Why Do I Feel Emotional After Sex?
And why it matters - written by a sex therapist
As with everything else in life, sex doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes it leaves us feeling happy – but other times it makes us feel empty, sad or frustrated. If you’re asking yourself “why do I feel emotional after sex?” – you’ll want to consider the three reasons below.
The Three Answers to Your Question: Why Do I Feel Emotional After Sex?
On the other side of sex lies the possibility for many things: connection, intimacy and fun are a few of them. But sex also contains the possibility for things less positive than these, namely; disappointment, frustration and emptiness.
If your sexual experience with your partner is far from what you want it to be, it’s not strange if sex leaves you feeling emotional. Quite the contrary.
Sex often demands of us to be vulnerable and open with another person (or people).
We need to be committed to the experience and give of ourselves and our energy – and when this doesn’t pan out like we’d hope it would, disappointment creeps up on us.
Sometimes, the reason sex didn’t turn out as we’d planned, is because we’re not really turned on during sex. In order for sex to feel good and pleasurable – we need to experience both desire and arousal, which is why sex that occurs when we have low libido, can be so disappointing.
Other times, the disappointment stems from other things, such as: sexual routine, lack of communication in the relationship (in general and about sex), and not performing the way you feel you should.
When answering the question “who do I feel emotional after sex”, it’s also important to consider society’s effects. Society places a large emphasis on sex. A lot of us have clear ideas about what sex should be like, how it should feel and how we should experience sex over time in a relationship that’s “right” and meant to be.
If you feel the sex you’re having is more like fast food than a gourmet meal – rest assured everyone else experiences this from time to time, too. No matter how good their relationship is.
Accepting that all experiences can’t be twelves, and realising that not-so-great sex doesn’t necessarily mean anything’s wrong with the relationship, can help combat this disappointment.
For some, feelings of sadness or frustration don’t have to do with a disappointing sexual experience at all.
If you’ve had sex that was pleasurable and satisfying, yet experience irritation, anxiety, disappointment or feel down afterwards – you might be experiencing postcoital dysphoria.
Postcoital dysphoria is a relatively unknown condition, and the cause is yet to be determined. This doesn’t, however, mean it’s not valid; according to research, 3-4% of those who identify as men, and 2% of those who identify as women, experience it.
Even if we don’t know why it occurs, there are a few theories bouncing around on the internet. One of these is that this experience correlates with people who have other mental health challenges, such as depression or anxiety.
If you’re struggling with feelings that don’t align with the sex you’re having – booking an appointment for sex therapy may be helpful.
Your guard is down
Sometimes, the answer to the question, “why do I feel emotional after sex?”, doesn’t have to do with disappointment or other negative feelings at all.
Your emotional reaction might in fact be a sign of joy and fulfillment after finally getting close to your partner.
In long-term relationships, sex can easily turn from a positive to a negative. In sex therapy I’ve heard it all – from sex being withdrawn as a way of punishing your partner, to sex turned into a prize that’s “given” when your partner has behaved well (even if you’re not in the mood yourself).
Other times, you find yourself in a sexless relationship, not because of spite or ill-will, but because your sex drive has plummeted.
That which used to give you so much intimacy and closeness, has turned into something you actively don’t want.
And so, when months or years of no sex is at long last replaced with a sexual encounter – one you really want and enjoy – it can set things off inside of you that have long been forgotten.
Not only do you feel connected to your partner again – but connected to yourself.
Parts you thought you’d perhaps never experience again, start to come alive. The sexual side of your identity, your self-confidence, and self-esteem are renewed. You experience that mind-body connection that makes you feel energised, happy and content.
It’s a truly emotional experience that can bring the good kind of tears to your eyes.
Working It Out
There are lots of reasons you can end up feeling emotional after sex. Some are very closely tied to the sexual experience: perhaps it was unsatisfying, embarrassing or a down-right disappointment.
Some have nothing to do with sex – yet lead us to feel down and irritated – a condition known as post-coital dysphoria.
Other times, sex is bliss, leading us to feel emotional in a good way; vulnerable, close, connected with our partner and to ourselves and our sexual identity. We cry tears of joy – not sadness.
By using the answers above as a check-list, you can answer the question “why do I feel emotional after sex?”. The next step is working out how to deal with it.
My free resource “A Manual For Emotions” helps you deeper understand the connection between your feelings and sex – and how to deal with them – no matter what feelings they may be. Download it to take the next step.
Leigh Norén is a sex therapist with a Master of Science in Sexology. She helps people reduce stress, shame, & anxiety surrounding sex-so they can get their sex drive back and enjoy their partner again. If you want to increase your desire, download her free resource The Desire Test.
Originally published on Therapy by Leigh.