Do Guys Catch Feelings After Hooking Up?

Love and Romance | | , Culture & Relationships Writer
do guys catch feelings after hooking up

When I asked my friend, Ash, “Do guys catch feelings after hooking up?”, he tried to avoid the question. I could understand that he didn’t want to be perceived as someone who’d get emotionally attached after hooking up. Especially, when hypermasculine cultural norms expect men to behave like players. When I persisted, he said, “I may catch feelings in a casual relationship, but it’s never just because of sex.”

Valid point. Modern relationships have matured enough to differentiate between sex and love. But what happens when you develop feelings and he doesn’t? That’s when things can get complicated, especially if you see him regularly and can’t figure out if he has feelings for you. So let’s figure out what do guys think about their hookups. We hope it will offer you some clarity about how a special someone feels about you. 

What Makes A Man Develop Feelings For A Woman?

When do guys catch feelings after hooking up? I’ve asked this question to other friends, apart from Ash, as well. Most of their answers were garbled, but they all had one thing in common – the mention of a ‘spark’. 

What is this ‘spark’? They couldn’t define it, but the words they used in their attempt to describe it ranged from “hot” to “fun to talk to” and “wanted to meet her again and again”. That begets the question, where does this ‘spark’ come from, if not from sex?

Anthropologist Helen Fisher suggests three types of brain circuitry behind this:

  • Lust results from hormones and is mainly concerned with sexual gratification
  • Attraction comes from one’s preference for a mating partner
  • Attachment results from the need to stay together

Lust is one of the primal desires in human beings. Lust makes a man seek any appropriate partner for sexual gratification. But sometimes, a man may like a woman more than others. It’s because she either looks amazing or is great at conversations, and he can’t have enough of her. That’s attraction. But lust and attraction may wane over time. Attachment comes from a desire to stay together for security and social stability. It is what sustains relationships over time. The collaboration of these emotions makes a man develop feelings for a woman.

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Also noteworthy is that these neural circuits may function independently. But they often work together to create different levels of relationships. Also, these functions vary among people. So while one man may get emotionally attached after kissing, another may not. It is highly subjective, depending on the man, the woman, and the kind of chemistry they have. But when lust, attraction, and attachment work in tandem, sparks do fly.

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Do Guys Catch Feelings After Hooking Up?

To get a more objective take on the matter, I checked what guys on Reddit had to say to “Can a man sleep with a woman without developing feelings?” And most of those answers were in line with what Ash said. Men do tend to catch feelings after hookups but several factors come to play. So next time you’re wondering if your hookup likes you, keep note of the following points:

1. Mutual attraction

Research suggests that someone has a good chance of falling in love with you if they’re aware of your interest in them. This is called dyadic reciprocal liking. Ensure your hookup is aware that you like him. If you’re not comfortable expressing your feelings outright, try to do it subtly. Compliment him, smile at him, and mirror his behavior. It’s possible to sense when someone likes you. So don’t hesitate in putting yourself out there.

2. Gender stereotypes

Research suggests that women tend to view men as per the stereotypes propagated in the media. How is this relevant to the question, “Do guys catch feelings after hooking up?” Gender stereotypes propagate the belief that men should have a strong demeanor and not be over-sensitive. 

This results in a lot of men denying their feelings to conform to the conventional idea of masculinity. This is why you may find that they love to cuddle before sex but seem distant or apathetic after sex. Because often gender stereotypes create a sense of anxiety, which makes it difficult for them to express their feelings.

3. Fear of rejection

Men may also suppress their feelings fearing a lack of reciprocity. So do guys get attached after cuddling? They might. But even if they do, they’re unlikely to show it if you play too hard to get. This is why guys distance themselves after intimacy. Respond positively if you want him to acknowledge those feelings. 

4. Affection language

Research segregates the way men and women communicate in a relationship as ‘report talk’ and ‘rapport talk’. According to it, women are better at communication meant to create rapport. Meanwhile, men are better at communication focusing on issues, and problem-solving. So if your hookup likes to hang around after the night is over and tries to help you with that leaky faucet, take it as a positive sign.

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5. Good sex

During sex, levels of vasopressin rise in men, while levels of oxytocin rise in women after orgasm. These hormones are known to cause attachment and contribute to feelings of closeness after sexual intercourse. Research suggests that vasopressin in men creates a tendency to be involved in partnerships. In short, when it comes to the “do guys catch feelings after hooking up” question, good sex does count, even if it’s not the main factor.

