You’ve probably heard before about how foreplay can draw you and your partner closer, like staring into each other’s eyes or matching your breathing. But what about after sex? Is the time you spend together post-bone supposed to be reserved exclusively for cuddling? Talking about feelings? Rolling off and watching Girls?
According to sex therapist Debra Laino, D.H.S., “afterplay”—as in the things you do in those first moments, post-romp—are primetime for getting closer with your S.O. “It is so important for bonding,” she says, noting that there are huge releases of the love hormone oxytocin and bonding hormone vasopressin in your bodies at this point.
Remaining connected after sex (versus just going your separate ways) can also lead to greater feelings of emotional intimacy and higher relationship satisfaction, says Rachel Needle, Psy.D., a sex therapist and licensed psychologist at the Center for Marital and Sexual Health of South Florida. “Making use of this time post-sex can make partners feel more loved, closer, appreciated, and more secure,” she says. And, of course, there’s also the chance it will get you both primed for round two, points out David J. Ley, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who specializes in sexuality.
Try these after-sex moves to give your bond a boost—and maybe even help you get lucky again:
1. Hop in the shower together
Whether you worked up a sweat or just needed to rinse off anyway, a quick shower together can be a relaxing way to connect more deeply without the pressure to get physical, says sexual health consultant and educator Celeste Holbrook, Ph.D. Try sudsing each other up and then throw in a quick little shoulder or head massage in the process: Touch is key to keep that oxytocin flowing.
2. Have a replay
Those after-sex moments are a good chance to talk about what did it for you during that last round. Ley says it’s a good idea to use “I language” here, like, “I really loved it when you touched me like that,” as opposed to, “Was it good for you?” It’s also nice to hear your partner’s highlights—it can give you a boost of confidence and ideas for the next time, Holbrooke says.
Spooning doesn’t just feel cozy—it’s a great way to maintain a physical connection and bond, says Needle. Because of course.
4. Be silly
Sex is pretty serious, but most couples connect with humor, Holbrooke says. You’re already feeling pretty good at this moment, she points out, so spend some time being silly if the occasion pops up. “Some light self-deprecating humor can go a long way to helping your partner feel that you are being open and vulnerable,” she says.
5. Maintain eye contact
It’s tempting to lay on your back and look at the ceiling after a solid sex workout, but Laino says touching each other—and maintaining eye contact while you do it—is important for intimacy. “This is perhaps the most effective way to bond after sex,” she says. “This sends the message to your partner that they are present—and presence brings about great sex.”
“Eating light in bed and feeding each other can be very bonding,” Laino says. Try hand-feeding your S.O. pieces of fruit or bits of chocolate—it’s an incredibly intimate gesture.
Sure, you’re not going to be able to laze in bed or the shower together after every single time you have sex. And while Needle says you should practice good after-sex habits as much as possible, she’s also a realist: “There is nothing wrong with a quickie and then getting back to whatever you need to do that day.”