People often talk about how important the moments are that lead up to sex. But what about afterwards? If sex is the main event then what happens after doesn’t really make any difference, right? Maybe, maybe not. We believe the time a couple spends together after sex is an important part of a healthy sexual relationship. Strong relationships are built on respect, love and good communication. A lack of communication in this area of your life can cause more trouble than you may think or be aware of.
Let’s begin the discussion by evaluating what your current post-sex routine is. Are you most likely to: lay in each others arms? Take a shower? Get up and continue with whatever, immediately? etc… And then there is the issue of how you handle “clean up”? What happens when one person wants one thing post-coitus and the other person wants something else? Does time of day, emotional or physical exhaustion, or time constraints affect how you spend your time after sex? There are no “rules” about what to do after sex but having open and honest dialogue about what you want and why you may want it is essential to making it work for both you and your spouse.
Understanding how hormones work in your body is important to understanding why you or your spouse might want something different after the act. After orgasm the body releases the hormones of oxytocin, prolactin and endorphins. The levels released and their effects on the body differ from person to person and differ after each sexual experience. Some will experience feelings of contentment, bonding and yes even sleepiness may overwhelm their senses. Each party needs to understand that falling asleep does not necessarily indicate lack of interest but rather true satisfaction. A partner who does not experience orgasm may be left feeling unsatisfied and may be reaching for more through continued need for physical touch and close proximity. Arousal that is not resolved can cause tension for a partner who did not experience orgasm and they may desire to fulfill their needs through continued physical touch and closeness.
Post sex kissing, hugging and talking is what psychologists call “pair bonding”. Professing your love for your spouse and other intimate behaviors seem appropriate to build further depth in your relationship. But what about the times when you or your spouse just want to resume normal activity? Some people may not care very much for the cuddling and pillow talk. This could be in part due to hormones as well as personality driven. While the release of oxytocin (also called the “bonding chemical”) draws out feeling of contentment and closeness the release of prolactin causes a decrease in arousal possibly causing a sense of being “over” the need for sex or physical touch. It is also possible that a person who has a low need for physical touch may have all their physical needs met through the act of sex itself. While this is not an excuse to never cuddle or touch outside of sex, it may help explain it.
So, what does all of this mean? You and your spouse should take time to talk about what you want/need after having spent time together and then fulfill those needs. If one really needs additional talk/touch time, do everything in your power to provide that for them. If one really needs to rest in the fact that they’re over-the-top-satisfied, allow them that moment of rest. And if you’re both feeling completely satisfied but aren’t yet ready for sleep, we’re pretty sure there’s a re-run of Law & Order on somewhere. It may not be as invigorating as sex, but it may be just what you need to wind down a bit.
How have you and your mate worked together to ensure that what you do “After The Act” benefits your relationship?