Women After Sex

First there was mystery. Why do women want to cuddle and men want to hit the road (after sex), then there was brain scanning and evolutionary psychology, and the mystery was no more. According to a groundbreaking study from the Journal of Sex Research, it would seem that when it comes to post-coital behaviors, men and women could well belong to different planets.

The study begins by presenting the evolutionary perspective of sexual behaviors that we are all more or less familiar with — males have more reproductive power than females, hence, it is an instinctive thing for the preservation of the species that they should frequently seek multiple partners, instead of long-term relationships.

The study becomes much more interesting when scientists start asking men and women, including college girls and boys, who willingly enter into the short-term sexual relationship/one-night-stand arena on a regular basis, how they behave after sex.

According to the results, even girls who are having a one-night-stand want to cuddle and kiss and become anxious about what their male partner is thinking of them, or whether they still find them attractive. On the other hand, the interviewed men largely declared that they usually wanted to eat, urinate or sleep after sex.

Overall, our study demonstrated that post-coital behaviors related to pair-bonding after sex seem to be initiated and preferred by females far more so than by males, and this was the case for not only long-term, but also for short-term, mating.

Interestingly enough, men were found to initiate kissing primarily before sex, while it was mostly women who were responsible for it after sex. The conclusion seems to be that men would be using kissing as a road to sex, while women would be using it as a an emotional display with bonding purposes.

Even when these patterns are obviously not exclusive and genre differences are nowhere near clear-cut in this area, according to the study’s findings, women will bond, while men will satisfy their immediate sexual and non-sexual needs. It would seem that not all of women´s liberation can change what is written in our genetic codes.


Hughes SM, & Kruger DJ (2011). Sex differences in post-coital behaviors in long- and short-term mating: an evolutionary perspective. Journal of sex research, 48 (5), 496-505 PMID: 20799133

Campbell, A. (2008). The Morning after the Night Before Human Nature, 19 (2), 157-173 DOI: 10.1007/s12110-008-9036-2

HASELTONU, M., & BUSS, D. (2001). The affective shift hypothesis: The functions of emotional changes following sexual intercourse Personal Relationships, 8 (4), 357-369 DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2001.tb00045.x

Image via Liv friis-larsen / Shutterstock.

  • Richard Kensinger, MSW

    These genetic proclivities hold across time & cultures. Women are naturally more discriminating about procreation. Generally, they will produce 420 ova over their reproductive cycle. Young men, on the other hand can produce up to 500 M sperm in 1 ejaculation. In theory, this will allow us to impregnate every woman on the planet at one time!!

    And recreation is also a large part of sexual behavior. Just as in human bonded-pairs, there is considerable infidelity in each gender.

    Indeed, in so many ways, males & females are far apart. Yet the unique strengths & talents of each, lends itself to potent complimentary partnerships!


    • A. H. Capella

      A relative of mine who is actually in the medical field would disagree. A woman produced thousands upon thousands of eggs inside of her over her lifetime.
      Plus, I disagree with this article in general because simply, everyone is different. There are women that would hit the road after a one night stand because that is the logical thing to do. Contrary to popular belief, women can use logic (gasp!). Biology or what is supposedly out nature can not compel us to do anything. We have free will!

      • Barun

        Nice blog

  • Ira

    Odd. This is not what my experience has been like.

    I’ve had my share of (mostly outstanding) sex through one of the social sex networks in Germany. I was very clear with my partners (men) that I am not looking for a relationship or basically anything besides sex and initially they all agreed that it was not what they were after as well, however once we met up, they at first wanted to talk forever (and by that I mean roughly 3 hours) before having sex and after sex they not only wanted to cuddle, they also wanted to spend the night at my place or me to stay at theirs (that was one person, we had a bit of a regular sexual relationship). I will not exaggerate when I’ll say that I was shocked by that behavior, I was in it only for the sex and was not interested in long conversations, cuddling, breakfasts, brunches and so on. And all of that came from men I met through a *sex* website.

    It must be mentioned that I actually am much more into women than I am into men, so things would look slightly differently with a woman in my bed, nevertheless I felt like I was “the man”, emotionally, in those encounters. It was actually kind of pleasing, I didn’t really want to do much with those guys except enjoy our time between the sheets, but I got a kick out of them wanting more from me and me not wanting to reciprocate. Maybe that’s what a regular guy feels like, eh?

