A new study published in Communication Monographs followed 253 individuals from ages 18 to 45, 197 of whom were female and 56 of whom were male. Some were single, some were dating, some were married; nearly all of them identified as heterosexual. Over a two-week period, the participants kept logs of their sexual activity (including details about orgasms and post-sex conversations) and their alcohol consumption. It turned out that subjects felt more comfortable sharing secrets with their partners after orgasm, thanks to the heightened sense of trust and lowered perception of threat induced by oxytocin. Plus, oxytocin-happy partners weren't just blurting stuff out in the heat of the moment; they actually intended to disclose deeply personal information post-orgasm — and felt good about doing so. Looks like pillow talk — which has a reputation for being full of “sweet nothings” — could actually be a golden opportunity to discuss personal issues in a positive manner.
This bonding effect may be negated, however, by alcohol consumption. It's true that under-the-influence sex can lower inhibitions and loosen tongues, but the study indicates that intoxicated pillow talk is about less-important information and is less positive than sober post-coitus conversation. Plus, the most negative post-sex interactions take place when partners have been drinking and fail to orgasm — a combination that, as many of us have experienced, is plenty common. So, for increased closeness with your sexual partner, skip the cocktails and enjoy the after-sex glow for a while before parting ways (or going to sleep); you may have your best conversation yet.