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High-Fives and Thank Yous: Men on Their Go-To Post-Sex Pleasantries

What’s the best way to capture the sheer excitement and gratitude of a just-concluded roll in the hay?

Last week, Marin concluded some of the best sex she’s had recently when her partner rolled over, reached his hand into the air and offered up a high five. “We were catching our breaths, and he just stuck his hand up like he wanted to high five. I’d never had that happen before,” she says, “so at first I was confused and just kind of froze and said, ‘A high five!?!?’” 

Marin’s partner, still hanging, was too winded to respond, so he simply smiled and nodded yes. “I high fived back, and we both cracked up. It was charming.” 

She says all her previous post-sex pleasantries were just the “usual quiet cuddling,” and the high five kept this guy on her mind for a few days afterward. “But more importantly, it proved there was some chemistry there,” she explains (they had met on a dating app, with no expectations of anything more).

Arguably, the first pregnancy that happens in the aftermath of sexual relations is the pause immediately after orgasm. Some guys, perhaps used to simply closing their laptops and staring at the ceiling in shame for 10 minutes, are lost. Others, like Marin’s partner, opt for sheer excitement and gratitude. “I high five my gf after sex all the time, it’s a team effort,” writes redditor big_red_160. “I may or may not have said ‘thank you’ once or twice,” bemoans another, adding that he received a laugh and an “Uhh, you’re welcome?” in return. One woman in the same thread even reported getting “two thumbs up” after sex the previous night. 

Clearly, some post-sex etiquette needs to be established — or at the very least, we need a ruling on all those high fives, thank yous and thumbs up. And so, I reached out to a few guys who consider themselves masters of post-sex pleasantries for advice. 

According to Max, a 47-year-old in the U.K. who claims he’s hooked up with “hundreds” of women, a post-coital high five isn’t the worst thing. In fact, it “can be considered quite cool… if initiated by the girl!” He advises men to not “go fishing for a high five,” but in his experience, the context and personality of your partner could call for it. “After all, it’s a compliment,” he explains. If you recognize that it could make her laugh or break the tension, “I don’t see a high five as being an issue.” 

That said, don’t make it your go-to move. It can very easily be communicated as the same gesture you’d give your buddy after an earth-shattering fart, which wouldn’t be good. “Everything is relative dependent upon the situation and type of sex,” Max says. Basically, some post-sex pleasantries can be read as too intimate, or like the high five, too trivial. But if it’s a one-night stand where neither party is looking for a return engagement, Max continues, “a high five wouldn’t be totally blasphemous, and a simple ‘thank you’ would be acceptable.” 

“Acceptable,” however, feels like the lowest bar possible. So what’s the most-encouraged post-hookup behavior?

Per Max, you can’t go wrong with cuddling, holding and gentle kissing. “Women generally love to be held,” he explains. But silence can be awkward, too, so try to “whisper compliments like, ‘That was amazing, you were just awesome tonight,’ as well.” 

Marin agrees. From a female’s perspective, she says, “thank yous aren’t expected but they’re nice. You should be thankful that someone is getting you off. I’ve had guys thank me like, ‘thanks for last night’ or ‘thanks, I needed that,’ and it’s always nice to be appreciated.” 

Twenty-four-year-old Karl, among r/sex’s top commenters, puts his own twist on his after-sex thank yous. “I don’t say the exact phrase ‘thank you’ because it feels a bit generic to me. Instead, I’ll enthusiastically point out what I enjoyed the most about what just happened,” he explains. “Things like, ‘Your moans were so sexy,’ ‘You should have seen how hot your face looked’ and ‘You were shaking so hard.’” He feels like this type of communication makes his partners feel great about themselves, “which usually translates into even better sex.” He also does as much showing as telling: “I like to peck the pussy as well, just a little kiss to show thanks. Then I lay my head sideways on her mound as if it were a pillow.” 

“It’s this feeling of a cozy embrace, and most girls I’ve done it with have said they feel it’s very intimate as well,” he continues. He does admit, however, that one woman told him that he “had mommy issues and wanted to go back to the womb.” 

Max also concedes, “For regular relationship sex, full of passion and desire, a sensual kiss, a hug or even passing some wipes over the bed or grabbing a towel would be a far more romantic ending than a high five or ‘thanks.’” Or even better, ditch the script all together and go with whatever feels right to you in the moment (judgment be damned): “Just say and do whatever your urges tell you. Don’t inhibit yourself, don’t be ashamed, let it out.” 

Or as Marin says, “People should be able to have fun and not take sex so seriously. Being able to laugh goes a long way.” 

Whatever you do, though, DO NOT roll over and fall asleep, Max warns. “To drift off into slumber together is both beautiful and blissful, but if a guy shoots, scores and sleeps, it’s downright disrespectful,” he says. Especially, he adds, if you’ve left her “hanging.” Because then, “she has more work to do to herself while you snore next to her.”