Updated 26 April 2013

Don't forget dessert

You've just had amazing sex, what now?


Sex is often compared to a gourmet meal. A hungry couple will savour the starter bite for bite, wash the main course down with a bottle of wine, and then all of a sudden… feel their eyelids get heavy. In this way, the couple miss the best part of the meal… dessert! ANNELIZE STEYN from Intimacy4Us looks at afterplay.

After a particularly hot and sweaty session of fulfilling sex, he may feel like Clark Kent and you like Lana. Your cheeks will glow and satisfaction will hang heavy in the air… but have you ever thought about what ought to happen next?

Why should you enjoy afterplay?

For years, the average man has endured ample criticism and been called a ‘typical male’ when he starts snoring just moments after sex, while his wife is still gasping for air after an energetic session. In the past, men deserved this stereotyping; believing that the ‘main course’ was substantial enough and that starters were a waste of time… never mind dessert!

Thanks to ample media coverage and women beginning to play an equal role in the bedroom, men have begun to realise that if they wish to defend their reputation in bed, bed-etiquette is an absolutely must.

Most modern men are wise beings and do appreciate basking in the afterglow of sex, but there are still those who see this part of sex as an over-indulgence. What a pity! All the different stages of sex are important in the creation of sexual enjoyment for both him and her. Foreplay awakens latent sexual feelings and is the catalyst for great orgasms, whilst afterplay is the part of sex which ensures that love is involved.

This is not to say that love shouldn’t be a part of the entire love-making process, but it is during the moments after sex that couples have the chance to express matters of the heart, as opposed to matters of the flesh. After all, once you have experienced the unbelievable feeling of great sex, why wouldn’t you want it to last for as long as possible?

John Lenciewics, director of the Institute for Sexuality and Relationships, compares sex without afterplay to an open sandwich, saying that “without it, there just isn’t anything to hold sex together. Afterplay makes sex tangible and unforgettable. Because sex involves such a deep level of sharing, afterplay acts as a barometer for the relationship.”

The psychology behind afterplay

For him, afterplay doesn’t come naturally, and when he does make the effort, it may seem like he is repeating something he read somewhere. Afterplay doesn't always mean that you have a healthy relationship either.

In her article ‘It’s not over till it’s over’, Elisabeth Winkler writes about a friend, Julia, who said that afterplay brought her to a realisation. “It made me realise that there are two types of sex between me and my husband. The first is exotic bonking – which is fun at the time, but later leaves me feeling empty and hurt. The second type is all about love and is born of the intention to bring about closeness between me and Nick. This kind leaves me feeling completely different afterwards, and I’m left glowing and satisfied. The next morning, I look at Nick in a different way and that feeling can last for days.”

Nick admits, “Through the years, I have learnt to be more sensitive. I have come to realise that it doesn’t matter how fast I undress – I need to stay lying down after sex, entangled and connected with my wife. Sex has become less of a quick bonk latelythan about being in a relationship. This makes afterplay a fulfilling experience.”

Psychologist and relationship expert Malcolm Stern recognises that he had a lot of acrobatic sex back in his day. “This fulfils you for all of 10 minutes,” he says. “It took me years to learn that sex isn’t about the release of frustration, but about a deep coming together between two people. If we risk being generous, afterplay can be a wonderful time of connection, like pudding after a delicious meal.”

If the average man could have his way

When you ask a man what activity he would choose to engage in after sex, sleep is a common answer and usually features very high on his list of priorities. Number two? He would like to eat something. “The ultimate male fantasy is to have sex, and to wake up to a smiling female waitress who bends in front of him offering a plate of warm nachos and a cold beer,” writes Eve Salinger in The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pleasing Your Woman. Apparently, the reason for this is physical. When you orgasm, your body releases oxytoxin. This is the hormone responsible for you feeling sleepy.

But men blame their bodies too often. “Men do need a recovery period in which to recharge their batteries, but if it is late at night, this type of sleepiness can be compared to that induced by having a glass of wine. Let’s not exaggerate – we are talking about strong sleepiness, not post-coital narcolepsy!” says John.

Why doesn’t it work this way for the fairer sex? Because our need for emotional connection is stronger than our need to sleep. Sex also leaves you feeling vulnerable to your mate. Men who don’t enjoy feeling like this, overcome this feeling by sleeping but a woman’s emotional need for reassurance is stronger than her need for sleep. 

For him: tips for fantastic afterplay

Make sure you do a few special things to show her that you do take her feelings into consideration.

  • Don’t fall asleep. Whatever you do… don’t fall asleep.
  • If she is lying on a wet spot, bring her a towel to absorb the stickiness.
  • If she needs the toilet, don’t run out in front of her, even if you think your urge is greater!
  • Let her shower first, or even better, shower with her.
  • If she’s thirsty, fetch her a glass of water or something else to drink.
  • If you use condoms, make sure you throw them away and don’t leave them in bed or on the bedside table… not even for a minute!
  • If she used a diaphragm, give her the privacy to remove it. 
  • For top-notch cuddling, drape your entire body over hers.
  • Praise her with genuine compliments.
  • If she wants to put her underwear on, pass it to her.
  • ...but reassure her that you prefer her without it!
  • Don’t get up… not to drink milk, and not to check your emails!
  • Don’t talk about irrelevant things that she has no interest in.
  • Stay away from your cell phone – it can wait until later.

Your wife is physiologically different to you. She wants to be caressed… but there is also another reason why she’s still awake after sex whilst you rub the sleep out of your eyes. Maybe she hasn’t reached orgasm… or maybe she has, and she’s ready for round two. If you really want to be her hero, ask her if there is anything else you can do for her. Perhaps you aren’t ready to have another erection, but who says you always need a penis to please her?

