Post-coital repulsion
December 21, 2014 5:50 AM   Subscribe

I use sex-related words in my question, so I've placed it in the extended area in case anyone is browsing at a prudish workplace.

At the point of orgasm--even before it's done--I feel an instant impulse to get away from my partner, no matter who the parter is.  It's like I've made a quantum leap into this situation that I really have no interest in.  (Not quite so dramatic as that.)  Whatever carnal compulsion I was feeling disappears completely and in its place is bemusement about the ridiculousness of what we've just done.  Maybe I want to stay in bed, but I want to be alone if so.

I'm a heterosexual man in his mid-30s with minor kinks within the bounds of the American norm.  That is to say, nothing I do is any grosser than what anyone else does.  I think I've always had this quirk, but it's hard to remember all the way back and when one is younger it's tricky to tease apart the emotions.

I don't really act on the repulsion, or at least I actively resist it, but I assume every partner picks up on it.  In their place, I would.  I think a lot of men, maybe most, experience this to some degree, but jeeze, I gotta be an extreme: I postpone sex with new partners and often forgo my orgasm (which isn't a big loss, as this has always been easier for me to do alone).  Every partner picks up on the oddness of that, too, and explaining the why is awkward and honestly not believable.

So: can someone help me to feel better about this?  Strategies for mitigation?  I've had very little success Googling.  There is this:, but my situation is different: I don't feel sad, I feel great. Energized.  It would just be so much better if you weren't here now.

In case someone wants to answer anonymously:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I think you should assume this is just a form of the not uncommon post coital depression. If it's this much an issue for you it's worth discussing with a doctor and investigating medication/therapy.
posted by phearlez at 6:19 AM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Good for you for realizing how problematic this can be for your partner, and so addressing it.

This kind of strikes me as a power thing, maybe tied to some negative feelings about sexuality deep down inside. Kind of like a very specialized, sexual version of Harpo Marx's saying, "I wouldn't want to be in a club that would have me as a member."

Sexual relations almost always have elements of power and control, even outside of explicitly D/s relationships. Many people have strong negative reactions to the sense of dependence on their sex partners--for pleasure, for affirmation--and that can manifest as contempt. Maybe your reaction arises because that sense of dependence becomes activated as you get close to orgasm?
posted by Sublimity at 6:39 AM on December 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

In my limited experience, this is somewhat common among white male Americans (ie, my friends and myself). Although it's not of long duration (5 minutes). Mitigation? Umm - just tough it out? I think some guys make a run to the shower or to get drinks, or to go to the bathroom. Don't pull a Craig T Nelson ("I'm going down the hall to get some ice" and never come back) or, worse, a Sterling Hayden (order your bomber wing to attack their targets in the Soviet Union).

This is just me: the more I truly enjoy the company of the woman I'm with, the less this is a problem. If I'm in love with her (or at least a very good friend), I don't have this "repulsion" at all. So the real "cure" - as Pollyanna as this might sound - is to not have sex with women unless you truly have strong feelings of affection for them.
posted by doctor tough love at 6:43 AM on December 21, 2014 [24 favorites]

I think this is partly not psychological at all, but biological. I experience something pretty similar- the hormones flush suddenly and my body feels tired and sensitive and I want no more touching. I'm a woman. I have heard anecdotally from other women this same thing. The feing of "ridiculousness" sounds familiar too. Sex IS ridiculous to my totally sober mind but the arousal hormones allow me to temporarily overlook it.

The problem comes with "I want to be in bed, but not with her." Really? That seems pretty extreme to me. Can she be in the same room? Would it make a difference if you aren't touching? Most women can understand being too sensitive for touching, but won't understand not wanting to talk to them like a person. That part sounds more psychological to me. And I agree with doctor tough love, it probably means personality-wise, you don't like her as much as you could.
posted by quincunx at 7:54 AM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think professional help is a good idea. I noticed that you specified that nothing you do is "any grosser than what anyone else does", which seems like a revealing way to put things.

It sounds like you are repulsed by sex and not the specific person you're having it with. I do not see that as something that most people feel, or at least not something that most people should feel.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:09 AM on December 21, 2014 [9 favorites]

I've heard of this - you're not the only one.
Lots of hits for disgust after orgasm, and people thinking it's related to the porn they're watching etc.

