Have you ever found yourself lying in bed with someone, cuddling and talking after sex? Maybe your head is on their chest, and you're both still a little sweaty. The conversation is sweet and you find yourself compelled to tell them the most embarrassing story from your childhood. Where did that come from? you might wonder. It turns out that you have science to thank for all the postcoital oversharing you've ever engaged in.
Sex and intimacy build a sense of trust, and trust encourages self-disclosure. We're willing to tell someone about the time we accidentally flashed our entire third grade class because we trust them to keep our secret, to express empathy, to be non-judgmental with our secrets and shames. A new study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (and titled "Sex unleashes your tongue," which I suppose is true both literally and figuratively speaking) looked at whether sexually suggestive images and ideas could lead to people engaging in behaviours that foster non-sexual closeness and intimacy. Essentially, does sex bring people closer together? The answer was yes, and one of the key intimacy-building behaviours the study looked at was self-disclosure.
The new findings were a compilation of the results of three different studies that examined this phenomenon, all of which had the same outcome. In each study, when people were exposed — consciously or unconsciously — to sexual stimuli (a sex scene from a movie, for example), they were more likely to disclose an embarrassing person story to a potential partner than people who were exposed to neutral stimuli. This self-disclosure is a strategy to bring people closer together and foster intimacy in a budding relationship, increasing the chances that the couple will bond and remain connected for some period.
What does this mean for you? The next time you accidentally blurt out, "I love you" after some super hot sex with a new partner, you can blame it on science.