What Is He Thinking?

Decoding the male psyche.

Why Women Want to Cuddle and Men Don't

The age-old conflict between women's need to cuddle and gaze after sex and men's need to roll over and sleep (or, in the old days, to have a cigarette), involves distinctly different attitudes about sex and intimacy, both of which are held up as "normal" but both of which are equally neurotic. A psychoanalyst explains what's really going on. Read More

being valued

I think for men you are 100% right on. For women, as you mention above, it is far more complicated. Putting aside the socio-economic "I gave you sex = now you owe me security" line of thinking that most women still adhere to(and many men equally feel is part of the deal), what do you think of "being valued" as the deepest of reasons for the female need to be connected? As a 12-year-old male relative mentioned years ago to me about the difference between men and women, "Girls are innies and boys shoot it out." Women, pull in,having been entered are left carrying the evidence inside of themselves,even with the greatest of orgasms. While the success of men is to expel their emotions along with the ejaculate. Does that make sense? Or am I simplifying men?

In my experience, I do not

In my experience, I do not *ever* feel a "pulling in." I feel a shooting out, and yes, I'm a female. Perhaps I'm an exception?


Hmm...good point. See, I think that both genders need to be connected. The type of connection is different, though, based on the peculiarities--including the neurotic peculiarities--of both genders. Here's a man's view of connection: Antoine St. Exupery once said something like--"Love is not 2 people staring into each other's eyes, but 2 people standing side by side looking together into the future." That's connection, too. The issue is how this plays out in sex. I don't think men expel their emotions in sex. Their sexual pleasure, though, depends more than it does for women, on connecting WHILE STILL BEING SEPARATE (OFTEN VIA OBJECTIFICATION)....still a connection, but made safe through psychic difference...

Really insightful

Really insightful clarification, Michael. I will have to tape this to my mirror as a reminder, as well!

Your point that women need to

Your point that women need to know the man didn't simply f*ck them, and men need to know they can do just that, is spot on. Often, a man simply needs release. Asking a man to make every sexual experience a drawn-out, laborious affair with lots of fore- and afterplay is ridiculous.

By the same token, women need intimacy frequently, and giving that intimacy only after sex is just as ridiculous. While I disagree with your Freudian explanation, I think you have descibred the dilemma perfectly.

As a psychoanalytically

As a psychoanalytically trained therapist, I would like to add that cuddling is a need of the oral stage of development, which mature individuals are supposed to have more or less outgrown. Anyway, I think that there are many more factors than the one you mentioned involved in some women's need for cuddling on "attention" after sex, one of them being that they take a little longer to cool off.(Not having had an orgasm is one of them.)

Anyway, I think we shouldn't over-generalize, especially as therapists. From my clinical experience, but also my personal experience, I have come to the conclusion that there are as many men and women who like to cuddle after sex as there are not, and gender distinctions are not so clear. The same people may like to cuddle at certain times, while at other times they may prefer to turn on their side, withdraw into their personal world and sink into a satisfied sleep.

What a load of pop-psych

What a load of pop-psych claptrap. And opens it wide open for some "psychological" excuse for men to be pricks. "Oh, men and women, they're just from different planets!" Ugh. If we all start with the "I yam what I yam" position, then what's the point of even discussing such things? "Boys will boys." Whatever. Grow up.

If you're going to have sex with someone you care for, have sex *with* them. I mean, sure, there's always some objectification in men's minds, but not involving the other partner and serving the "sometimes men just need a release" excuse *can* feel degrading. For Christ's sake, go jerk off if you don't want someone else involved.

I'm a man, and I love to cuddle. Sometimes it leads to sex, sometimes not. But, in my book, it's pretty much mandatory *after* sex. Maybe not for long, but there's got to be some sort of affirmation of intimacy.

A lot of times, sex is about sharing a physical connection, admitting we both need human intimacy. And it's not about feeling safe or having reassurance that he won't go screw someone else next time—I've had my share of one-night stands, and been completely fine with knowing that, even in advance. Call me crazy, but I enjoy sex because it feels good to be close to someone, to share in touch and proximity.

