“Did the last four and a half hours mean nothing to you?”
— Charlotte of “Sex and the City,” shouting at a guy she just hooked up with.
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Unlike the executives at Enron, a woman’s orgasm never lies. It can tell a woman the truth about a sexual encounter, often whether she wants to know it or not. That’s because the female orgasm releases a burst of oxytocin, also known as the “cuddle hormone,” which facilitates a sense of attachment. But if there’s nothing to attach to, if there’s no deeper emotional content or meaningfulness, the orgasm becomes a regretful reminder of the hollowness of the sex that preceded it.
This is called “post-orgasm regret,” and it typically manifests itself in the form of sadness or anger. Ladies, if you’ve ever felt a pang of sorrow following a sexually gratifying (i.e., orgasmic) experience, it’s most likely post-orgasmic regret. (And what if you’re not having orgasms at all? Well then, you may be experiencing “post-faking regret” — regretting that you helped the jerk have his while you faked yours. But that’s a different article altogether.) Orgasm or not, be aware that sex results in your body inching toward some emotional connection, even as your brain may be saying “What the hell I am doing in bed with this guy?” So trust your orgasm.
Men also experience their own version of post-orgasmic regret, but in a different way — not as a sense of anger or sadness, but as a desire to get up and go. From an evolutionary perspective, men are wired to “spread their seed,” but they also know that not every woman they spread their seed with is necessarily one that they would like to hang out and mate with. Just because he spreads some seed doesn’t mean he’s interested in planting any roots.
So a woman can learn a lot about a guy in the minutes following his orgasm — is he a “cuddler,” a “snorer” or an “up-and-outer”?
The cuddler is a rare breed; generally guys do most of their cuddling in the early days of courtship and infatuation, when he’s made a decision that you’re the one. But sometimes a guy can also be a “faux-cuddler” when you’re first getting intimate with each other, so cuddle with caution.
But even if your cuddler is a keeper, he’s likely to turn into a “snorer.” Most of us guys end up becoming snorers, even if we don’t actually snore, but simply turn over and fall asleep. (It’s hard to fight biology.) Post-orgasm, prolactin levels spike, which contributes to a sense of sleepiness. Also, men have to work hard to produce the “explosive orgasm,” aka ejaculation, in order to potentially inseminate a woman (even if that’s not the intention). Hence, guys are often exhausted, dazed and depleted post-sex and require a refractory period (an interval of time) before they can get another erection. If your guy is a snorer, or just gives you the turn-over, cut him some slack, but also go ahead and give him a tap on the shoulder and remind him of the snuggler he used to be.
What can be said about the “up-and-outer,” the guy who, right after sex, suddenly has to organize his DVDs or go pick up his dry-cleaning?
As the proverb goes, fool me, once shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. If he’s up and out, think long and hard before letting him back in.
Ian Kerner is a sex therapist, relationship counselor and New York Times best-selling author of numerous books, including “She Comes First” and the soon-to-be-published “Love in the Time of Colic: The New Parents’ Guide to Getting It On Again.” He was born and raised in New York City, where he lives with his wife and two sons. He can be reached at www.IanKerner.com
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