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After The Lovin’: The Psychology of Pillow Talk

After The Lovin’: The Psychology of Pillow Talk

By Dana DeMercurio

Let’s be honest, intimacy after physical relations can often be difficult for couples.  Whether dating for five months or married for five years, couples often struggle with finding the time and energy to make meaningful conversation post-orgasm.  For some, nodding off after sex seems to be the logical next step, but scientists have recently discovered that pillow talk might just be the key to a successful relationship. 

To get the conversation going, we sat down with psychology professor Dr. Daniel Kruger and his team of researchers from the University of Michigan to help explain their study of love’s lost art. After questioning nearly 500 heterosexual individuals through online surveys about sleep patterns with their partner, researchers found the participants’ desire for emotional bonding was greatest when their partner fell asleep first. 

Dr. Kruger stated: “The potential for bonding and sharing may be at its peak in the post-coital period, yet it also may be a stressful time if one is not getting the desired levels of emotional connection and signals of commitment.”

“Both women and men were more satisfied with their ‘Post-Coital Time Interval’ experiences when their partners were providing stronger signals of bonding and commitment. Those higher in attachment avoidance were less interested in talking about relationship issues after sex than their partner.”

Dr. Kruger added that both men and women were less satisfied when they desired greater signals of bonding and commitment than their partner was giving.

This body of research, however, did not confirm the age-old myth that men fall asleep before women post-orgasm. Research did suggest that men who in fact do fall asleep before their partner may use this tactic as a way to evade conversations about commitment. Conversely, women felt a strong need to sleep alongside their partner as a strategy to decrease their chance of being left for someone else. Dr. Kruger suggests that couples struggling with post-coitus conversation take subtle steps with carefully phrased requests such as “I really love it when you hold me afterwards” or “Would you cuddle with me?”

“If one party still is not interested and will not make an effort, this could be a sign of a lack of real interest in the relationship,” Dr. Kruger added.

To learn more about Dr. Kruger and his research on pillow talk, please visit  http://www-personal.umich.edu/~kruger/Kruger_Hughes_Sleep_2011.pdf