3 Reasons Why You Feel Sad And Emotional After Sex — According To A Sex Therapist

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sad woman sitting at the end of bed after sex

As with everything else in life, sex doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes it leaves you feeling happy and connected, but other times it can make you feel empty, sad, or frustrated.

If you end up feeling emotional after sex, you might be confused as to the reason why.

It might be closely tied to the sexual experience. Perhaps it was unsatisfying, embarrassing, or a down-right disappointment.

Or might have nothing to do with sex at all, you just feel down and irritated.

Either way, you just need to know why.

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Here are 3 reasons why you feel sad, alone or emotional after sex.

1. You feel disappointed over the sex itself.

On the other side of sex lies the possibility for many things: connection, intimacy, and fun are a few of them.

But, sex also contains the possibility for things less positive than these — disappointment, frustration, and emptiness.

If your sexual experience with your partner is far from what you want it to be, it’s not strange if sex leaves you feeling emotional. Quite the contrary.

Sex often demands both partners to be vulnerable and open with each other.

You need to be committed to the experience when you give yourself and your energy to your partner. And when this doesn’t pan out like you hoped it would, disappointment creeps up on you.

Maybe the sex didn’t turn out as you'd planned because you weren't really turned on during the act.

In order for sex to feel good and pleasurable, it's important to experience both desire and arousal. This is why sex when one partner has low libido can be disappointing.

Other times, the disappointment stems from other things — sexual routine, lack of communication in the relationship (in general and about sex), and not performing the way you feel you should.

It's also important to consider society’s effects.

Society places a large emphasis on sex. Many people have clear ideas about what sex should be like, how it should feel, and how you should experience sex over time in a relationship that’s "right" and meant to be.

If you feel that the sex you’re having is more like fast food than a gourmet meal — rest assured everyone else experiences this from time to time, too, no matter how good their relationship is.

By accepting that all experiences can’t be twelve's, and realizing that not-so-great sex doesn’t necessarily mean anything’s wrong with the relationship, you can combat this disappointment.

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2. You experience post-coital dysphoria.

For some people, feelings of sadness or frustration have nothing to do with a disappointing sexual experience.

If you’ve had sex that was pleasurable and satisfying yet you still experience irritation, anxiety, and disappointment afterwards, you might be experiencing postcoital dysphoria.

Post-coital dysphoria is a relatively unknown condition and the cause is yet to be determined. However, this doesn't mean it’s not valid.

According to research, three to four percent of those who identify as men and two percent of those who identify as women experience post-coital dysphoria.

Even if there isn't a lot of information on why it occurs, there are a few theories bouncing around on the internet.

One of these is that the experience correlates with people who have other mental health challenges, such as depression or anxiety.

If you’re struggling with feelings that don’t align with the sex you’re having, booking an appointment for sex therapy may be helpful.

3. Your emotional guards are down.

Sometimes, the answer has nothing to do with disappointment about the sex or other negative feelings at all.

Your emotional reaction might in fact be a sign of joy and fulfillment after finally getting close to your partner.

In long-term relationships, sex can easily turn from a positive to a negative.

I've heard it all in sex — from sex being withdrawn as a way of punishing your partner to sex turned into a prize that’s "given" when your partner has behaved well (even if you’re not in the mood yourself).

Other times, you find yourself in a sexless relationship, not because of spite or ill-will but because your sex drive has plummeted.

Something that used to give you so much intimacy and closeness has turned into something you actively don’t want.

And so, when months or years of no sex is at long last replaced with a sexual encounter — one you really want and enjoy — it can set things off inside of you that have long been forgotten.

Not only do you feel connected to your partner again — you also feel connected to yourself.

Parts you thought you’d perhaps never experience again, start to come alive. The sexual side of your identity, your self-confidence, and self-esteem are renewed.

You experience that mind-body connection that makes you feel energized, happy, and content.

It’s a truly emotional experience that can bring the good kind of tears to your eyes.

When you work things out, sex can be blissful, again. You can feel emotional in a good way — vulnerable, close, connected with your partner and to yourself and to your sexual identity.

You might even cry tears of joy — not sadness.

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Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and writer with a Master of Science in Sexology. She’s been featured in Women’s Health, Thrive Global, The Good Men Project, Glamour, Elephant Journal and more. For more advice on sex and emotions, visit her website. To start working out how to deal with your emotions about sex, download her free resource: A Manual for Emotions.

This article was originally published at Therapy by Leigh. Reprinted with permission from the author.