How to Start Having Sex After a Breakup

Rebound sex can offer benefits after a breakup, if managed thoughtfully.

Real talk - breakups are often hard.

Even if a relationship ends mutually and on good terms, you have to adjust to life being single, and deal with a certain sense of loss. If it ends badly, there’s a whole host of other difficult emotions to deal with, anger, guilt, betrayal, disappointment and sadness.

Rebound sex can often feel like a good way to deal with these feelings, distract yourself and start moving on. Sometimes having sex with another person can be a valuable part of the healing process after a breakup. However, you can also make things worse for yourself mentally if you have sex before you’re ready, or for the wrong reasons.

As someone easing back into single life, sex absolutely does not have to be off the table; but you just have to be conscious about how you go about it. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Give Yourself Time and Space to Heal and Adjust

It might be tempting to get over a breakup quickly and not waste any more time thinking about your ex, but you’ve got to be kind to yourself.

It’s easy to judge yourself for feeling shitty, and tell yourself you’re not supposed to feel a certain way or even feel anything at all. It’s okay to want to move on, but you need to do so with kindness.

So double down on your self-care and ensure you do the things that make you feel good. Spend time with friends and family, eat balanced meals, exercise, sleep well, meditate, and re-establish your own routine.

Sex can be very therapeutic (hello endorphins!) and help you reconnect with your body, and other people, but you shouldn’t rely on it as a quick fix. It can be one of the many methods of self-care that will help you feel better, but shouldn’t be the only one, or the “magic pill solution” to your problems.

Have Sex for the Right Reasons

Rebound sex can seem like a fun distraction, but it might not be a good idea if you find yourself using it to escape dealing with your emotions (and it may be a red flag if you primarily have sex when drunk and then regret it the following day). Having sex after a breakup should also not be about getting back at your ex.

Sex should be about reconnecting with your sexuality outside of your previous relationship, and re-discovering parts of your sexuality that you may have lost in that time.

I believe that once you’re feeling more healed, it can also be a great time to try something new sexually.

I often guide my coaching clients to experience a sexual renaissance after the end of a bad relationship, and it can be empowering for them to realise that their sex drive or sexuality wasn’t broken but rather it was just being trapped in a context that wasn’t working for them.

Check-In with Yourself

It’s normal to feel lonely, lost, betrayed, and confused in the period following your breakup. Accept those feelings and understand that it’s just your mind adjusting to, and making sense of, the new changes in your life.

When we’re stressed or upset, we often carry these emotions in our body, so its about listening to what our body is trying to tell us. If you feel nauseous, shaky or have a gnawing in the pit of your stomach when thinking about sex with someone new that goes beyond the regular nerves, it may not be the best idea for you right now.

If you get in a position where things are heating up with someone new, step away for a few minutes to check in with yourself that you’re having fun and are excited about this new situation, and not thinking about your last relationship in a way that brings uncomfortable thoughts.

Manage Your Expectations & Set Up Boundaries

After having sex with a new person, you may find yourself expecting romance and affection, but remember, this is someone new who won’t know you (or necessarily treat you) like your ex.

You may feel a need to cuddle more than you would normally because you want the physical reassurance, but try to be conscious of what you’re doing post-sex.

You should also avoid comparing anyone new to your ex while you’re having sex. Not only will this completely take you out of the moment, but it’s also unfair for your new partner as it creates a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety to be compared with an ex.

You need to set up healthy boundaries — we can feel attached to new people sooner after a breakup than we would normally. This then means we take it personally or feel rejected when feelings aren’t reciprocated.

If you find yourself making a new connection with someone, be upfront about the fact you’ve recently gotten out of a relationship and need to take things slow.

Consider Having Sex with Yourself

Sexual gratification isn’t just something you can get from someone else; you should be able to get it alone, too. Solo orgasms are just as therapeutic as ones with a partner.

If you’re not a regular masturbator, this may be a good way to reconnect with yourself, and remind yourself that you can give yourself pleasure without always relying on a partner!

If you’re finding it difficult to motivate yourself, get a new sex toy to make it new and exciting.

Choose Your Lovers Wisely

This is particularly important if the breakup has knocked your confidence — jumping on an app and connecting with the first person who seems interested may set you up for further pain.

Instead, select a lover who desires you, is respectful of your boundaries, understands your situation and meets your needs. Ideally, this person should be someone who you feel comfortable with and with whom you’ve already built a level of trust.

Maybe you could approach that friend you’ve always fancied, an ex-fling who you’ve kept in touch with, or that person you date occasionally and have fun with, but don’t see a relationship on the cards.

Remember, you know yourself better than anyone. While some people find one-night-stands empowering, you’re taking a bigger chance of things going wrong, so tread carefully.

Focus on Personal Growth

Regardless of the circumstances of your breakup, a previous relationship usually holds many invaluable lessons about your relationship choices, strengths, weaknesses and values. A good question to ask yourself is what you learned about yourself from your previous relationship.

Growth means something different to everyone, so take some time to consider what it means to you. Maybe you want to start a new creative project, get a new physique, or take a class — anything that strengthens your self-worth.

One possibility is to sign up for the Talking About Sex Made Easy programme. This is an online course for people who want to overcome the awkwardness around talking about sex and become more confident sexual communicators. This can be a great option for anyone who is ready to open up sexually and who needs to negotiate their boundaries carefully, particularly those who have just gotten out of a relationship.

Talking About Sex Made Easy Online Course
Talking About Sex Made Easy Online Course
Talking About Sex Made Easy Online Course

Finally, Trust Your Gut

There is no right or wrong way to have sex after a breakup; each person is different, and you know what feels comfortable for you.

Every breakup is different and causes us to act in different ways, so don’t expect to react the same way each time. When it comes to post-breakup sex, you and your partner(s) must be comfortable, respect and trust each other, and the sex must make you feel good.

Having said that, your sense of self-worth should come from you. No matter your relationship status, it’s important that you feel good about yourself, even when you’re not having regular sex!

If you find yourself struggling to make the right decisions or are worried about how you’re going to have sex with someone new after a long, committed relationship, a sex coach like myself can help. If you need extra support, find out more about my coaching packages as I’d love to support you through this challenging time.

Sara Tang is a certified sex coach and educator. She believes sex is a skill everyone can learn, and wants to help people get better in bed.

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