It does appear to be related to the refractory period. Maybe try and distinguish between, being disgusted by sex, and being disgusted by your partner?

* You could have shame issues around sex that are coming out when they're no longer being overridden by feelings of lust, so trying to work with that might help.

* Cuddling - If you feel comfortable lying with someone, hugging and touching them when you are feeling completely nonsexual, would you feel more ok with the person afterwards? Maybe try making sure you feel comfortable in close proximity with the other person, before having sex? If it is a hormone thing (theories online suggest prolactin), touching releases oxytocin which may compensate.

* How long does it last? If it's really only a few minutes, maybe making sure they come first, then just tuck them in, kiss on the forehead, and say you'll be back with a warm washcloth (which is something some people do after sex - enough to not be weird). Go bathroom, see if the little break has you feeling better, then come back and give your partner some aftercare. That might get you over the hump while your partner still feels cared for.

* One person online suggested they just had to willpower themselves through it, like masturbating immediately after release, and it stopped being so much of a thing. Lost the link, but that's pretty much all the comment said.
posted by Elysum at 8:11 AM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, this is what getting up to pee / get a drink of water / smoke a cigarette is for. If the feeling's lingering for longer than that, then maybe it's a problem.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:16 AM on December 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

How do you feel about these women at other non-sex times? Like if you had a choice between watching a movie/buying groceries/going to a friend's party with or without them, which would you pick? It could just be a case of not really liking the people you're dating enough.
posted by MsMolly at 9:58 AM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

My own experience here was of my subconscious disgust with myself.
posted by Middlemarch at 10:45 AM on December 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Does this happen after solo masturbation? Because if not, I'd be questioning if this is just a variation on the standard Madonna/whore complex.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:22 PM on December 21, 2014

Your mention of a preference for or greater ease with bringing yourself to orgasm after sex than during it with your partner, which I don't think is necessarily wrong or abnormal, indicates something of an absence of trust to me. My reading of the sudden discomfort you feel after sex is that under the sway of sex feelings/hormones/desires you have momentum to carry yourself through an act or maintain an enthusiastic disposition that normally (or "soberly") you would resist. I think the general structure of frenzy and then denouement is quite typical, but the extremity of your feeling seems like there's something deeper there that you could benefit from working through. Feeling safe, trusting that you can be taken care of in the ways you need to be taken care of, this is totally possible and worth working towards.
posted by kaspen at 2:55 PM on December 21, 2014

I would be astounded to hear that someone I've just had sex with feels disgusted after the act.
posted by glasseyes at 5:14 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Maybe you ought to stop doing things that are "no grosser than what anybody else does"? Maybe you should try and do things you don't think are gross?
posted by glasseyes at 5:19 PM on December 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Since no one else has suggested it, this seems like exactly the sort of issue that a good sex therapist could help with, if you can get your hands on one (ha.) It might be psychological, it might be biological, it might be something you can work past or it might be something you need to work around-- no matter what it is, it does seem like something someone with a lot of great professional experience could help you sort out, and they can help you navigate how to bring it up with a partner in a caring and appropriate way as well, should you ever need to.
posted by WidgetAlley at 5:33 PM on December 21, 2014

I think this sort of thing isn't entirely abnormal. I have feelings like this when getting into sexual situations -- the instant I realize OMG SEX IS GOING TO HAPPEN I almost want to call the whole thing off, even if I really like and want to sleep with the person in question -- which I often have to work pretty hard to circumvent.

Nthing Doctor Tough Love that this is much less of a problem with partners I'm really into beyond just sleeping with them.

(FWIW I'm pretty sure that in my case there is probably some underlying psychological issue, but, you know, either way, there's nothing wrong with you and you can get through this by working on it.)
posted by Sara C. at 9:25 PM on December 21, 2014

This post orgasm wave of anti-sex interest it seems might be a selected for behavior, being vulnerable and naked 100,000 years ago might not have played out well. Being separate from the act and the scent of the act or a need to distance oneself from the scene as it were might be a residual go-to safe place. Just seen through the modern filter we all feel funny about it to one degree or another.
posted by Freedomboy at 9:34 PM on December 21, 2014

If you feel disgusted after sex, you probably just masturbated into that person.
But maybe that's what orgasmic sex usually is.

(speaking as someone who therefore tends to avoid it)
posted by serena15221 at 11:45 AM on December 22, 2014

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