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 Thursday, 7 June, 2001, 00:26 GMT 01:26 UK
Cuddles 'more important than sex'
The TV show 'Sex and the City' is said to show an unrealistic view of women's sex lives
TV's Sex and the City: An unrealistic view of women's lives?
Cuddles, affection and hugs are more important than sex, say many women in long term relationships.

A survey suggests the "Sex and the City" image of promiscuous women jumping from bed to bed does not reflect real life, with the average woman having eight partners before settling down at the age of 27.

Website reddirect.co.uk found a quarter of more than 3,000 women aged 18-45 said they "often can't be bothered" to have sex.

And just over a quarter say they were "happy with a cuddle".

Sex isn't the be all and end all of a relationship

Sarah Stone,
reddirect.co.uk
The average woman in a long-term relationship is likely to have sex once or twice a week, showed the survey.

But despite the preference for a cuddle, 55% of women said they would like to have more sex.

However 62% said they were often "too worn out from work".

Still, if they have to choose between sex and shopping, more than half would choose sex.

Sarah Stone, editor of reddirect.co.uk told BBC News Online the survey had confirmed what they had heard anecdotally.

"Certainly sex isn't the be all and end all of a relationship," she said.

Romance

Sarah Stone said: "Despite a seemingly constant TV diet of sex and affairs, this definitive survey shows the average woman in a long term relationship in the UK today wants to protect and nurture her relationship, not throw it away.

"Shows such as Sex and the City depict women jumping in and out of bed with a string of sexy men, but it's simply not true."

Women prefer hugs to sex in long-term relationships, said the survey
Love and affection: 3,000 women were quizzed
She added: "Like men, they might want to sow a few wild oats while they're still young, but by their mid to late 20s they're ready to settle down with a partner for life.

"Ultimately, a loving long-term relationship is a bit like a comfy pair of shoes - most women love the feeling of slipping into them after years of hot high-heeled stilettos."

Half of the women surveyed wanted their men to be more romantic and just under three-quarters of women tried to spice up their relationships with romantic dinners and weekends away.

And seven years into their relationships, a massive 80% still found their partner attractive.

Why couples argue

Unfaithfulness would not be tolerated by the majority of women, with eight out of 10 saying they would dump their partners if they had an affair.

But things are different if its the women's eyes which stray.

Seventeen per cent having an affair, and 60% say it would be best not to confess to infidelity if they wanted to stay in the relationship.

Questioned about the most common causes for rows, women said the top five were money (28%), housework (27%), "the hours he works" (15%), "his snoring" (12%) and "his drinking" (10%).

Julia Cole, couple counsellor and psycho-sexual therapist for Relate, said: "Women aren't saying they don't want sex - they want sex as well.

"But actually what's important to them is that their partner is capable of expressing love and affection in ways other than sex.

She said some couples came to her worried they were not having sex, but added: "I would be much more worried if a couple came to me and said they were cold and unaffectionate to each other."

See also:

25 Apr 01 | Science/Nature
25 Sep 98 | Science/Nature
21 Aug 99 | UK
09 Mar 01 | Education
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