This is going to warp me, isn't it.
April 18, 2009 12:57 PM   Subscribe

So my girlfriend burst into tears after sex. Is that, uh, typical?

Hi all,

Long story. My girlfriend of a year and a half burst into tears after sex. She's in the middle of law school exams and stressed out beyond belief; it had been a while since we last slept together, and, well, immediately after the fact (and I mean immediately) she just burst into tears, and said she had no idea why.

So has this ever happened to anyone else? She's fine today, albeit embarrassed, but I'm not entirely sure how to react to this. We're really close, and haven't been fighting or anything recently, and I believe her when she says she doesn't know what happened; she just, well, burst into tears. Hell, she looked baffled while she was crying.

So, any thoughts or comments? This is a new one by me.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Previous and previous.
posted by quodlibet at 1:00 PM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

If her emotions are already running high, and something even more stressful (sex) occurs, then yeah, the outlet for all that could be bursting into tears. If there really is nothing bad between you, I wouldn't worry about it.
posted by Rykey at 1:01 PM on April 18, 2009

Something similar happened to my girlfriend. Not sex related at all. She burned a CD for me with the Barney theme song ("I love you, you love me, etc") just to be cute. As soon as the song started, she bawled. To this day, she has no idea why it happened.

Just an anomaly.

It's most likely related to stress. Try asking her what she was thinking at the time.
posted by DonSlice at 1:01 PM on April 18, 2009

I think hugs and support are called for.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:02 PM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Completely normal. I don't want this to sound sexist, as I'm a staunch feminist and girl myself, but sometimes we really do cry without knowing why and I think its part of being a girl for a lot of (not all) girls. Seriously, yesterday, my boyfriend spilled a beer on our couch, and I burst into tears. I don't like the smell of beer, true, but while I was crying I also knew it was completely out of proportion to what just happened, and felt really bad that I was making him feel so bad. I think it has something to do with hormonal fluctuations, and for her it might have been that, combined with adrenaline from sex, and her general stress level.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 1:03 PM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

For either the reasons of the stress or the sex (or both), this kind of thing happens.

The changes in physical/emotional/mental tension that both of these things create can be a bit overwhelming, and thus, tears.
posted by JauntyFedora at 1:07 PM on April 18, 2009

normal! Wires just get crossed sometimes, and YAY! gets mixed up with BOO!
posted by smalls at 1:08 PM on April 18, 2009

I've done it. Rarely, but I've done it. In my general asking around it seems like other people have done it too. It's normal.
posted by jessamyn at 1:08 PM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

People cry when they're happy too, like at weddings, the end of romantic movies, etc. Just remember that crying is a sign of overwhelming emotion, not necessarily sadness.
posted by delmoi at 1:10 PM on April 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

It's happened to me. Sometimes the "release" switch flips to "on" for a wide swath of emotions. She's not weird.
posted by rtha at 1:17 PM on April 18, 2009

Law school exams are a good enough reason to cry.

But, yeah, crying right after sex is normal (as in: other women do it, have done it, will do it again). Wuzzandfuzz has it: women cry for no reason at all. As an aside here, I watched a science show that claimed women have a certain chemical buildup in their tear ducts. The chemical is shed when she has an emotional crying jag (versus crying because of physical pain). The implication in the show was that men don't have this chemical. I haven't a clue what that show was, though, so I can't cite it.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 1:18 PM on April 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

This happens to me often, especially if I haven't had sex in awhile. I'm always fine until orgasm, but (despite being a staunch feminist too, like wuzandfuzz) I'm pretty sure something chemical/hormonal can happen during orgasm/sex to trigger this. Totally normal. The correct thing to do is to hold her while she cries it out.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:19 PM on April 18, 2009

The chemical is shed when she has an emotional crying jag (versus crying because of physical pain). The implication in the show was that men don't have this chemical.

Anecdotally, I've known FtM transexuals who can no longer cry at all, of find it very difficult to cry. I always figured that higher levels of estrogen encourage crying, and testosterone inhibits it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:22 PM on April 18, 2009

As someone mentioned above, this seems to be one of those topics that comes up often on AskMefi (or just seems to). Consensus seems to be that it's natural, and that when the emotional pipes are opened up, it's hard to control what exactly comes out.

It's happened to girls I've been with before, but never to me (which is kind of weird, since I tend to be more... umm... emotional than most guys). I can see how it would happen, though.

