Hellooooo…is anybody out there?
Have you ever had sex with a guy, only to watch him slowly disappear from your life? Maybe he doesn’t actually ghost you, but he stops texting as often, always seems to be too busy to hang out, and suddenly starts acting weird around you.
As Teri Garr’s character in the 1982 movie Tootsie said, “Sex changes things. I mean, I’ve had relationships where I know a guy and I have sex with him, and then I bump into him and he acts like I loaned him money.”
It’s classic male behavior, and yet somehow, it still takes us by surprise every time. Sometimes, you might not even want to see the guy again yourself – you were just looking for a night of fun – but it still stings when he withdraws. Other times, you were hoping a friendship would blossom into something more once you got down and dirty together, but instead, it slowly vanishes into nothing.
There are a few reasons men tend to get distant after sex – and a few different ways to handle it. Let’s break it down.
The chemical factor
I hate to fall back on biology and perpetuate clichés about the differences between men and women, but when it comes to the way we behave after sex, there’s no avoiding it: we’re slaves to our hormones. After women have any kind of orgasm – and there are several different, amazing kinds – we release oxytocin, which is sometimes called the love hormone or the bonding hormone. This makes us want to do things like cuddle, spill our deepest secrets, and have lots of babies. Okay, maybe not that last one, always – but if you start having fantasies about settling down and popping out kids, oxytocin can take the blame.
Men, on the other hand, experience a drop in testosterone after sex, which makes them feel like pulling away. That’s why they often fall asleep right after sex, answering your deep dark confessions with a snore. Having performed his manly duty, he loses interest for a while, until his testosterone levels have a chance to rebuild.
This chemical imbalance kind of sucks, but once you’re aware of it, it’s less likely to hurt your feelings. Just remember, our limbic systems haven’t caught up to feminism. They still think we’re only here to procreate.
The ‘where is this going’ panic
It’s not uncommon for both men and women to feel a little bit of ‘what does this mean?’ confusion after sleeping with someone for the first time. Men, as a rule, aren’t as comfortable talking about their feelings as women are, so if they sense that you might be about to start a ‘where is this going’ conversation, they might instinctively pull away and try to avoid you.
Let’s get something straight: there’s nothing wrong with being needy. We all have needs; it’s nothing to be ashamed of. But right after sex might not be the best time to initiate a big talk about the future. Maybe you’re feeling unsure about how you feel, and you just want to discuss things, casually. You’re not making any demands – how could you, when you don’t even know what you want? Still, right after you have sex, the absolute worst thing you can do is start peppering your sleepy lover with questions about how he feels, what he wants, and what the future might hold.
What to do about it
It can be hard to get over feeling hurt when a guy you really like pulls the distancing act. But if you can remember that biology is mostly to blame, it might help you keep things in perspective. Try to play it cool until you’re both clear of those orgasm-induced hormones, and don’t jump to any conclusions. Give him space, and wait to have any big talks about what it all means.
The best way to avoid this awkward scenario is to talk things over before you have sex with someone. Whether you only want it to be a one-night thing, just for fun, or you’re hoping that having sex will be the beginning of a serious, committed relationship, own your expectations and be forthright about them. You might be able to do this without killing the mood or making a huge deal out of it – maybe. The thing is, you have to be ready to hear an answer you don’t like.
If you tell a guy that sex is serious for you, and deciding to sleep together is a big deal that means something, and he gets freaked out and says he’s just looking for something casual, you need to be ready to walk away, dignity intact. Likewise, if you tell him you’re not looking for a commitment and don’t want to hurt him, and he tells you he’s not into one-night stands and he’s serious about you, you should be prepared to stop and let him off the hook.
Like most things in life, communication is key when it comes to sex. Just remember: even though it’s not easy to initiate a conversation, it can save you a lot of heartache later.
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Comment: Has a guy ever started avoiding you after you had sex with him?