    • Interesting perspective, Ira.
      Thanks for sharing. It certainly opened my mind.

      • JACOB

        Hi Veronica

        It is interesting to read through your article on Women after sex.
        I read this for the first time today in the BrainBlogger. I liked your research.

        I teach Integrated Marketing Communication in Bangalore India. It is again a world of creativity. What fascinated me more was to know that you are also producing feature film and documentaries. I really like that field as I too am a social worker.

        Keep in touch!

        Jacob A
        Bangalore, India

    • Adam

      Ira, would you consider yourself the exception to the ‘rule’?

      (The rule being the general mode of this article)

      • A. H. Capella

        No Adam, because there is no rule. Everyone is different.
        It’s easier for men to accept this study as a rule, because they get the better end of the stick. However, this is one study.
        They could’ve studied 200 men and women, they could have studied 30. Can’t just accept this stuff at face value.
        Plenty of women can do the one night stand just fine. Just like plenty of men prefer relationships. Everyone is different, I don’t believe we really have to obey our instincts to be monogamous or promiscuous, I think we are more complex than that, and can do whatever we want.

        • Brutus

          He specified what he meant by “rule,” so, yes, there IS a “rule” in terms of what he’s asking. It was a valid question, however much you’d like to dismiss it for semantics.

    • DeepDiverDown

      It must be mentioned that I actually am much more into women than I am into men, so things would look slightly differently with a woman in my bed, nevertheless I felt like I was “the man”, emotionally, in those encounters. It was actually kind of pleasing, I didn’t really want to do much with those guys except enjoy our time between the sheets, but I got a kick out of them wanting more from me and me not wanting to reciprocate. Maybe that’s what a regular guy feels like, eh?

      This last part of Ira’s comment is very significant not only to the general topic but also in my opinion key to her experiences and views dealing with men from “sex clubs”. Yes, one would tend to assume men who are members of “sex clubs” or sex networking groups or whatever you want to call them would be guys simply looking for a hook-up and nothing more. Ira’s personal experience and view is that nothing could be further from the truth.
      First, for Ira to conclude her observations about her sexual escapades by saying she’s more into women than men (yet pursues men seemingly more than women?) basically says Ira is not a “typical” female. Furthermore I think Ira behaved in a sociopathic manner in her little (or big) sex club by telling men upfront she only wants sex and nothing else when in fact she not only wants something else, she has chosen that environment to get it. She is a sociopath. She doesn’t just not want attachments, she doesn’t want a man as her first choice. But what does she do? She goes after men. Then, despite finding these men wanting more, she continues to take advantage of this attention purely because it is not the norm. She feels empowered by men falling for her and she wants to milk it for all it’s worth. The men don’t matter. What’s happening here isn’t evolutionary biology or evolutionary psychology: it is simply multiple examples of the “under my thumb” syndrome. We want what we can’t have. Ira seems to be getting off but we don’t know how pleased the men are sexually. Whatever the case, they see she is detached, uninterested, and the more they cling the more she pulls back. This is human nature not sexual nature or evolutionary nature.
      And Ira, just to clue you in here because you wouldn’t know anything about what BEING a man is like, it isn’t really fun or recreation for us to feel a weird kind of detachment after a casual intimate experience. I would never characterize it as something “fun”. It’s NOT the “better end of the stick”. Frankly I find it to be a kind of sleazy-feeling guilty reaction I cannot explain as much as I wish I could. It isn’t that I may slip away because I’ve gotten what I’ve wanted, it is because I look in your eyes, see you want more of me, and don’t feel reciprocal. Rather than tell this to every single casual hook-up partner and face the anger, tears, insults, stalking, and other reactions to rejection we all feel at times like that, simply disappearing seems to be the most simple, albeit dishonest and tacky, way to handle things.
      Speaking for myself I don’t “lose interest” after orgasm, I lose interest as soon as it is clear I can have you however I want you. I don’t have great casual sex as a result and have actually avoided it since I was a teenager. I’ve been dating older women since I became sexually mature and have never cheated. I love the women I’ve dated, dated them for years, and really don’t feel complete unless I have a woman I love in my life. I’m more affectionate than just about every woman I’ve dated, usually taking them by surprise but certainlly not eliciting any complaints. I love to kiss, I love to touch, I love to please.
      I get no pleasure from “leaving my seed” and slinking off into the early morning. But more and more I see women acting more and more like men have traditionally acted. I guess women think if you can’t beat ’em join ’em. Well, have at it ladies; your walk of shame is blatant, we don’t respect you, and no matter how many guys you bang you don’t get membership in our club. I’m sure you do find it fun. After all, women still don’t seem to get it: as a guy you have to be something…funny, handsome, rich, powerful. A woman? She only needs to be THERE. Screwing tons of guys with the stipulation you want nothing more only makes you more and more shallow. I would say good luck finding a husband you can fully open up and talk to about the life you led before your marriage but I’m willing to bet you ARE married and simply cheating on him.
      Women far outnumber men in the cheating department. I guess they’ve been conditioned for so long that men have it “better” that they want to try too. You aren’t missing much by being an emotional zombie with the occasional social disease.
      All the best

