When Bad Feelings Come After Sex

Hi there. I’m Alexander Cheves, and my nickname in the kink community is Beastly. I am a writer and sex educator. My fetish memoir, My Love Is a Beast: Confessions, published through Unbound Edition Press, is now available everywhere books are sold.

On this blog, I talk about sex — mine and others’ — and frequently answer questions. Want to send me something? Email AskBeastly@gmail.com.

If you like what I do, please be a supporter on Patreon. Every dollar helps, and patrons receive gifts and perks. Because of rules regarding “adult content,” WordPress will not let me have ads or accept donations. Through Patreon, Venmo, and other ways, Love, Beastly is 100% supported by readers. (Please see my donation page and show me some love — I’ll love you back.) And sharing is caring, so please share this post.

Here are my answers to three anonymous questions below. Please note that my answers — along with most posts on this blog — are 18+.

I read your article for the Advocate regarding your favorite lubes. With your Number 2 choice (pjur back door), would you recommend it for pre-lubing prior to a party or event you might not be able to carry a bottle to? And of course wouldn’t have any to put on the top’s dick at that point. Is it thick enough to go the distance so to speak?

Howdy bottom,

That article is some years old and I don’t use Pjur Back Door as much as I used to — it’s very expensive, and I now invest more money in fisting lube, which Pjur Back Door is not — but it’s good stuff and lasts a long time. If I was going to a party where I knew I’d be getting fucked, I would still try to bring a tiny bottle of lube into the event, and that is what I recommend doing. If you go to these events often, you’ll gradually become a master of stuffing things into discreet places (socks, jocks, and buttholes). I have learned how to bring poppers, party drugs, and even a small douche discreetly into a party.

I always try to bring a tiny bottle of lube to a slutty gay event. If you’re going to go through the trouble of cleaning out, even if just to go to the neighborhood leather bar, it’s worth it to bring some lube — spit only takes you so far. Pjur, sadly, does not make tiny versions of Back Door, at least not that I’ve seen. Lube up beforehand with Back Door — it’s condensed and very slick, so you won’t need much (this is my favorite lube for cleaning out in the shower) — and smuggle in the smallest bottle of less-expensive silicone lube you can find.

Facts are facts: If you’re going to a gay party where the gay party planners plan on attendees fucking, no one should be patting you down heavily, and they certainly shouldn’t take issue with some lube, so I wouldn’t worry much about someone finding it. Drugs are different — though, despite their pretenses, events profit from attendees using drugs (folks tend to drink more, stay longer, and require multiple, expensive bottles of water and/or Gatorade to stay hydrated when they’re high) and want you to use them. A dance party with too-rigorous security people who confiscate drugs at the entrance will not have future attendees. In New York City, at least, event staff seem to have learned not to piss off the only segment of the population guaranteed to party and pay absurd ticket prices.

The easiest place to stash lube (or whatever else) is in your shoe, inside your sock. I’ve put things in my jockstrap before because it’s rare to have someone pat down the crotch area. I’ve put things in my butt before. Lots of homos have special party fanny packs (or “bum bags,” if you’re English) that have hidden pockets. (It’s not hard to find hidden pockets in shorts and other types of clothing, though if something can be felt through the fabric, it defeats the purpose of a hidden pocket.) But again, lube shouldn’t be a problem to just carry in, in your hand or pocket. If they take issue with it, you’re probably at the wrong party.

Love, Beastly

I’m a 30-year-old gay man who has been out since 13. I’ve always had a supportive family and environment and I am eternally grateful for that. I still have internalized bits and pieces of homophobia that I am working on with a therapist. Lately, I feel freer than ever before, I’ve been to orgies and bathhouses, and a BDSM workshop. I’ve gotten more comfortably open about my love of bottoming and kinks. I have very little embarrassment about going to gear night in just a jockstrap. I say all this because I believe I am a sex-positive person and yet….

Every time I orgasm I feel such a wave of sadness and regret and anxiety. I always thought this was the normal experience and what men were referring to when they joked of “post nut clarity.” Then I found there’s a name for what I am experiencing, post-coital tristesse which “is the feeling of sadness, anxiety, agitation or aggression after sexual intercourse, mostly in males.” This perfectly describes my personal experience. I don’t want to be touched or looked at after I cum, I just want to be alone and invisible. I am working on this with my therapist, but I was wondering if you could speak to this? What sort of advice do you have for dealing with this? What sort of practical things could I do or say to a partner? When I’m at an orgy or bathhouse, do you have any ideas for how to get through that intense recovery period?