Being that close to someone helps me remember I'm human and how important that human-to-human bond is, even if, in some cases, it's only fleeting.

Having sex to establish *distance*?? Whatever.

Thumbs Up, Anonymous! :D

Your comment has some years on it but it was so good I had to post to acknowledge your perspective. I thought the same as you do about this ridiculous article. It does nothing more than apply "cookie cutter" analysis on a topic that is far more complex than what is written here. No one summation is viable for all men and women when it comes to the subject of intimacy.

A man who loves to cuddle...

Ok...so is there something wrong with me...???
I cant help it...
I have always loved to cuddle...
I was clinging to my mom's leg when I was a child...
I love the feeling to hold hands and cuddle...
I am a cuddaholic...
there is something inside me that craves to cuddle...
so does that make me weird to want to hold a woman...
and want to snuggle up to her and love all over her...
I could cuddle day and night...
cuddle falling asleep...
love that...
I love to cuddle at restaurants...
watching movies...
after sex...
it seems women nowadays dont want a man like this...
I wish I could find a woman who loves to cuddle...
I love to hold hands too...
so why am I built this way...???

Nothing is wrong with you...I

Nothing is wrong with you...I am female and don't like to cuddle (rarely). I don't like someone touching me all the time and after sex I just want to get clean and go to sleep or watch tv or something other than lay around holding each other. My husband on the other hand is more like you Mr.Cuddles...he likes to hold and love on me. It really isn't a problem for us and we don't fight over it or get mad. We just understand that we're different. I joke and call him my girlfriend sometimes just to poke fun at him in a friendly way.

No, there is absolutely

No, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. People can spin these psychological "just so" stories to explain away any social construct that they want to. As a woman, I am of the opinion that women's "need" to cuddle after sex is a social construct. Probably men's "aversion" to cuddling is likewise a social construct.

For example, just off the top of my head, I can name the 1920's and the Medieval ages as times when small breasts were culturally considered the most beautiful. And yet, I hear psychobabble all the time "justifying" why a preference for large breasts must be biological. Rubbish, people just don't want to admit how much their culture and society shaped their emotions, thoughts, and desires. They always want to blame biology.

Growing up, I had never heard about nor discussed cuddling after sex until I was in my 20's. Therefore, when I first had sex with a man, after we were done I just hopped up and attempted to go off and do my own thing. I had never been taught that women are supposed to want to cuddle, and therefore did not feel the need. Well, the man freaked out when I did this and said "Wait, you can't go yet, we didn't cuddle!" so I figured he just liked that so I went back and cuddled with him.

Well, since I assumed that was just that one man's preference, with my second boyfriend I once again just hopped up and started walking away to do my own thing. And he also freaked out. A while later I learned that this was a social expectation. So, I think those boyfriends must have thought I didn't like them or something when I attempted to escape. Nothing could have been further from the truth, I just didn't have the societal influence of how people are "supposed to behave" after sex, so I did what felt normal for me.

So, to all you psychoanalysts and the Freudian-inclined: it is extremely difficult to differentiate between what is biological and what is cultural. True scientists have been trying to find a way to separate the two for years, and have found that since your upbringing actually changes the shape of your physical brain (the actual organ, not just the mind), it is usually impossible to tell the difference.

Physiological change?

I am a man. I have been with my partner for a few years. We both have what we consider a healthy love for each other; it is not the gleaming, fierce romantic masterpiece of movies, but we are very close, can spend hours talking, enjoy each other's company, share hobbies yet have other hobbies of our own, and our sex is great; we spend a lot of time on it, she averages 2.5 orgasms, and reports being "completely satisfied." I would have to agree.

With that said, immediately after I am done with my orgasm, I feel no desire to be close with her. In the first few minutes afterwards, I usually feel more like going to the refrigerator and grabbing a snack. The desire I felt before and during sex vanishes completely in less than 30 seconds after orgasm, usually within 10 seconds. As far as I can tell when attempting to analyze my feelings and thoughts regarding her and this issue, it has nothing to do with a fear that it is not "ok" to simply have sex. I do have a tendency to desire distance, she does have a tendency to desire closeness, and in speaking for myself, I think the statement you quoted by Antoine St. Exupery, "Love is not 2 people staring into each other's eyes, but 2 people standing side by side looking together into the future" is very true of the way I feel about our relationship. I am a man of relatively mild emotion, and through the course of our relationship (with many admittedly bumpy periods of time and learning), we have both come to accept the differing ways we express our care, and as such we understandingly accommodate each other even when it is against our impulses.

