

By establishing greater affection and intimacy in those three ways, you will increase the likelihood of more and better sexual interactions with your partner too. From there, it will be simply about increasing the intensity of touching and kissing, when you want to lead into foreplay and sexual interaction itself. Then, the only thing left will be to ensure that the actual sexual experience is rewarding for both partners.

© 2021 by Jeremy S. Nicholson, M.A., M.S.W., Ph.D. All rights reserved.


Busby, D. M., Hanna-Walker, V., & Leavitt, C. E. (2020). A kiss is not just a kiss: Kissing frequency, sexual quality, attachment, and sexual and relationship satisfaction. Sexual and Relationship Therapy. Advance online publication.

Debrot, A., Meuwly, N., Muise, A., Impett, E. A., & Schoebi, D. (2017). More than just sex: Affection mediates the association between sexual activity and well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 43(3), 287–299.

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GGG stands for "good, giving, and game." Think "good in bed," "giving of equal time and equal pleasure," and "game for anything—within reason."