When it comes to dating and communication between guys and girls, there’s so much emphasis on what to say to get a woman into bed that a crucial element often gets overlooked: what to say after you’ve done the deed. Even if you’re merely counting the six seconds you think you need to wait before pretending to be surprised by the time and making excuses about your big meeting early the next morning, you have to say something to fill the gap, right?

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Yes, plenty of modern women are just as able to use you like a piece of meat as you are to use them. But there are lots of others clamoring to be comforted a bit.

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The greatest difference between the genders when it comes to post-coital conversation is that, well, women often want to have it and men often do not. If the situation is somewhat happenstance—you’re not a couple and the sex you just had was more of the hook-up variety—you may well be dealing with a woman who wants reassurance. (Even if you are a couple, this still may hold true.) Yes, plenty of modern women are just as able to use you like a piece of meat as you are to use them. But there are lots of others clamoring to be comforted a bit.

What do they want to be comforted about, you ask? Not what you would want to be comforted about, if you were in their stilettos. They do not need to hear how great they were in the sack, for instance. They just want to know that you don’t consider them simply the nearest receptacle for your semen—in other words, that you respect them.

A male friend of mine—let’s call him Michael—says that he ends his romantic sojourns by looking into the woman’s eyes and telling her how amazing the sex was. While he says he gets no complaints and he does indeed seem to do well with the ladies, he sounds like a d-bag. Men are better off talking about the woman rather than the sex. And a specific comment is going to go a lot further than a generic one.

“When a guy says ‘You’re so hot’ afterwards, it just sounds insincere,” says my friend Beth. But Beth has heard much worse. Like the guy who waited roughly 1.5 seconds before asking, “Now that that’s done, can we go back to watching Charlie Rose?” That’s pretty much the moment she knew their two-month relationship was done.

Don’t mind us, just picking up the HIMYM thread here…

Another unfortunate post-sex phrase—courtesy of my friend Amy—is: “Nobody can know about this. It cannot get back to my wife.” Obviously there’s a lot that’s less-than-pleasant at stake when getting involved with married men, but being reminded of the guilt you should both be feeling before you’ve even had a chance to enjoy the afterglow isn’t ideal.

One more post-sex phrase that’s both popular and ill-advised is the pesky question “Did you orgasm?” The truth is, most women are going to let you in on their orgasm—you’ll hear about it, one way or another. Meaning they are never going to answer this question with, “Yes, I did—a few times, actually. I just didn’t feel like giving you any physical indication of it or telling you.” So yeah, if you have to ask, the answer’s probably no.

So that leaves the crucial question: what should you say after sex? “Women want reassurance and enthusiasm without it being overwhelming,” says another friend, who asked not to be identified, and I’m guessing that’s because he added, “What men want is to hear the door closing behind them.” Let’s call him Frank. “Men shouldn’t make grandiose statements about the meaning of it all,” Frank notes. “They should just try to say something nice and simple and not go into some diatribe about themselves. This isn’t the moment for a guy to start confiding in a woman about his old police record.”

While I don’t sign off on all of Frank’s insights, I do agree that casual, comforting conversation can go a long way. Maybe it’s asking the woman what she’d normally be doing at this time or if she wants a glass of water or tea. Maybe it’s telling her that lying next to her feels nice or asking if she’s tired. Whatever it is, make sure you demonstrate you see and appreciate her, that you know she could be in a lot of different places at that moment, but she’s chosen to be there with you. And hey, if she takes you up on the water or tea, it gives her something to do while you explain about your big, early meeting…