“Uh-oh!” isn’t the “ohhhh” anybody wants to be making when it comes to sex. Yet many people feel such an exclamation echo from their soul following a supposedly erotic moment. Such post-sex regret is induced by questions like: What was that? What have I just done? Where was my orgasm? What about my satisfaction?
Whether riddled with guilt for wanton wrongdoing or regretting a rendezvous’ emotional disconnect, the sorrow that sets in after sex can leave one depressed instead of desiring more. But instead of shaking off such reactions, we need to listen to them. What are these feelings of sorrow trying to tell us about our sex lives? And are there ways to counter them for sex that’s worth having?
Humans experience all sorts of sexual regrets. One of the most widely known is the “morning after” regret, captured more dramatically as the “Coyote Syndrome.”
Like the coyote willing to chew off its own leg when caught in a trap, people have a very similar reaction when they wake up, arms wrapped around someone who was much hotter after a few drinks. Suddenly feeling sorry for what happened the night before, they can’t wait to escape.
Other sexual regrets include the “Monday morning” regret, where you have to face up to co-workers who witnessed your morning-after regret in the works. Sexual regrets can also arise from compromising your sexual and emotional needs, sleeping with somebody who is using you, or not realizing the orgasmic reactions you were hoping for.
Any of these situations can lead to the anger or sadness that reverberates as a sense of “hollowness” after sex. In “Be Honest – You’re Not that Into Him Either,” Ian Kerner explains this reaction as primarily female and one attributable to the release of oxytocin that comes with female orgasm.
If oxytocin, the cuddle hormone that promotes a sense of attachment, has no emotional connection to attach to, the body feels empty. Sad, sorrowful and/or angry, she regrets sex despite the physical gratification of climax.
For those who didn’t experience orgasm, but who faked, Kerner credits the post-sex sorrow to “post-faking regret.” This is especially common among those who helped their partners reach orgasm.
Men, on the other hand, experience post-orgasmic regret in terms of not wanting to commit to their sexual partners. They are ready to fly the coop and look for someone more suitable with whom to spread their seed and be with for the long-haul.
Of course, gender differences when it comes to sexual reactions and regrets should never be viewed as so cut and dried. A number of men have faked being sexually gratified and felt guilty for it. Plenty of women have wanted a lover for nothing more than sex and then thought twice of it.
No matter what your situation, the experience of post-sex regret provides you with the opportunity to take action – as in strive for a better sex life! Your heart, mind and soul are trying to tell you something, so listen! Ways to combat post-sex regrets include:
Seek meaningful sexual relationships. If you need sex with deep meaning – sex that doesn’t feel hollow – then avoid getting yourself into situations that involve somebody doing the walk of shame. It’s that simple.
Understand your limits. Some men and women can have sex for purely physical reasons. You may not be one of them. Unfortunately or not, some may feel the need to test their limits on this one, but once you know yourself in this sense, don’t push yourself. If you need to feel emotionally connected during sex, don’t settle for anything less.
Don’t fake orgasm. Let your partner know what gets you going, giving a show-and-tell if need be. If you didn’t climax during sex, approach your partner at a later date with a game plan on how to get there. Arm yourselves with knowledge, books chock full of ideas, sexual enhancement products ... anything you need to invite greater sexual response.
Cuddle. Snuggling post-sex can do wonders for both him and her. Contrary to popular belief, plenty of men love to cuddle. Some desire it more than women, in part because men also release oxytocin in sexually peaking. So their bodies are also encouraging some bonding during and post-sex with this hormonal high.
Understand his need to sleep. In many ways, men can’t help but feel sleepy after sex. He’s just had one heck of a workout, which can be an exhausting, tension-relieving experience. This is especially true in post-orgasm situations since his prolactin levels are high. Don’t take these reactions personally, especially in how they can impact your overall sexual satisfaction. He needs to rejuvenate both body and mind during this final phase of his sexual response cycle, known as the refractory period.
Engage in afterplay. Instead of hitting the shower or checking your e-mail, relish this time to relax in each other’s arms. Allow your energies to merge even more with affectionate touches and pillow talk. Use this time post-sex to exchange intimate thoughts, including what you liked about the sex you just had, for example,“That was so great when you...”
Mention how close you feel with every sexual experience. Reminisce about significant firsts you’ve shared, e.g., kiss, and what you adore about one another. Give a simple massage, e.g., to your lover’s hands or feet.
Seek to maintain the moment, doing things like playing sensual music. After all, who knows? Both of you may be up for some post-sex action, as in a second round, sooner or later.
Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."