Here’s What He’s Really Thinking after Sex

New science reveals that men and women aren't so different after all.

Here’s What He’s Really Thinking after Sex
Here’s What He’s Really Thinking after Sex

New science reveals that men and women aren't so different after all.

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In When Harry Met Sally, there’s a great scene in which Harry bluntly tells Sally that, following a one-night stand, every man thinks to himself, “How long do I have to lie here and hold her before I can get up and go home?” Sally is understandably aghast at this peek into the male mind, and ever since then, women like Sally have thought to themselves, “Is that really what men think?”

Well, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that every woman who’s ever been on a crummy Tinder date knows that some men really do think like that, and the superhuman speed at which these guys can put their pants back on after doing the deed is nothing short of acrobatic. But the good news is that, despite what Harry said, not all men think like that.

One of the most common things that came up in a recent Reddit thread on what men wish women knew was the fact that not only do some men actively enjoy cuddling, they even want to be the little spoon sometimes. And now, a new study in Sex & Marital Therapy has added to an increasing body of research that suggests men and women are not as different as ’90s rom-coms may have had you think.

For a long time, it was believed that only women experience Postcoital Dysphoria (PCD)—that feeling of sadness or irritability that some people have immediately following intercourse. The assumption was that since, from an evolutionary perspective, women are hardwired to attract and keep a mate, whereas men are hardwired to spread their seed, only women would feel emotional after sex, while men either descended into a peaceful slumber (or merrily went on their way).

But researchers at the Queensland University of Technology asked 1,208 men from Australia, the U.S., the U.K., Russia, New Zealand, Germany, and elsewhere to complete an anonymous online survey in which they answered questions about PCD, and found that 40 percent of them said they had experienced it in their lifetime—and 20 percent had experienced it in just the previous four weeks. Up to four percent even said that they experienced these feelings on a regular basis.

One man said that, following intercourse, “I don’t want to be touched and want to be left alone.” Another one said, “I feel unsatisfied, annoyed, and very fidgety. All I really want is to leave and distract myself from everything I participated in.” Others simply commented that they felt “emotionless and empty.”

All of this sounds pretty depressing, but here’s the silver lining. According to a smaller 2015 study, 46 percent of women said they’ve experienced PCD in their lifetime. And a 2011 study found that about a third of women have experienced “post-sex blues” even after good sex. Which means that the gap between the sexes is not as wide as we might have previously imagined, and the idea that women are the only ones who feel emotional after going to bed with someone is kind of a sexist myth.

According to Joel Maczkowiack, a masters student at the Queensland University of Technology and one of the authors of the study, this finding can also be helpful in marriage counseling.

“It has, for example, been established that couples who engage in talking, kissing, and cuddling following sexual activity report greater sexual and relationship satisfaction, demonstrating that the resolution phase is important for bonding and intimacy. “So the negative affective state which defines PCD has potential to cause distress to the individual, as well as the partner, disrupt important relationship processes, and contribute to distress and conflict within the relationship, and impact upon sexual and relationship functioning.”

The study is also important because there’s been a lot of research lately that focuses on how acting as though men don’t have feelings is not only inaccurate but also a harmful societal stereotype. “These assumptions are pervasive within masculine sub-culture and include that males always desire and experience sex as pleasurable. The experience of PCD contradicts these dominant cultural assumptions about the male experience, sexual activity, and of the resolution phase,” Professor Robert Schweitzer, another one of the study’s authors, said.

For more insight into how we get it on, be sure to read up on the New Science That Proves Men with This Have Better Sex Lives.

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