Some sex research has a tendency to state the obvious. None of these studies did. We rounded up the surprising (#10), the fascinating (#3), and the plain weird (#9) to bring you the best sex and relationship stories of 2012. (What better things do you have to do on New Year’s Day? Once your hangover is gone, that is.)
1. A couple that cuddles together stays together.
Tough guys, listen up: A new study from the Kinsey Institute found that men value cuddling more than women do. In fact, the researchers say that the notion that women like to cuddle more than guys is just a stereotype—and that men may have a greater need for nonsexual contact in the long tern. Still, feel free to sidle up to her. Snuggling was related to sexual satisfaction.
2. Don’t cheat, ever.
Cheating on a woman not only fractures your relationship with her—it can also fracture your penis. A new study in the journal Sexual Medicine found that men who have extramarital affairs are more likely to suffer penis fractures than guys who don’t stray. (Normally, broken penises wouldn’t rank this high on our list of the best research of last year, but this study is definitely an exception.) The reason? A lot of these same men end up having affairs in weird locations, like cars, elevators, and bathroom stalls. And if you’re having sex in a physically awkward location, you’re more likely to crush yourself.
3. Deep voices turn women on.
There could be another reason why Barry White was such a ladies man: He had a legendary baritone. And according to a new study in the journal Memory & Cognition, women prefer listening to men with deep voices, compared to their more highly-pitched counterparts. The reason could be evolutionary, say the scientists, who note that deep voices indicate genetic superiority in males. The good news? You can fake it. The bad news? You might also sound like a creep.
4. Choose a wider variety of porn.
No one wants to watch the same movie over and over again—even if that “movie” happens to be porn. That’s because watching the same erotic film repeatedly can blunt women’s arousal. In a new Dutch study, women who viewed 18 similar clips experienced a dip in vaginal responses; men’s arousal, on the other hand, remained constant. Later, while watching new content, both sexes’ arousal spiked. The takeaway: Novelty helps excite her—choose your films accordingly.
5. Or, on second though, maybe you should just cut back on the porn…
If you prefer the ladies online to the ones in real-life, you could be setting yourself up for future libido problems. A new report on an Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine survey found that men who started watching porn in their mid-teens—and still continue to watch it daily—tend to have more trouble getting an erection. The Internet allows for immediate access to porn, which wires the brain for constant visual stimuli, say the scientists. New or novel porn jacks up the release of dopamine but can eventually leads to an inability to masturbate without it, he says.
6. It’s not always your fault that she’s faking her orgasms.
If you suspect that your girlfriend is faking it, she might have suspicious of her own: Women who think their partner is going to cheat on them are more likely to fake an orgasm than ladies who feel secure in their relationship, reports a recent study in Archives and Sexual Behavior. But she doesn’t just put on a show to keep you from bolting. Research points to a few more reasons why she imitates the “big O.”
Read the full story: The Strange Reason Why She’s Faking It
7. Don’t reach for the condom right away.
Using protection doesn’t have to kill the mood—just wait until the end of a foreplay session before you put it on. Men who initiate condom use too early—especially without asking her first—seem to presume sex and may come off like they’re overly afraid of contracting an STD, say the researchers. Your best move is to wait for her to initiate it, but if she’s not budging just say, “I want you so bad. Do you mind if we grab a condom?”
8. Everyone needs a good rebound.
Yep, you read that right. And here’s why: Being in a long-term relationship changes your concept of your identity, according to a study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Over time, your friends, possessions, and even goals become less about “you” and more about “us.” And so much of that post-breakup anguish is actually about the fracture of a person’s identity. Hence, the rebound. Developing a new relationship could help fill that hole—but the best way to go about doing it is to find someone who shares an interest that you’re also passionate about. You can start rebuilding your identity from there.
9. Your hand size is linked to your penis size.
We dare you to not look at your hand after reading this: Guys with shorter index fingers than ring fingers tend to have bigger penises than guys with the opposite digit scenario, finds a new study in the Asian Journal of Andrology. The connection: The testosterone men get exposed to while they’re still fetuses controls both penis and finger length, the researchers explain.
10. Pillow talk should come before sex—not after.
Before you get to the foreplay, leave a little room for the sweet nothings. When researchers surveyed women about their post-coital activities, women rated intimate talk as “significantly more important” before sex than after. She may want to talk to you before sex to access your level of commitment, say the researchers. Note: That doesn’t give you an excuse to just roll over afterwards. And no scientist should have to tell you that.