Personal question, I know, but we’re all friends here. Do you like to run around the room for a victory lap, as comedian Billy Connolly has often done? Perhaps you like to cuddle in the afterglow. Or perhaps you just want them to get the fuck out of your house before they ask you something awkward, like your name.
Healthy sexual expression is an important part of our wellbeing. OutlineNZ made it one of the platforms of their Flourish campaign last year, saying:
“Our sexuality affects our lives, attitudes, and beliefs. It is a fundamental part of our being to be explored, respected, embraced, honoured, and believed.”
We’ve all had sexual encounters in our lives that have left us feeling quite the opposite of those adjectives above. And sometimes it’s nothing to do with the quality of the act itself, but how we’re treated afterwards.
In the emerging field of post-coital sex research (yes, there are people actually working on this), a consensus is emerging that “the time spent together after sex is an important part of healthy sexual relationships.”
The research cited here has only been performed on heterosexual couples, whom we all know are at the centre of the known universe, but it does bust some long-held myths. Men are just as likely to fall asleep after sex as women, for example.
“Mate retention…may be another factor influencing relative sleep onset. For example, men may keep themselves awake after having had sex as a way of bonding with their mate, behaving in a way that is consistent with the mate’s preferences.”
In investigating other post-shagging behaviours, researchers Kruger and Hughes (again only studying heterosexual couples) found differences between the sexes:
“Males were more likely to initiate kissing before sex, and females after sex. Intimate talk and kissing were rated by both sexes as more important before intercourse with a long-term partner, whereas cuddling and professing one’s love was rated more important after sex.
“In a second set of more specific post-coital behaviors, females were more likely to engage in post-coital behaviors related to bonding with both short- and long-term partners, whereas males were more likely to engage in ones that were extrinsically rewarding or increased the likelihood of further coital acts.”
Extrinsically rewarding can be broken down into layman’s terms as doing things like eating, getting a drink, smoking, or asking for favours.
So what does all this mean for gay men? Anecdotally, I guess it depends on the context. If it’s a mate you’re having sex with, you may very well want to get up and have a pizza together. If it’s someone to whom you’re more attached, you might want to cuddle for a bit.
I guess the problems occur when one of you wants something different, and the potential offence or misunderstanding that might be caused to the other partner.
Men and women have been taught for several decades now through the likes of self-styled relationship gurus like John Gray that they should understand that they come from different planets in order to not be upset by how wildly different each might respond in various intimate situations.
I’d say as human beings we are all different, and your expectations about a sexual encounter can hold great sway on how you might feel afterwards.
Just because you want to talk, cuddle or have a beer after sex doesn’t mean you want to marry the guy, it’s just an extension of the natural human desire to connect with others – but not all men think this way.
If you’re likely to be hurt by the sound of the door slamming before you’ve even finished wiping up, then it’s probably a good idea to communicate beforehand to work out what kind of guy you’re planning to spend quality naked time with.