According to biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher, author ofAnatomy of Love and four other books on the science of love, our brains have evolved over millennia to create deep feelings of attachment after sex.
There are three main brain chemicals that work to bring long-term couples closer together after intercourse: oxytocin and vasopressin—known as the attachment hormones—and dopamine, the reward chemical. This cocktail of chemicals evolved, according to Fisher, to enable couples to bond long enough to raise at least one infant together. In other words, pair-bonding provides motivation to share parental chores, which benefits offspring. Evolutionarily speaking, romantic attachment is a good thing for the human race.
While sexual intercourse can create warm and fuzzy feelings for both women and men, it also tends to make men sleepy—at least in the short-term. Scientists have recently discovered thatparts of men’s brains shut off after sex—specifically their prefrontal cortex—which can cause drowsiness. Not exactly news to many couples, but apparently that, combined with the release of hormones like prolactin, has a profound sleep-inducing effect for men. An orgasm might make a man feel closer to his mate, but it also acts like a very pleasant sleeping pill.
So while orgasms often make women feel loving, energetic, and almost literally high—they can make men feel like they just took a don’t-talk-to-me-I’m-tired pill.
In short, if he falls asleep, don’t take it personally: It’s not you, it’s his prefrontal cortex. And his inability to answer questions can also be seen as very good feedback—he liked sex with you so much that he’s completely knocked out. He also may just need a 10-minute nap instead of falling into deep sleep—you could talk to him when he wakes up from that, refreshed.
If you’re strategic, and don’t take his grogginess to heart, you can use the post-coital period to your advantage. Here’s what to bring up, and what not to, while you’re pillow-talking post-sex:
What not to say:
- “I’m really irritated about this thing you do all the time.”
- “I thought I asked you to fix that crack in the ceiling.”
- “That was great, darling, but last time was better.”
- “I’m looking at your face and I just want to smash it with a sledgehammer and squeeze it, you’re so pretty” (unless you’re Adam Sandler in Punch Drunk Love).
- “I’m looking for ways to improve; will you fill out this customer-service questionnaire?”
- “And now for your performance review
- “God, I love the way you kissed my neck/did that thing with your tongue/used your hands like that.”
- “You’re really good at this.”
- “Your face is so adorable.”
- “I like the way you smell/feel/look/sound.”
- Any compliment that starts with his name
- “You know what I wish?”
- “Let’s go on vacation/go to dinner/start a project together.”