I wish I could stay in that sex-positive pleasurable headspace, but it just feels so far away and unobtainable after I cum.

(As an aside, I really appreciated your response to a question posed by a disabled gay man. I’m deaf and could really relate to much of what you said and I appreciate you taking the time to really get into it)

Hi my brother,

I am between 50-60 percent deaf — stone deaf in my right ear and losing hearing in my left — so I really appreciate the final sentiment of your message.

A therapist is always a good idea. I believe our world would be a lot better if every person in it had a therapist for one year. Post-sex feelings of sadness and anxiety are very common, though the research is lacking. Postcoital dysphoria, or PCD — also called “post-coital tristesse,” literally “sadness” in French — is marked by melancholy, agitation, anxiety, and/or sadness after sex that can last between five minutes and two hours. It can happen with enjoyable, consensual sex, and can happen with or without orgasm.

People of all genders experience it. A 2015 study found that 46 percent of the 233 women surveyed experienced PCD at least once. A 2019 study found that 41 percent of men surveyed experienced it. The feelings you’re having are not necessarily post-coital dysphoria, but it’s possible. Many other things can cause these feelings too — and can contribute to PCD. Things like:

Hormones

When you have sex, different hormones surge through your body, including dopamine and oxytocin. If you orgasm, other hormones are released too, like prolactin. Together, these hormones can cause intense emotions. After sex, these hormone levels drop. This can cause some unexpected emotions, anxiety among them.

Your feelings about the person you had sex with

If you have unresolved issues, fears, or worries about this person and/or your relationship with them, sex can bring these feelings up and make you feel overwhelmed — especially with all those hormones at play.

Your feelings about your body

Lots of people — including me and men of all sexual orientations — struggle with body dysmorphia and complex self-image struggles and anxieties.

Your feelings about gay sex

Maybe you have an idea of what sex between men should look like or how it should happen, and your sex didn’t quite go that way. Most gay and queer men are not taught about gay sex in school (most people in the U.S. do not receive any sex-ed at all) and learn through porn, which presents a wildly unrealistic portrayal of gay sex. Your sex life will not happen like porn.

Maybe you’re worried about your ability to perform. People with penises, of all sexual orientations and at all ages, struggle with E.D., and those who enjoy receptive anal sex must contend with the added anxieties commonly associated with bottoming — most of which are rooted in cultural masculinity myths and gender norms or have to do with fears of poop (which are exacerbated by porn and the booming anal “cleanliness” industry).

Lastly, many of us queer people just feel plain guilt and shame about sex. The logical, frontal part of the brain — the part that deals with logic, social conditioning, reasoning — can conquer shame, but in sex, the cruder, reptilian brain takes over, and there, shame can linger long after we believe we’ve beaten it. Shame is rooted in our earliest experiences and memories and coded into nearly all social conditioning. Many LGBTQ folks are surprised to find latent shame — for their sexualities, for the things they want — during or after sex that they don’t feel in their everyday lives.

General anxiety and stress

Anxiety is the most common mental health struggle in the world. In the U.S. alone it affects one in every five adults.

Past trauma or abuse

If you’re a survivor of sexual assault or abuse, certain forms of touch and certain body positions can be very triggering. They can subconsciously bring up feelings of vulnerability, fear, and panic.

Any of these things can contribute to PCD or be the cause of PCD. My best advice: continue meeting with your therapist and start doing guided meditation exercises. Download Headspace or some similar app (I have used Headspace since 2015 and strongly recommend it) and do daily meditations. Pick a time in your schedule (morning is best) and devote 15 minutes every day to your mental health. It’s okay if you forget some days, but try to make it a habit (on average, you need to do something every day for a week to make it a habit).

In meditation, you will practice breathing, becoming aware of your environment, and centering your mind into the present moment. The benefits of meditation are becoming well-documented — it improves memory and focus and reduces stress — and I’ve found it incredibly helpful in sex. I don’t suffer from PCD, but I struggle sometimes with getting in my head, especially with fisting. In the past, my anxiety would get so bad that I’d often have to stop. I was projecting myself forward in time to some feared, imagined injury or projecting myself back in time to my last experience using meth and would become very triggered (like many folks who have misused meth, I’d start trembling from the euphoric recall and be unable to stop). Meditation has helped me learn to breathe, center, and remember that I am in this moment, nowhere else, and all I need to do right now is feel what I’m feeling, and this activity (fisting, sex, whatever) has one purpose and that is to make me feel good, right now.