Despite my lack of desire afterwards*, I snuggle up close to her and hold her anyway; I know that after about 5 minutes or so, the initial lack of interest in physical contact rapidly diminishes, and I feel the desire to cuddle with her, reflect on the sex, and talk.

* (which in turn equates to a preference not to cuddle, since it restricts doing anything else that I do have a desire to do)

I want to emphasize that this lack of desire immediately after orgasm feels very physiological to me. It appears quickly, it is soon gone, and it doesn't affect my disposition towards doing other activities with her, only romantic ones. I've made this post to suggest that - at the minimum and based on my own personal experience - for some men in stable relationships, the desire to "have a cigarette" after the deed may largely be physiological instead of psychological, and therefore not necessarily an indicator of the man's view of or level of care for his partner.

this is just so funny

this is just so funny couldn't stop laughing, & couldn't decide if it was the longed for wisdom, or just the despairing restatement of stereotypal actions- so maybe its the uncertainty that is funny ( a dancing on mother's grave maybe?), or my unexpected comfort with the uncertainty thats comfortingly so humorous- now, humor and gender, thats another topic maybe?-

I'm curious how the

I'm curious how the explaination for this would differ if it was the other way around? If the man wanted the intimacy and closeness afterwards, and the woman just wanted to disengage?

Cuddling Women pro, Men no

There is a sociobiological component to this truism. Sexually, women want tension (and many orgasms); men want release (and one orgasm is about all they get). Stereotype is not the right word; it would exclude ideotypes (which many men are, especially gay men. Nor does it require explanation; it is what it is; it works to further the human race. If the guy wants to sleep, the woman should let him. He's done his job -- and, as usual, did most of the work.



What utter rubbish. The thing

What utter rubbish. The thing about guilt over your mother as a woman....that is absolute drivel. Are you getting paid for this stuff? Please!


I think this is funny... I love to cuddle when we are waching tv and all. I love it when my man comes to me and just massages my shoulders or gives me a hug from behind. But aftter sex Im the one who turns over and goes to sleep, and he is the one who says why no cuddling? I Love my man as he does me but sex just makes me extremly tired.I think women do it to its just not talked about as much.

Not true

No, it's not true. Not even close. I don't feel guilty about having better sex than my mom. She had great sex. The reason men have difficulty after sex is because sex is an extremely intimate act and being physically close after the act is terrifying for men who are uncomfortable with feelings. While testosterone has control, men are fine with being open, but once that's out of the system, they have to communicate on an emotional level, an extremely open and vulnerable level. Most men find this intimacy undo-able because they've been raised in a society where being emotionally vulnerable is considered a weakness.

But, men are getting better. In a few decades, I'm sure men will be more comfortable with post-coital intimacy. However these days, it is much easier to be a woman than it is a man.

How does anyone know what sex

How does anyone know what sex was like for their mothers? I think the explanation that women feel guilty about having better sex than their mothers is tosh. Freudian explanations are inherently flawed and based on Victorian notions and prejudices of an age where men were so enraptured in themselves, that they could never comprehend that they were not only not surperior to women, just diffferent.

thank you for being a man and

thank you for being a man and using the phrase "equally neurotic". THANK YOU.

What the ?

I agree with What a load of pop-psych
Where the heck is *any* proof for this anecdotal pop psych theoisin off the back of a napkin?

Try this for size - there are biochemical changes before, during and after sex.
No mention in this article on the effect of hormones etc post-coitus. There are hundreds of types of sex - to bundle them all together without evidence though?

