Why men pull away after sex (and what you can do about it!)

Lauren Gray

Hi Lauren,
I’m friends with this guy and we really get along.  Last week we somehow ended up in bed together. It felt comfortable and natural. What’s bothering me now is that he’s been acting differently towards me ever since. He used to text me all the time and now he never texts me unless I text him first. He seems like he isn’t interested in maintaining our relationship anymore and I’m not sure why. We had fun. Why is he acting so different?
Hi Sonia, I totally get your confusion. You had fun together as friends, you had even more fun together having sex and now it seems like he doesn’t want to continue having fun with you. How does that make any sense?

Don’t kid yourself: Sex changes everything
Here’s the deal. You didn’t just try a new fun activity like kayaking or paper mache; you had sex. Once you have sex with someone, people act differently. That’s just how it goes. Male, female, young, old, casual or serious, sex changes everything.
It can make you feel really insecure when this happens. “Does he like me? Does he not like me? Is he interested? Are we together? Will I ever see him again? Did I do something wrong? What the heck happened?”
Some people hang out in those questions for weeks! But with this blog today I’m about to save you serious time and heartache. (You’re welcome)
Once you’re prepared with rock-solid MarsVenus understanding, you can say goodbye to this torturous line of questions and simply communicate your way to clarity.
Sound good? Let’s start with understanding.
How SEX affects Women
I know it’s cliché and it’s not always true but women tend to feel greater neediness after sex. If it’s not great sex, then this cliché falls apart. But if it’s good sex and a woman relaxes into it, enjoys it, and orgasms, the cliché tends to hold.
This is because of the bonding hormone: Oxytocin. During (good) sex, oxytocin builds and releases causing you to bond more deeply with your partner.
This chemical bond is what fuels women to sit by the phone thinking about the guy, waiting for a call or text. It’s not flattering, but it is hormones. The better the sex, the deeper the bond, the greater the “need.”
How SEX affects Men
In a funny twist of fate, men have a tendency NOT to call or text after sex. This is because men tend to pull away after sex.
During sex, oxytocin increases, which has the effect of lowering testosterone. When a man’s testosterone levels decrease, he feels a great need to pull away and may even lose interest for a while.
As his testosterone levels rebuild, his interest returns. Your guy may be calling you at this point as his interest or libido returns.
Or he may sense your “neediness,” your wanting more from him, and he may pull away further IF he doesn’t want to be in a relationship and senses that you might.
The Chicken or the Egg: Where is this relationship going??!
“Where is this relationship going???” You wonder.
This is a bit of a chicken or the egg scenario. Which comes first: Sex? Or clarity around what sex means to your relationship?
Did you ask him if he wanted to be more than friends with you? Did you talk about your intentions for a relationship?
99.9% of the time, people don’t have this conversation. They’re friends, they hang out, they flirt, and then suddenly, somehow, they end up in bed together. Only in the next few days, do they start to wonder about what it meant.
If you ask questions about where the relationship is going after the fact, specifically when a man pulls away, he tends to get very uncomfortable and withdraws even further. In this case, wait until he comes back looking for a connection, then you can get more of a sense of where this relationship is going.
But ultimately, in order to avoid sticky misunderstandings, it’s best to talk intentions around sex before you actually have sex, especially if you like the person.
The “Sex talk” couples SHOULD have but don’t
Is this a one-nighter, fun in the moment, kind of encounter? No strings attached type of play?
Or is this person someone you might want to pursue a relationship with?
Either way, whether you’re a man or a woman, it’s best to communicate your intentions and make sure you’re both on the same page before you have sex.
Here are a couple scripts I wrote to inspire you. I’ve used them both in my single days and they’re very effective.
Casual hook up: “Hey, so, just to be totally transparent, I want to make sure we’re on the same page, I’m not looking for anything serious right now or any kind of commitment or relationship. I just want to have fun and tonight I’m having a lot of fun. Cool?”
If he’s cool with casual, awesome! You’re on the same page and tomorrow won’t be awkward.
If he’s not cool with casual and wants more – he get’s to know for sure your intentions are just to have fun and he shouldn’t expect more. He’ll probably still want to have sex with you anyway. He’ll just know he needs to adjust his expectations.
(This same script can be used by men with women as well.)
Interested in more: “Hey, so, I’m having a really good time tonight. And before we go any further, I just want to make sure we’re on the same page. I’m really enjoying spending time with you. I don’t want tonight to be a one time thing; I’d like to continue hanging out and getting to know you better. Is that something you’re interested in too?
If he’s interested in more, awesome! You know you’re on the same page and tomorrow won’t be awkward.
If he’s not interested in more and only wants something casual, he gets to say that and you get to decide whether you still want to have sex with him.
(This same script can be used by men with women as well.)
Sex changes everything but hormones aren’t the boss of all things. You get to decide exactly how you want to play this. If you want to try being happy with casual sex, I have some suggestions…
How [many] women can be happy with casual sex
Many women can totally be happy with casual sex! Women can be fulfilled by a fling. There’s no one way to do this relationship thing. However, to facilitate this being a positive experience, it’s good to have this awareness:
For women, bonding increases with sex.
This just means that a casual sex scenario can potentially set you up to feel hurt or disappointed. So to protect your heart, it’s important to remind yourself of what this connection is: it’s casual friendly sex.

Your hormones will tell you that you want more and more. Your mind needs to counter these messages with your own logic and understanding.
The moment your logic can’t talk you out of wanting more is the moment you need to either take the relationship to the next level or stop hooking up so that you can get that kind of commitment you desire, elsewhere.
Always check in with yourself: What does this sex mean to me?

Because it always means something.
With love,
Now I want to hear from you!

Can you relate? Have you experienced sex changing a relationship? Leave a comment.
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read more blog posts from Lauren Gray
  • Lauren Gray
     9/21/2016 2:43:51 PM
    Ssharp - You're so welcome! I'm happy this helped you find more clarity. What a relief, right?! Communicating clearly is a brave thing to do but it pays every time. Best of luck to you!
  • Ssharp
     9/21/2016 3:03:09 AM
    Thanks, Lauren. This has really helped me understand what is going on with an on/off relationship I have been having. We hang out for a while, really enjoy each other's company, then end up in bed together. Then he disappears on me, leaving me confused and brokenhearted. When I try to talk to him about things, he shuts down and seems frustrated that I want to talk. Now I know, should he ever come back (and I hope he does, because I really love him) that I should have the sex talk before we end up in bed again, so we both know where we stand with each other....
  • TraditionalGirl
     9/20/2016 1:26:44 PM
    It is sad for me to see you giving advice to people that reflects an attitude toward sex that denies and disrespects the innate profoundness of this experience. Yes, I do think sex is meant as a gift from God to share with someone who values you tremendously, whether you value yourself that much or not. Yes, I do think the possibility of a child being created should be appreciated and honored as opposed to unnaturally blocked. Anytime a casual uncommitted approach is taken damage is done to a person. It may sound intelligent to treat sex like mere recreation but Truth says different. I expect that you and many others will be annoyed by my answer but I feel someone needs to express these thoughts. I know you mean well and applaud your efforts to help people. These are weighty matters that, I'm afraid, too many people are misled about. There is a lot at stake....

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