New Study Finds that Pillow Talk Increases Relationship Satisfaction for Men
A new article by Amanda Denes, John P. Crowley, Kara L. Winkler, Anuraj Dhillon, Ambyre L. P. Ponivas, and Margaret Bennett was recently published in the National Communication Association’s Communication Monographs journal. The authors’ study found that increased post-sex pillow talk (which involves communicating with one’s partner immediately after sexual activity) can increase heterosexual men’s relationship satisfaction.
While previous studies have shown that there is a relationship between pillow talk and relationship satisfaction, those studies did not show whether more pillow talk made people more satisfied, or whether those with more satisfying relationships were more likely to engage in pillow talk.
This study is notable because it shows that the simple act of increasing the number of minutes couples spend engaging in post-sex pillow talk can result in increased relationship satisfaction. Specifically, the study found that men who doubled the amount of time they spent engaging in pillow talk after sexual activity for several weeks were more likely to report increased relationship satisfaction than men who kept their pillow talk levels the same.
Although increased pillow talk was shown to have this positive effect on men, it did not affect women’s relationship satisfaction. The authors suggest that traditional gender roles may be the cause for this discrepancy. According to the authors, because traditional gender roles encourage women to prioritize communication in a relationship, putting more effort into communication “may not have been particularly novel or meaningful.” Similarly, the study suggests that some women may have seen increased pillow talk as “emotional labor” that required them to manage their relationship in yet another way.
Conversely, men may have experienced positive effects because traditional gender roles do not encourage men to prioritize communication in a relationship. Because the study asked participants to increase their pillow talk, men may have given themselves “‘permission’ to express themselves.” By granting themselves this permission, men may have been able to express emotions that they might normally feel they had to withhold, thereby increasing their own relationship satisfaction.
The authors suggest that therapists and other health and relationship practitioners could encourage their clients to engage in increased pillow talk as a way to increase relationship satisfaction. This could help couples develop deeper intimacy, strengthen their relationships, and be better prepared to confront future challenges together.
Read the full article in Communication Monographs here.
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