There’s no shortage of advice on what to do before sex: chat-up techniques, dating tips and hacks for keeping your relationship ticking over. But what about when it comes to what to do after sex?
Sex is all about the thrill, the anticipation, the buildup and then finally getting down to business. Or it can be spontaneous, coming out of nowhere – literally, in some cases – and being taken by surprise. But once you’re done, then what? Very few sex manuals bother to tell you what to do once you’ve done the deed. Now the earth has stopped moving and your vision is returning to normal, here’s what to do next.
What better time to talk about sex than when you’ve just done it? “How was it for you?” is an underrated question: tell them what you especially liked, what you’re looking forward to trying again next time. Best not to focus on negatives or badger them for praise. “Did you come? But did you, though? Did you? Are you sure?” is never going to elicit the answer you want. If you have doubts about how it went, approach them gently and be clear you’re only asking because you want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to give them a good time. If you don’t trust yourself not to sound like a one-star review on TripAdvisor, keep it to yourself.
- Go to sleep
For some reason, falling asleep right after sex is seen as the height of rudeness, like burping in a restaurant or yawning while someone is telling you their problems. But you can blame basic biology for this one. According to tireless research by scientists desperate for 40 winks after nutting, it could be down to a release of hormones that make you drowsy – prolactin, which tries to coax you into REM sleep, and oxytocin (more on that one later) are thought to be the main culprits. Who are you to resist your body’s natural urges? Well, my advice would be to invest in matchsticks or perhaps a can of Monster by the bed, because the only thing less chivalrous than falling asleep before your partner is coming before they do.
Remember oxytocin, which I mentioned mere moments ago? It’s also known as the “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone” as it’s released when people snuggle up together and helps you bond. It works in social situations too, helping you feel affection for people you spend time with. Cuddling up forges intimacy and can help you associate positive feelings with a person or a situation. And it can help them nod off quicker, which gives you more time to check your Twitter or google “how to get someone the hell off me without waking them” while their hair tickles your nose and you try desperately not to sneeze.
- Couple selfie!
You think I’m joking? A post-coital selfie? Who would do such a thing? Did you just hop off a spaceship? Everyone does. Just search #aftersex on Instagram (an empty stomach is advised). Why should you do this? Well, social media clout can be an aphrodisiac, I guess, and perhaps anyone wanting to see that post-sex face in the flesh might drop you a sneaky DM? Why shouldn’t you do it? Your boss follows you and isn’t that their partner right next to you?
- Work out
Heading to the gym after sex might seem like a crazy idea – I suppose it depends how long you’ve been at it – but sex releases endorphins, which make you feel like you can take on the world, and a boost of testosterone can help with muscle building. That said, don’t just grab your lycra and bolt – have a breather and explain, gently, to your partner that, yes, it was fantastic, but you’re off to do some biceps curls and please, please, please be there when you get back.
- Get clean
So you’re lying there, in the afterglow, scents mingling, hearts and minds connected, and isn’t it tremendous? But also, isn’t it a bit sticky? A bit funky? In the heat of the moment, you didn’t even get time to spritz a bit of eau de parfum down your pants. Might a shower be in order? For both of you, I mean. Or a bath, maybe? Don’t look upon it as sluicing away the passion; think of it as a sensual add-on. Lathering each other up, intense eye contact as you soap between their toes. Best case scenario: you end up so excited by the slippery, soapy fondling that you go for round two. Worst case: you slip back under the sheets as clean as angels only to realise you have to change the bed because it’s now basically your sex sewer. Plus, giving yourself a bit of a post-coital clean-up can help prevent UTIs. Oh, and make sure you give a good scrub to any sex toys you’ve used too – safety first!
- Round two
Do you think you’ve got it in you? Would you like it in you? No pressure, but if you both feel like there’s unfinished business, how about a sequel?
There’s something about the post-climax lull when, for a few minutes, it feels like anything is possible. There are no rules, no limits, you can say anything. Sometimes this means we lose our heads a little and go too far – now is not the time to propose, for instance – but it’s the perfect arena for blue sky thinking, your hopes and dreams, aspirations. This is, according to some research, a great time to ask for favours or getting your partner to agree to something. Keep it light and attainable. I’m talking more “Shall we convert the loft?” or “Thailand or South America for next year’s holiday?” than confessing you’ve always dreamed of having a No1 single or having a go at breaking the record for most cheese platters eaten in an hour.
- Find your own space
There’s scientific evidence – very likely discovered by male scientists trying to get out of cuddles again, the savages – that says it’s not uncommon to feel a temporary loss of attraction for your partner straight after sex. Chalk this one up to biology again – prolactin is doing its best to get you into restorative sleep. This apparently helps the body realign itself and get back to a normal state – which is a very long-winded and “science from the back of a shampoo bottle” way of saying it’s normal to want to wander off and get cracking on a boxset before the Kleenex has even hit the bottom of the wastepaper basket. “It’s scientific!” you can shout, at the back of their head, as they leave your life for ever.