For you: Remember, he is created differently to you

While he looks as if he has just run a marathon, you may feel wide awake and want to talk (maybe this is why he’s tired).Men feel that talking after sex is unnecessary. They are action-orientated and feel that you have both ‘talked’ using your bodies. If you really have something on your heart, feel free to talk, but make sure you don’t discuss the following:

  • “So tell me… how do you feel about our relationship?”
  • “Did you fantasise about another woman? Who is she and where does she stay?”
  • “Do you think that having children is OK?”
  • “Eew… I must have shaved my legs two weeks ago!”

Rather try the following:

  • “Wow! You are such a stallion!”
  • “You know just how to let your fingers do the talking…”
  • “I wish we could do this every day.”

For him: Remember, your wife is a sensitive soul

Just as she needs to avoid certain topics, you need to consider her feelings. The following subjects are taboo:

  • “Wow! We’ve come a long way since our first encounter!”
  • “My mother and father are visiting us tomorrow. Did I remember to tell you?”
  • “Did you remember to send your tax return in?”

Talking like this will get you full points:

  • “I can’t get enough of your body.”
  • “It’s times like these that remind me why you and I are together.”
  • “I could lie here with you forever...”

Because you are both relaxed and open after sex, this is a good time to talk about your dreams for the future, a weekend away or a holiday. Don’t talk about stressful topics and don’t rock the boat with weak jokes. Give each other your undivided attention, with the attitude that time is irrelevant.

For him and her: a few fun things to do after sex

After sex, both of you are in the best mood possible. Make sure that this atmosphere lasts as long as possible.

Have a midnight feast

If you both want something to nibble on, act like naughty kids. Walk to the kitchen naked while the rest of the house is fast asleep. Keep the lights off (in case Junior also gets hungry) and raid the fridge to your heart’s content. You could even keep a special shelf stocked with all kinds of treats for such occasions. Sit naked on the floor and eat while you whisper in each other’s ears. You may want to feed each other… although this could lead to round number two… in the broom cupboard!

Listen to a special CD together

Buy a post-sex CD which you both enjoy and listen to it together. Make sure it’s one that you can listen and fall asleep to later…

Walk around the block a few times

This won’t work if you’ve had sex at midnight, but if you’ve had a lazy Sunday morning, and can’t get yourselves to get up – put something on quickly and walk through the neighbourhood hand in hand. You could even laugh naughtily at each other before kicking your underwear aside and going out without any on. This could be the fuel for yet another fun session.

Share the duvet in front of the television

You know which television show causes tension in your household, so now is not the time to put the next season of Desperate Housewives on. And he’s not allowed to watch ESPN either. If you both want to watch a movie after amazing sex, watch something that both of you will enjoy. Creep deep under the duvet and lie close together. If you need to laugh, why not watch a comedy?

Page through magazines together

Avoid the Sunday paper – this could spoil the experience through having to read about murders and electricity outages. Rather page through some glossies. You could also read a travel article and dream about going there, or plan your next holiday. If you are both linguists, and are game for a laugh, fill a crossword in together.

Give each other a massage

Maybe you are both too exhausted for a full body massage. Remember that there are different ways to touch each other. Let your mate lie with his or her head on your lap and give a head massage. Or lie with your head on a cushion, and let him massage your feet. You could also rub each other or scratch each other’s back. This is a way of connecting on a non-sexual (but still sensual) level.


For him and her: Sleep together

If you are both tired and have agreed to fall asleep together, this can be a very intimate experience. Make a thing of it, and don’t just turn around and put the light off. Here are a few tips:

  • Burn incense or use a burner with essential oil to give the room a pleasant smell.
  • Pull a comforter or luxury throw a little closer. It should be one that you only use for special occasions or guests.
  • Blow the candles out and turn the light off, but play your favourite CD in the background.
  • If you are used to sleeping far apart, make sure that you stay in contact with one another by holding hands, or even making sure that your feet touch.

For you both: Afterplay is never-ending foreplay!

There is no rulebook that says afterplay is essential. There is also not as big an emphasis placed on afterplay as foreplay – but those of you who are frequent ‘afterplayers’ will know that this provides for an amazing sexual atmosphere between a couple and that afterplay often forms part of your next foreplay. Try these strategies:

  • Leave a note on your partner’s pillow that says: ‘I still feel your hands on my body’.
  • Send a text later in the day that says: ‘Last night is still a vivid memory’.
  • Send a bunch of flowers with a note saying: ‘I hope we can do that...’.
  • Send an intimate email that says: ‘20 reasons why I love you’.
  • When you come home, drop everything and grab him around the neck.
  • Make an appointment for next time – great foreplay and afterplay.

Sex, as God meant it to be, brings two people closer together. It is a play of passion that adheres to some rules, and throws others aside. Remember that a meal isn’t half as nice when you sit opposite an empty chair. Sex should be a combination of give and take… of feeding each other and enjoying each bite. Don’t ever make your partner feel isolated or misused. Through practising something as simple as afterplay, it is easy for you to ensure your partner understands what he or she means to you. In this way, he or she will look forward to the next time you come together and the effect it has on your togetherness. Remember, dessert is too delicious to miss out on… and you’ll taste its sweetness for a long while to come.


The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Pleasing Your Woman, by Eve Salinger;;; ‘It’s not over till it’s over’, The London Independent (21 January 1996) by Elisabeth Winkler. This is an edited version of an article which appeared on Intimacy4Us in June 2008

(Picture: couple sleeping from Shutterstock)

Sexual superhero: penetration


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