  • Doug

    Here is my theory based on observation only. Sex is biologically and fundamentally about procreation. After sex, for women, the nurturing instinct kicks in immediately. Her concern is for the welfare of the baby. Is her mate going to stick around to take care of them? Can she make him want to? Maybe not but she can’t help trying.

    For the man, he’ll need to get on immediately with guarding the family and hunting down some food. Perhaps the purpose of the sleep he falls into after sex is to allow the woman to recognize his ultimate vulnerability thus generating a sense of hope for their future. He’ll need some rest before launching into father mode too. Essentially, it’s all about the new life they just created.

    I think I might be a hopeless romantic but that is besides the point.


    • Thank your for your interesting observations.
      There is surely a lot of what you mention at play here.

      I feel that talking about it, especially men talking about it can help
      deepen the connection and minimise the fundamental distance between
      our preferred post-coital behaviors.

      Thanks for reading,

  • Sophia

    I think the problem here is they asked the men rather than observed them.
    My man loves his cuddles. He says he thinks the whole idea men don’t like that is just macho lies by people too cowardly to admit how much they love a good cuddle.
    Seeing the bliss in his face as he cuddles me after an orgasm, I get the feeling he is either right, or a woman.

    • Well said, Sophia. You surely got a point (and a good man!)

    • mary

      u r a goood interpreter of psychological results!
      well done

  • Pingback: The science of (mostly) human sex | Limpid Lech's finds()

  • robert

    nice intresting facts u mentioned, thankyou, excellent work.

  • You say that this hypothesis does not apply to all couples

  • Georgios

    It is an interesting article, I am wondering what was the purpose of this research. Also could it be that women started cuddling before the men had the chance to do so? I am also wondering if this is a cultural thing or if it applies to all the cultures?

  • Paulo

    I must say that this is all very well, and well known about. And yes, there are certain new, emerging social factors that are adjusting roles etc. But I can tell you this much, as a man.
    If a man is really into a woman, he will lay and cuddle with her all night, and do anything romantic and even (what some would term) ‘soppy’ things, like speaking in funny voices and calling partners by pet names……. if the man is really into someone, he wants her, and would marry her right there and then/make babies etc.

    If a man is just giving into his primal urges (due, perhaps, to having imbibed a bit too much alcohol)and pursuing a woman he would not usually consider as a lifelong partner/mate, it will hit him directly after orgasm subsides (even during orgasm) that he actually has no desire to be there, and will want to run or at least emotionally distance himself.

    This probably works both ways, though men are, I imagine, more likely to temporarily let down their personal standards in seeking sexual partners than a woman would.

Veronica Pamoukaghlian, MA

Veronica Pamoukaghlian, MA, holds a Masters in Creative Writing. She has directed two documentaries shot in psychiatric wards and a feature documentary about the 77-year old senior Decathlon champion of the world, Raul. Her last production is Monstruo, a short film about non-voluntary euthanasia. She is the CEO of Uruguayan film production company Nektar FIlms. You may visit her blog at The Wander Life

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