My thoughts tend to race. Meditation helps me slow them down.

Talking about your anxieties with your sex partner can help you feel less alone in your fears, though not all sex partners are good candidates for this. If you’re doing an anonymous pump-and-dump session with a freak top, it’s probably best to not spill your sorrows and anxieties to him after you cum (if you cum). But talking to a more intimate partner — someone you have a special bond with — can help you fact-check whatever your mind is worried about.

Sometimes you will need to be alone, and that’s okay. Regardless of what you experience at the moment, it is a good idea, later, after you’ve had time to reset, to take stock of the reasons you could be feeling these things so you can make a plan for what to do the next time they come. Here are some good questions to ask yourself:

Was there something specific that my partner did to trigger these feelings, or did these feelings start when something didn’t go as planned?

Were these feelings of anxiety about the sex itself, my partner, or something else that’s going on in my life?

Was I reliving an abusive or traumatic event?

Were my feelings of anxiety about my own self-image?

When this happens in the future, do I want to be held or do I need some space?

I hope some of this helps. I’m a staunch atheist and don’t believe in the more mystical aspects of meditation (or certain practices of meditation). Luckily you don’t have to — the science behind meditation is growing (just Google it) and adamant atheists can benefit from it. The Headspace app is one of the countless ways to explore meditation and, in my opinion, one of the more accessible ones, especially for secular people.

Whatever you choose to do, know you’re not alone. Internalized shame, body image, body dysmorphia — every queer man struggles with these things on some level. Reach out to your people. We take care of each other through sex, community, and love. We are here for you.

Love, Beastly

Dear Beastly,

I’m new to bottoming and being fully gay. I had many years with a woman and now I have a most amazing man, I am finally able to accept who I am, what I like, and how I like it. Bottom line, no pun intended, how do you enjoy bottoming without getting your hole stretched so that you can’t keep yur “stuff” in the right place? I would love to have massive cocks but I also don’t want to shit myself?

Any suggestions very welcome.

Kent

Dear Kent (and the rest of you),

Are we still asking this question? That’s not how the butt works.

Be logical for a second. Do you think every gay man who regularly takes big dick is incontinent? How many gay men do you know? If you know any, have you ever asked them this question? Do you see evidence in gay life or gay culture that shitting oneself is common? Even if 10 percent of adult gay men took big dicks and, as a result, were at risk of shitting themselves, there would be complimentary disposable adult diapers tucked somewhere in every gay bar bathroom. You’d find posters above urinals advertising anal tightening services instead of drag shows. And you’d find simply a lot less sex — the risk of bottoming would be too great for most people (if incontinence was a real concern, I’d likely stop bottoming).

I am curious: Do you think every pornstar bottom, who often gets fucked by monster cocks on camera, wears diapers in his daily life? Even without asking this question to gay men you know, there is enough evidence in gay spaces and gay culture to raise some doubts about the (silly, false) idea that receptive anal sex permanently damages the butt.

If you are new to anal sex — I’m guessing you are — I promise you something: In the beginning, it hurts. One’s initial forays into getting fucked always hurt. Over time, the goal is to train the anus to loosen up at will. But that “loosening” — which is not the best word, and it is more accurate to say your anal muscles are actively opening on command — is not a permanent state. I get fisted all the time, and my ass closes back up tight within seconds of a hand sliding out of my butt — even after he’s been fisting me for hours.

The rectum is not weak. It’s a circular wall of strong muscles, and your anal sphincter (your butthole) is one of the strongest muscles in your body. It is surrounded by muscles that spend a lot of time maintaining your body’s balance and keeping your back straight. Such strong muscles and tissues don’t just go limp and lose power, forever, when you take big dicks (in fact, until you learn to mentally make those muscles relax, your ass will be unpleasant for a big dick — you will grip his meat so hard that it’ll bruise, and he won’t want to fuck for very long).

Read this post about training your butt for anal sex. You won’t get loose, hon. You’ll just re-train some muscles so that sex is less painful and more enjoyable.

Love, Beastly

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