Where are the figures on numbers who colossus post sex bs roll over?
The breakdown of sex for stress relief vs other? If a guy is tired, stressed but horny, sure they're more likely to be snoozy post sex!
Do men who hug more normally hbe more physical contact post sex?
There's lots of interesting stuff - but please, unless you're intentionally owing for a hysterical link bait article - go get some science, not pseudo claptrap.

just me but

I think the desire to cuddling has more to do with the amount of emotional attachment a person desires with their partner. The woman wants to know that this isn't just about sex, that there's a strong relationship, because she is flooded with Love Potion no. 9 (oxytocin) during sexual contact and it boosts her attachment to the object of her affection. Most guys, not so much. Most of them are going to get much less attachment juice during sexual activity than the woman, and there seems to be some evidence their attachment is based on a different set of hormones and perhaps takes longer for them to get attached that way. So not having just gotten a big does of love potion, most guys aren't as interested in cuddling as the woman. I know for me personally having more fun than my mother does not make me feel guilty. That's never been a thought that crosses my mind. I think that might be something the writer of this paper experiences, but I suspect that many other women do not. I would also suspect that a man having a daughter of dating age might cause more change in his perspective on how to treat his wife sexually than thoughts about his mother. But that's just my take on it. /shrug

just me but

Actually I meant to say the wife of the writer of this paper. Sorry.

clearly you don't know my

clearly you don't know my mother. although i've had many fewer sex partners (like 10X fewer) i haven't had any who wouldn't meet my eyes after sex. but then i won't have sex with someone until AFTER we're emotionally connected.

psychology today is mostly bs but i actually felt compelled to leave a note on this one because.... yo mama

"It's ridiculous for women to

"It's ridiculous for women to claim that separating sex and intimacy is inherently degrading"

Mr. Bader, the next time you lie on you stomach and allow a man to push his penis into your rectum and pound away until he orgasms, you can tell me all about how "ridiculous" it is to call that an intimate act.

The World's First After Sex Doll

Too many women know the disappointment of being with a man who has happily ejaculated and then, incredibly, is ready to call it a night, turn on the TV, sneak out the back door, or just roll over and fall sleep.

Just as her guy is checking out, she’s checking in. She’s got cuddling on the brain and he’s feeling about as warm and fuzzy as a cactus.

Never again does a woman need to feel abandoned after sex! My After Sex Buddy, the world’s first after sex doll, does what many men fail to do: be attentive, snuggly and nurturing even after climax. My After Sex Buddy is cute, cuddly and heatable, and most importantly, immobile!

I disagree

I found this very funny. However, I have to disagree that men don't like to cuddle after sex. My ex always loved to cuddle after sex. It was like an understanding between us that we ALWAYS had to cuddle or else he would put a pout on. Don't get me wrong, I love cuddling, but sometimes it can be too much.

Well, I am a man and i like

Well, I am a man and i like to cuddle but i don't do it after sex. The reason for it is not because i don't like my girlfriend or anything related to what was said on the article. It is just too hot for my body to cuddle after sex. I just need my body temperature to cool off before cuddling.

What is he thinking?

It's simple, orgasams make you tired and alot of time women don't have them before or at the same time as the man so of course the women are still hot and want more touch after the man has finished because they have not finished yet. If the women had an orgasam she would probably be sleepy too. My boyfriend needs about 10 minutes to snooze and "recover" then he's back to normal. It's just how the body is and I don't mind. After I finish I fall into a deep relaxing sleep so I understand.
That has been my experience and by the way I have no guilt at all about loving sex but I also love to cuddle to prolong the moment and be close, thats all. It is usually over so fast and that sucks!
I had years without sex with a partner but many huge orgasms a day with a vibrator then I met my boyfriend whom I rarely have an orgasm with because he dosn't like to do oral sex and dosn't want me to use a vibe when we have sex. If had to choose between my sex with boyfriend w/o orgasms or mind blowing orgasms with my vibe I would choose boyfriend because of the touch(and a penis)is so much more satisfying than just an orgasam. Lucky for me I can always use the vibe after he falls asleep, which is a few seconds after he's done:).

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Michael Bader, D.M.H.,  is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in San Francisco. He is the author of Male Sexuality: Why Women Don't Understand It—and Men Don't Either.


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