If a couple are having a romantic or sexy get away where they're staying in bed and having sex and otherwise hanging out - is there a term use for the periods where they're not actually in the act of having sex?

Perhaps pillow talk is the closest term I can think of here - but this seems to refer to the act of just talking, whereas I'd like to encompass anything else they might do - like eating, watching TV etc.


During [something period] we had a tickle fight, I organised my to do list, and she knitted some socks.

I'm looking for something you might use in a romance or sexy novel.

  • 8
    Sleep is in common use. Jun 28, 2015 at 21:56
  • 6
    Refractory period might work.
    – ermanen
    Jun 28, 2015 at 22:05
  • @ermanen I think that's suitable as an answer. While it might not be used literally, it certainly conveys the meaning expressed.
    – dwjohnston
    Jun 28, 2015 at 22:06
  • 7
    How about "getting an engineering degree"? No sex happening, there. Jun 28, 2015 at 22:09
  • 4
    maybe ... down-time?
    – user98990
    Jun 28, 2015 at 22:20

7 Answers 7


You can consider refractory period.

In human sexuality, the refractory period is usually the recovery phase after orgasm during which it is physiologically impossible for a man to have additional orgasms.

Though it is generally reported that women do not experience a refractory period and can thus experience an additional orgasm (or multiple orgasms) soon after the first, some sources state that both men and women experience a refractory period because women may also experience a moment after orgasm in which further sexual stimulation does not produce excitement.


OED has a gender-neutral definition:

Psychol. a period after orgasm during which further sexual arousal or orgasm is difficult or impossible.

  • This is the biological phenomenon, but I think the question is asking after the social phenomenon— talking, spooning, etc. To call this the refractory period would be rather clinical.
    – choster
    Jun 29, 2015 at 13:55

In a novel I've read, I've come across the word "afterglow" used in the context of post-orgasmic contentment. I thought it was an excellent non-technical euphemism for this as opposed to a dry clinical phrase like "refractory period".

The word afterglow is defined by Merriam-Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/afterglow) as:

afterglow noun af·ter·glow \ˈaf-tər-ˌglō\

: a glowing light remaining in the sky after the sun has set

: a happy feeling that remains after a successful or emotional event

and we're closest to the second meaning here.

It doesn't necessarily imply the partners are going to go at it again (as in an interlude between bouts of intercourse - which you seemed to imply in your question), but I still think it's the best literary word for what you want to express.

  • 1
    Nice word but afterglow doesn't define the period. It is just a feeling.
    – ermanen
    Jun 29, 2015 at 16:24
  • @ermanen Strictly, it defines the feeling, but it can also be used to refer to a state of mind, and therefore imply the period that a person is in that state of mind. For example, "anticipation" is a feeling, but one can say "He was waiting in happy anticipation." Here, the use of the word "anticipation" tacitly refers to the state of anticipation, and since being in a state has to be over an interval of time, it also defines an interval of a person being in that state. "Afterglow" may be similarly used.
    – Deepak
    Jun 30, 2015 at 0:15

"Postcoitus" is a bit odd, very clinical and only works for a brief period of time immediately after sexual intercourse. Since it is a technical term, it is worth noting that the formative word, "Coitus" strictly refers to the act that involves union of both male and female genitalia. Considering the preceding factors, it applications may be of limited use in amorous writing. However, excepting the adjective form "Postcoital", it is the only such word I can bring to mind now that uncompromisingly refers to the period after the act and nothing else.

The above reference links are to the The Free Dictionary by Farlex, which cites:

postcoitus/coitus. (n.d.) The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary. (2007)

postcoital. (n.d.) Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged. (1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003)

  • Postcoitus definitley sounds like something Sheldon Cooper would say while discussing sex with Leonard.
    – Fiksdal
    Sep 30, 2016 at 18:50

You might call it "the recovery period"

In medicine, after intense physical activity, it's the period of time needed for the heart to slow down and the blood pressure return to normal levels. Applied to sexual activity, it might be the period of time between the last orgasm and the moment both partners feel like getting into action again.


Assuming it was steamy passionate sex, a metaphorical use of cool down:

  1. Fig. to reduce someone's passion or love. (Reducing the "heat" of passion.)

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs

After three hot rounds of mad passionate sex, they decided to get dressed and cool down with a round of golf.


How about inter-coital periods? i.e. between the (multiple) acts of coitus.

  • Technically correct, but it's a technical sounding term, whereas I'm looking for something you could use in a romance novel. (Actually, now that I think about it, you probably could use it in a romance novel).
    – dwjohnston
    Jun 29, 2015 at 21:01

Why not just say 'in between'?

In between, we had a tickle fight, I organised my to do list, and she knitted some socks.

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