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Can you explain male psychology to me? What am I doing wrong?

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The question

Can you explain male psychology to me? This always happens: I date a guy for a month or so, we sleep together, and things change. I feel powerless, and it soon falls apart. Do I need to get him to commit before we sleep together? What's the deal?

The answer

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Yikes – it is going to take much more than a 400-word column to explain the intricacies of male psychology.

In all seriousness, there are consistent and predictable differences between men and women in terms of their approach to relationships, and their emotional reactions and connections following sexual intimacy.

Any bookstore you go into has rows and rows of books addressing the fundamental differences between men and women - for good reason. Although there are always exceptions, there is value in considering differences that show up again and again when comparing the sexes.

First, honestly ask yourself what you truly want in a relationship. You ask if you need to get a guy to commit before you sleep together, which leads me to believe you are looking for a longer term, committed, monogamous relationship.

If that is indeed what you are looking for then yes, my advice is that you have evidence of his level of commitment to the relationship before you sleep together.

Pay attention to a few things. Are you having regular contact with each other (e.g., daily or close to daily?). Do you make plans to see each other on weekends? Have you started to meet people that are important in his life (e.g., friends, family)?

If you are wanting a committed relationship, do not be shy to communicate this. A guy who is also interested in a relationship will not in the least be scared away by this. A guy who does not want a relationship will. And the behaviour that you see on his end when you bring up this topic will provide you with very useful information.

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Many women fall into the trap of thinking that if they play it "cool" and "casual" that they will somehow lure a man into wanting a relationship. Sorry, ladies: the reality is this rarely - if ever - works.

The other reality is that women tend become more emotionally connected after having sex than men do.

One of the culprits is a hormone called oxytocin (sometimes nicknamed the "cuddle hormone"). Oxtocin is released in response to breast and vaginal stimulation and after orgasm and has the emotional impact of increasing our levels of trust and making us feel more connected.

Although both women and men have this hormone, women tend to be more strongly impacted by its effects, which may explain part of why women become more strongly attached when they become sexually involved with a partner.

So, identify what your relationships wants and needs are, and ensure you and your potential partner are on the same page before you decide to take the step.

Send psychologist Joti Samra your questions at psychologist@globeandmail.com. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

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Read more Q&As from Dr. Samra.

Click here to see Q&As from all of our health experts.

The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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