6. Empathy makes one catch feelings in a casual relationship

Developing feelings for someone entails a lot more than just sexual chemistry. There needs to be a shared comfort level and friendly banter. You don’t always have to jump in bed, you should be able to talk to each other. Research indicates that men feel an open and meaningful conversation is the primary component of initial connection in a relationship. Men feel connected in a relationship where they can feel safe enough to be vulnerable.

7. Adequate personal space 

Space in a relationship is not an ominous sign. Space is one of the most underrated aspects when people try to gauge if someone has feelings for them. Do not be clingy or obsess about his whereabouts. Sometimes, a man may need some alone time to assess his feelings for you. It can become hard for him to introspect and acknowledge his feelings if you’re constantly shadowing him. Let him come to terms with his feelings at his own pace.

How Long Does It Take For A Man To Catch Feelings?

So do guys get attached after cuddling or develop feelings after hooking up? The answer can be very subjective and differs from person to person. It takes great compatibility and relationship chemistry to get emotionally attached after kissing or casual sex.

Research has suggested that on average, a man takes almost 3 months after getting into a romantic relationship to confess his feelings. However in the context of the question, “Do guys catch feelings after hooking up?”, this data can be influenced by several factors, such as:

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1. Similarity

Contrary to popular belief that opposites attract, research has suggested that people with similar belief systems are more likely to fall for each other. A sense of familiarity and safety can create a positive system. Try to mirror his behavior to create that environment of security.

2. Proximity

Research also values proximity as an important factor in the development of romantic feelings. If you see him every day or often enough, then he’s likely to catch feelings for you in a shorter period.

3. Relationship chemistry

Relationship chemistry defines how great your relationship is going to be when you’re not having sex. To win over a man’s affection, try to make him laugh and feel comfortable in your company. Minimize awkward silences. Try to create an engaging space for him to talk to you.

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4. Do guys think about their hookups? Gauge his interest

Can a guy kiss a girl passionately without feelings? Sometimes, yes. Therefore, it is important to note if he is interested in you romantically. If you notice that he leaves right away after sex or calls you only to have sex, he likely doesn’t have any feelings for you.

5. Past relationship traumas

Do guys catch feelings after hooking up, especially if they’re dealing with emotional baggage from previous relationships? If your hookup has suffered a heartache earlier or if you see signs he is in a rebound relationship, then he’s likely to take some time getting over his previous relationship and form new attachments.

6. Personal problems

It will also take him some time to realize that he has feelings for you if he’s going through some personal issues. Be empathetic, and try to be supportive in such cases. He may not feel comfortable enough to talk to you about his issues, but you need to communicate to him that you’re there for him if he wants to talk.

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No rule can predict when any person, man or woman, catches feelings for someone. It could happen after the first sexual contact or may take months. You may want to fool yourself into believing he has feelings for you, because can a guy kiss a girl passionately without feelings? Well, news flash to help you shake off the denial: kissing someone passionately or having sex with them is not an indicator of one’s feelings. But the more time you spend engaging with him, the more real his feelings will become for you.

Key Pointers

  • Having sex is not an indicator of one’s feelings
  • When a man finds a woman empathetic, sees similar interests, and reciprocation of his interest in her, he may catch feelings in a casual relationship
  • Guys may catch feelings but may suppress them fearing social and gender conventions
  • Developing feelings after a hookup is extremely subjective and can’t be predicted as a general statement

Casual relationships are the norm in today’s times. Sex is a natural, physical need. But intimacy is an emotional need. Emotional connections are a result of empathy and comfort in a relationship. So, do guys catch feelings after hooking up? As long as that connection is created, anyone can catch feelings in a relationship.


1. Do guys catch feelings fast?

It’s subjective to a person. This question has been laced with gender stereotypes to a point where expressing one’s feelings is thought of as anti-masculine. A man can fall for the girl he’s hooking up with. But it’s not possible to predict the duration in which this happens. Some studies narrow it down to 3 months, but this duration may vary in every relationship.

2. What do guys do when they catch feelings?

Only a few guys express their feelings in such cases. Many suppress their feelings due to gender norms around hypermasculinity. Some may do so fearing rejection. He could show signs he likes you but is afraid of rejection. React positively to these signs if you want him to express their feelings healthily.

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