Asking your partner whether they think their work stress affected their headspace while doing the deed probably isn't your idea of sexy pillow talk. But checking in after sex — whether that's half an hour after you've rolled off each other or the next morning over waffles and mimosas — does have its benefits. Even though picking up a pen and paper might be the last thing you'd think to do post-coitus, journaling after sex can give you and your partner an opportunity to make your sex life even hotter and tighten your bond.
Dr. Jess O' Reilly, resident sexologist for Astroglide, says the benefits of journaling after sex are twofold. For starters, it can help you identify your "core erotic feelings," or the emotions necessary to feel in the mood for sex. "It doesn’t mean that you want sex every time you feel this way, but in the absence of these emotions, sex is off the table," O'Reilly tells Elite Daily. "You’ll see patterns emerge with regard to how you feel before sex, and this can help you understand the emotional components of desire and openness to sex."
Once you have a written record of the emotions that get you in a frisky mood, you can make adjustments to your lifestyle, behaviors, and attitude to experience them more often, if you'd like. This can also help your partner understand you better. "Do you need to feel loved, confident, desired, relaxed, appreciated, seen, present, mindful or sexy?" O'Reilly asks. "Of course, all of these feelings sound nice, but journaling can help you identify which ones really stand out as essential to sexual desire and openness."
Second, post-sex journaling can help you figure out your "elevated erotic feelings" — the emotions that take sex to the next level for you. "You might find that sex is really hot when you feel powerful, submissive, challenged, mindful, or playful," she says. "Feelings of jealousy, inadequacy, fear, and even humiliation can be exciting in the context of a safe relationship." Like journaling about your core erotic feelings, figuring out your elevated erotic feelings can help you find concrete ways to improve your sex life.
Some questions O'Reilly recommends to get the journaling ball rolling include: What did this sexual encounter entail? How did I feel before the sexual encounter? How did I/they/we approach or initiate this encounter? How did I feel during the sexual encounter? After? What about my mood, sleep, romantic and social interactions, diet, work habits, stress levels, exercise, or other practical elements impeded or facilitated sexual desire and openness?
"Don’t overthink [these questions] to begin with. If you don’t like to write things down, use voice-to-text to let your thoughts flow freely," O'Reilly says.
If you and your partner like the idea of putting pen to paper, there are dozens of journals designed to facilitate your practice, including A Sex Journal For Couples, Love Yours: 365 Days of Q&A, and 365 Days of Kink: A Journal of Sexy Self-Discovery. Whether you're reflecting with your partner on your five-year anniversary or with a friend-with-benefits, sex journals can provide an opportunity to reflect on how you feel and what you're learning about yourself before, during, and after sex.
A Sex Journal's co-authors, Levina Li and Caleb Spaulding, created it after their own positive experiences with post-sex journaling as a couple. Li explains that designating a specific time to reflect on their sexual dynamic changed the game for them. "In sex, we have a tendency to assume we don't need [to check in]; that we're on the same page as our partners," Li tells Elite Daily. "That's actually very rare. We bring different bodies, experiences, and preferences to our sex, and all of that shapes our perspectives and what we take away."
Li says that in her own life, post-sex journaling helped spark conversations about how she and her partner could slow down and be present. Since launching A Sex Journal, she says she's received feedback from all kinds of customers — new parents, trauma survivors, people experiencing relationship shifts — about how journaling after sex has helped them better navigate their sex lives.
"I also can't tell you how many messages I get from people who think they're amazing communicators, and are shocked at how much they can discover by having a regular ritual and open space to reflect and share in," Li says.
As O'Reilly points out, most couples go all in on maintaining the romance at the beginning of their relationship. "Then, they set themselves on autopilot without formally discussing their feelings, desires, goals, and needs — until something goes wrong," she says. "By scheduling weekly or monthly check-ins, you can reduce tension, improve understanding, and nip issues in the bud before they erupt into bigger problems."
If you and your partner are curious about journaling, Li and Spaulding recommend you incorporate journaling into your aftercare and do it shortly after sex every time. But ultimately, no matter how you go about checking in — whether that's buying a sex journal, bringing it up at your standing coffee date, or cracking open the Voice Memos app — what matters is that you take the time to do so.
Levina Li, co-author of A Sex Journal for Couples