Long story short: It's normal. Make sure you let her know that, and that you love her.
posted by SNWidget at 1:57 PM on April 18, 2009

Judging from personal experience and from the above answers, I'd also say this is normal and not something to worry about. Try to make her feel less embarrassed about it if you can though, if she doesn't know it's normal and/or she's worried about what you think about it.
posted by abundancecafe at 2:07 PM on April 18, 2009

It happens. If she's really stressed, she may be holding everything in, and if sex for her was a release of control, she may have just lost control of all of her stress and instead of holding it in check, let it out.
posted by prefpara at 2:08 PM on April 18, 2009

If that's the oddest thing she's done in a post-coital state, she's not much of an oddball. It's a weird brainspace, and all kinds of emotional releases are likely. Seems like this is much more the case for women than men... encourage her to talk about her feelings, and go ahead and be jealous. Our orgasms are fuckMAZING.

And for heaven's sake, don't make her feel alienated about it, just do a little extra to help her feel supported in this crisis time.

Also, seconding that long spanses of time between orgasms are likely to make this effect more pronounced. Use that knowledge as you will.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:11 PM on April 18, 2009 [2 favorites]

I was told by at least a couple of ex-girlfriends that they had a tendency to cry after sex, especially early in a relationship, although they didn't do so with me.
posted by XMLicious at 2:48 PM on April 18, 2009

It happens. It's happened to me a couple times, and sometimes when there wasn't anything especially stressful/sad/traumatic going on in my life. I chalked it up to the fact that sometimes after sex, your emotions just get stirred up and your defenses are down, and whatever emotion happens to bob up to the surface at that moment just comes straight out. I honestly wouldn't worry about it; and I also wouldn't push to hard to get her to talk about it, lest she feel self-conscious about it. (Not that you shouldn't check in with how she's doing, if you said she was embarrassed about this, but just don't nag her to "no, tell me what's going on becuase something must be" if she can't put her finger on it.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:23 PM on April 18, 2009

Don't be astonished and please don't be offended. Holding her until the storm passes is the best thing to do. Sometimes we women keep emotions all balled up inside and when you let go *ahem* the top gets ripped off all those emotions and they all, good and bad, come tumbling out.
posted by CwgrlUp at 3:40 PM on April 18, 2009

I'm a girl - it's happened to me. If it happened to me every time, I might be worried about the stress in my life.
posted by ersatzkat at 4:23 PM on April 18, 2009

It's her, not you, and totally normal. Hold her close and keep handing her tissues.
posted by deborah at 7:27 PM on April 18, 2009

What everyone else has said. Sex is kind of like crossing high-tension electrical wires ... something's coming out (or in, and out, and in and out... ) and god only knows what it is. One of the girls I dated who is now a veterinarian was a laugher when we had sex when she was stressed out... peaking at climax, and then settling down into happy chortles and giggles in the afterglow.

Biochemically, she just had her already stressed neurons get hit with a giant dose of endorphins, hormones of all types, oxytocin, and a whole load of other stuff that's designed to cleanse and release. If she needs to cry as part of that release, then make sure she's safe and comfortable and knows you're there for her.
posted by SpecialK at 8:19 PM on April 18, 2009

tears? no. but an ex gf of mine had a panic attack one time. scared the shit out of me.
posted by swbarrett at 8:58 PM on April 18, 2009

Yeah, seconding the holding her close advice.
posted by Rykey at 9:13 PM on April 18, 2009

I've cried after sex but only when I was scared or freaked out - once in a new relationship, and a couple of times when it was obvious that the relationship was ending and I was ovewhelmed with feelings and fear.

But yes, we also cry for no reason, and when we're happy, when we're scared, when we're angry, when we're stressed, when we're tired, when we're overcome with adrenaline after awesome sex, when our hormones are doing weird things and we're about to get our periods, and when we can't find directions to the UPS warehouse after a stressful day (ugh).

Really gentle hugs and kisses on the cheek and shoulder help.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 9:02 AM on April 19, 2009

Yeah, it's happened to me a few times. Never on any sort of regular basis, but if I'm under a lot of stress or the sex was particularly intense, yeah, it can happen.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 12:44 PM on April 19, 2009

I'm not entirely sure how to react to this

Sometimes crying just happens, a sudden emanation that pops out like when you laugh for no reason when you don't mean to, or get an overwhelming urge to yawn at a time when you really shouldn't be yawning. It's not something you need to "react to" or "fix" or "deal with". Just let it be at this point. Coming at it like a problem you need to fix will only add to her stress level.

If it happens again, it might be appropriate to give her a back rub or say something about how you understand that she's under a lot of stress and you are there for her.
posted by yohko at 6:45 AM on April 20, 2009

My wife has done this twice during our marriage.

Both times, she ended up being preggy.

Just sayin'. =)
posted by spirit72 at 8:25 AM on April 20, 2009

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