THE BLOG

Can Women Have Casual Sex Without a Post-Hookup Hangover?

10/08/2013 01:02 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

Is it possible to casually hook up or have sex without creating any kind of emotional response or a longing for attachment?

This is not a "one-size-fits-all" question. For the purpose of this post, I am going to speak mostly to the heterosexual ladies. So, let me get a little more specific: generally speaking, are women as able and likely as men are to have emotionless sexual experiences and still find them satisfying beyond just the in-the-moment physicality?

From my point of view, in 99% of the cases, the answer is no. I am defining "a casual hookup" as having sex or any sexual encounter beyond good old-fashioned making out with someone whom you have no mutual emotional connection or established relationship with. It's the guy you just met who is super cute, confident and ultra-flirty. He says things to you that sound so good you intuitively know he's had a lot of practice saying them to other girls. Or the guy you may have known for a while who only texts you to see if you want to "hang" but has never asked you out on a real date. Or the guy who you've had a major crush on despite the fact that he is unavailable in some way but you just cannot deny the chemistry. Or it could even be the guy you've been on a couple dates with and by now feel obligated to "put out" more.

Most women are not able to have casual hookups without getting their hearts involved or having any follow up expectations. Why?

Let's start with basic biology. When we have any kind of physical exchange with a guy from cuddling to having sex, we release the bonding hormone oxytocin. When we release oxytocin, we start to feel more emotionally bonded to whomever triggered it. If you think you are totally capable of having a meaningless romp or really aren't into the guy, oxytocin may change everything! Even if you really have no interest in seeing him again, chances are you still will want to hear from him just to have proof that it wasn't totally meaningless. And if you had any interest in him pre hook-up, oxytocin will leave you longing for more. You will probably be checking your phone incessantly the next day for a text with a winky face and find yourself distracted by thoughts of him. This is painfully natural.

Our desire to connect emotionally is amplified when we have connected physically because of the hormonal change in our brain AND because we are emotional creatures -- which is something to be cherished, celebrated and respected!

When a woman engages in a casual sexual encounter and does not ask for what she wants, stop what she doesn't want or feels rejected in any way, she is likely to experience what I call a post-hookup hangover. This hangover stems from having a surge of bonding hormones pumping through your body without having anyone to bond to. You may feel disappointment, sadness, anger, guilt and/or shame because a ton of oxytocin has been released without any kind of emotional connection present with the other person to be a container for it.

I've heard a lot of "day after" stories. I see a lot of pain and upset around feeling rejected after being so vulnerable, and anytime you get naked with someone, you are vulnerable! If you relate to this, I want to tell you that you didn't do anything wrong. Regret and self-criticism are only going to make you feel worse.

Women who are consciously walking on a spiritual path (like you!) are even more susceptible to the post-hookup hangover. When we work to become more aware, we become more open and connected. A large part of our spiritual growth is about taking down the walls that have perpetuated a sense of disconnection. We naturally become more sensitive and our ability to check out decreases. So, if you do feel more open and expansive, it is very likely that you are going to feel a desire to connect on an emotional level with the person that you are connecting with on a physical level. Physical and sexual intimacy can be an amazing part of our spiritual life if we approach it consciously and choose to engage with people that are willing and able to meet us at the level we are at. Otherwise, it can just feel empty and meaningless and honestly, is it really worth it?

Perhaps you draw the line at having casual sex, but consider whether drawing it even sooner could be an act of self-love and self-honoring. Rethink your boundaries and consider how your choices with men are affecting you and contributing to the type of men you are attracting. The next time you are about to get horizontal with someone, please ask yourself these things:

1. Am I just doing this because I think it's time to or because he seems really into me and I don't want him to lose interest?

2. Am I doing this hoping it leads to a relationship?

3. Am I engaging in a casual hookup to prove something to myself or someone else?

4. What are my boundaries and do I state them and honor them?

5. Am I doing things that I really don't want to do or don't feel good?

6. Am I allowing him to lead and maneuver through a bunch of moves rather than really being in tune with me/my body?

7. Am I more focused on performing or pleasing him rather than on my own physical pleasure?

8. Will I be totally OK and not disappointed AT ALL if I don't hear from him tomorrow or ever again?

Be honest with yourself. I totally get that when hormones start firing (and especially if you add any kind of alcohol into the mix), your mind is not always that clear. Trust that the guy who is truly your match will go at your pace. Please discard any limiting beliefs that there is some "putting out" timeline that you are supposed to adhere to other than your own inner voice. Wait for the guy who takes you out on real dates, asks you questions about your life and remembers that you really love Diet Dr. Pepper.

All that said.... there are two conditions in which casual hooking up could be possible without the hangover:

The first is when a woman is 100% comfortable and empowered in her own sexuality, totally asks for what she wants and honors her boundaries, has zero expectations and is not looking for a relationship of any kind. The second is when the guy is WAY more into her than she is into him. If a woman feels smothered by a guy she does not really like all that much, she is more likely to chalk it up to a good time and move on. Both of these situations are rare. More often, I see women regretting casual hookups when they attempted to convince themselves they were OK with it (when they weren't).

Ladies, your body is sacred and your sexuality is an extension of your Spirit. Both are here for you to enjoy and express in ways that feel nourishing and pleasurable. Your heart is connected to your sexuality, so when you open yourself up sexually, know that you are putting your sweet, loving and tender heart on the line. My encouragement to you is to explore ways to experience sensuality and express your sexuality in ways that don't make you feel bad about yourself! Have fun, date, flirt and make a commitment to be self-honoring and authentic when it comes to hooking up.

If you are experiencing a hookup hangover:

1. Forgive yourself and stop judging yourself. Navigating the waters of love and sex can be treacherous, so go easy on yourself!
2. Write in your journal what you learned from the experience and how it is helping you to clarify what you really want
3. Create some hooking up guidelines that honor what is true for you that can be your compass as you move forward horizontally ;)

Take the reigns of your sexuality back into your own hands and enjoy a ride that feels more in alignment with the Truth of who you are and the kind of intimacy you want to share with someone.

I'd love for you to share your thoughts and experiences on this topic in the comments below.

p.s. I invite you to make a very self-honoring choice and learn how to fully step into your feminine power, sexuality and call in a heart-aligning relationship. Join me in Mexico for an exclusive retreat on love and relationships. Details here.