Hello again, dear friend Anonymous. Welcome back to our sex talk column where readers submit questions, then we do our research and craft a story to answer as many questions as we can. The topic of our latest submission: why won’t he cuddle with me after sex? Number one: how dare you? Number two: srsly, why tho? We tapped Tamarin Oblowitz, M.A. Clinical Psych, spiritual and holistic therapist, and founder of EmpowHER Healing, to broach this sensitive topic.
[Editor’s note: Although this article uses male pronouns, the advice applies to all sexual orientations and gender identities.]
After doing the deed and getting sweaty under the sheets, many of us want post-coitus cuddling … Aka, we want to cuddle after sex with the person we are dating, or our partner.
You may find that your partner or the person you’re hooking up with isn’t particularly into the idea of a post-sex cuddle. Rather than feeling rejected, consider some reasons why this may be:
After the high of sex, some people experience a downer. During sex and directly after orgasm, we produce the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that is not only associated with sex but also emitted when tasting delicious food and having a highly enjoyable experience. After we have had pleasurable sex the level of dopamine drops, which causes many people to feel a downer and therefore withdraw from an intimate moment, such as cuddling. You may find you crave physical affection when feeling down, but some people simply may not. They may be drawn to seek another dopamine high by going straight to the kitchen to eat, or they may request space and want to be alone. Irrespective of what your sexual partner does/doesn’t do, it is never personal, and it could be the result of a physiological change.
Life is demanding nowadays, and even though sex can be highly pleasurable, it’s also exhausting. Once we climax and orgasm, it can often activate a strong desire to snooze. Your partner may be exhausted, having had an intense day at work or an intense day of life in general. Pre- and post-sex exhaustion is a recipe for over-exhaustion. Now you’ve got yourself one very tired partner who only has sleep on their mind, and cuddling is their last priority.
Rain, hail, or shine, sex can be sweaty! Some people dislike being or feeling sweaty and want to hop straight into the shower to wash and cool off. This is a personal preference. Their need to shower and feel comfortable may trump their need to cuddle.
Sex is an act of primal pleasure. It feeds us and nourishes us sexually. It is also a vulnerable experience. But for many, cuddling after sex can feel even more vulnerable. Cuddling forms deep intimacy, especially after sex. For those who are fearful of being fully vulnerable, cuddling post-coitus can feel confronting and frightening. Cuddling after sex is a time where we release the need to be seen or perceived a certain way; it’s a time where we can release the need to protect ourselves or hide behind our sexual performance. This can prove to be intimidating and confronting for people who might feel the need to hide behind sexual performance or an emotional wall and have issues with being truly vulnerable.
Whether your sexual partner is avoiding cuddling due to physiological, mental/emotional reasons, or fears, openly communicate with them. Express to them your deep desire to cuddle after sex and what it means to you. Most importantly, get curious about their need for space or distaste for cuddling. Do not assume anything, and remember: it’s not about you!
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