That got your attention, didn’t it?
Well, for the past few years, I’ve had a pretty committed guy in my life. Here he is, pictured with me. I lovingly call him “Panda”. (I know, very imaginative.)
Now that I’ve set the stage, you know this isn’t going to be the racy article you were expecting.
It’s more like a few pointers that I want you to consider while you’re in that very vulnerable place after a serious breakup. I’ve come across enough stories of people badly hurting themselves or others, or making terrible life decisions such as second marriages they later regret, that I want to share these insights.
Although some believe you absolutely must have shameless sex after the end of a partnership (as a tool for rediscovery and healing), and although it may work for some people, for others an unbridled move into physical intimacy can become a crutch or be ultimately damaging. I hope you’ll find an arrangement that is right for you and doesn’t distract you from doing the inner work of rebuilding yourself into a healthy individual on your own.
#1: You’re more vulnerable than you think
The authors of Not Your Mother’s Divorce explain that our judgment is shaky in the wake of a serious breakup, and we can get hurt or be hurtful because of feeling needy or very closed. This may be unavoidable but it’s important to keep in mind. In that state of unusual hunger for connection or acceptance, please remember their words:
“You are phenomenally vulnerable…For this reason, you’ll want to try to be as self-protective as possible. You may feel strong, but we promise you, this is a very cunning illusion. Once you’re beyond the early period and strong in a real way, you’ll look back and see just how off-kilter you were.”
#2: Don’t do it for the wrong reasons
Please don’t have sex with your ex’s friends as a way to get revenge against your ex. That’s just self-deconstruction and you will hate yourself for it. As per Love Hurts, you can instead do something radical, which is to “just feel hurt, without having to do something (or someone) about it.”
Also, make your break with your ex clean and say no to “breakup sex”. It wreaks havoc on your emotions and eventually you have to say goodbye again. As Getting Past Your Breakup advises, it comes with confusion and more complications. In these contexts, “[t]here is no such thing as ‘friends with benefits.’ There is only ‘friends who have no idea what they’re doing to the detriment of themselves and each other.’… If it’s dead, bury it. Don’t sleep with it.”
#3: There’s no particular way this is supposed to go
Depending on your values or your disposition, it may take time to start having sex again, and you can go as fast or as slow as you like. (Sorry :)) Or not at all. Obviously, it’s a deeply personal decision. So don’t feel worried about feeling and acting differently from others who’re in the same boat.
Not Your Mother’s Divorce suggests that in the early period there tend to be three extreme types of women (and the same is likely true of men) — somewhat aloof/asexual “ice queendom”, crazy freaky “boy mania”, or an “insta-marriage” of becoming a “wife” to a new man (who you don’t marry and may not want to either). So you see, different folks, different strokes!
On the other hand, Rebuilding When Your Relationship Ends claims that most people are initially extremely fearful of sex but later experience a horny stage in which the body tries to heal itself through sexual expression: “You are trying to overcome loneliness, to feel lovable again, to improve your self-concept, to work through some anger, to develop friendships — and all of these things are concentrated in the sexual drive.” So that’s a possibility as well.
What’s more, you can address the root causes of the horny stage by methods other than direct sexual contact, for instance by working directly on feeling good about yourself again. Sexual healing might make you feel fine, but not if it’s at the cost of learning how to be healthy and happy whether or not you have a partner in your life.
Cross-posted on Medium.com. We are dedicated to helping you connect safely and authentically with others going through romantic heartbreak. Join our waitlist to be the first to know when we launch our community offerings!