Friday, 1 April 2016

The psychophysiology of post-sex pillow talk

After sex, are you the kind of person who whines about things, rolls over and promptly goes to sleep, or do you lie awake, whispering sweet nothings into your partner's ear? Whether you're a man or woman, a new study says your answer at least partly depends on your testosterone levels. The research, published in the Journal  of Social and Personal Relationships, involved 253 young adults giving saliva samples (from which their testosterone levels were measured) and then keeping a sexual activity diary for two weeks, including providing details of the kinds of things they said to their partner after sex, and their views about post-sex chat.

Participants who had higher testosterone levels saw pillow talk after sex as less beneficial and more risky (than people with lower testosterone), and when they did engage in post-coital chat, it was less intentional and tended to be more negative. But this main finding was qualified by the big O. That is, the links between testosterone and pillow talk only applied to people who did not orgasm during sex. Put differently, when people had an orgasm, they all conducted pillow talk like someone with low testosterone. But without an orgasm, high testosterone people were less positive and nurturing in their pillow talk than low testosterone people.

The researchers said their results add to past research that's shown post-coital behaviour is important to relationship satisfaction, and that high testosterone individuals tend to have less satisfying romantic relationships, probably because they tend to be less nurturing by nature. They concluded: "Not only does the current study contribute to researchers' theoretical understanding of sexual communication, privacy boundaries, and biology, but it could also have broader practical implications for romantic relationships."

--Physiology and pillow talk: Relations between testosterone and communication post sex


Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.

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