Sex After a Breakup

Sex after a break up

Sex after a break up: Going through a breakup can be difficult for several reasons.  However, just because a relationship ends does not mean that one’s needs instantly go away.  The person will likely want to have new sexual partners.  However, knowing when to have sex after a breakup can be challenging, and fortunately, this article with help bring you some clarity.


Is There a Bad Time to Have Sex After a Breakup?

As you read this article, you may be asking yourself if there is a bad time to have sex after a breakup.  While there is no universal, objective time to have sex, there is a personal, subjective moment for you.  Ultimately, there can be perceived positives and negatives of having sex after a breakup, and this article is going to help you experience more of the former than the latter.  First, let’s discuss what the positives and negatives actually are.


Positives with Sex After a Breakup

When speaking of the positives of sex after a breakup, it’s important to keep in mind their subjectivity.  These examples may not be positive for you, which is completely fine.  That being said, one common benefit of sex after a breakup is simply having your sexual needs met.  Many people are still going to have sexual desire, despite the turmoil of a breakup.  Having that sexual need met can provide some joy.  It can even provide a healthy distraction from the breakup.  Similarly, sexual exploration can be another benefit of sex after the end of a relationship.  Whether it’s how, where, or whom they have sex with, some people can (un)consciously fall into a rigid, sexual routine (e.g., only having missionary sex on Tuesday nights).  Being single can make it easy to break free of that rigidity.  Additionally, feeling desired or attractive to others may reignite one’s self-esteem.  Simply put, it can feel great to feel wanted.   However, it’s important to know that not everyone wants nor needs sex following the end of a relationship.  Just as how there are positives to sex after a breakup, there can be negatives.


Negatives with Sex After a Breakup

As mentioned earlier, sex can be a great, healthy distraction from the woes of a breakup.  At the same time, if the person isn’t careful, sex can go from a distraction to numbing.  Specifically, a person could use sex to consistently ignore the pain of ending a relationship, as well as the ability to properly heal and process it.  One way to conceptualize this is to think of alcohol.  If a person is extremely unhappy with their job, having one drink during the week isn’t an issue.  However, drinking heavily every other day would be an unhealthy way to deal with the stressors of the job.  

Another potential negative of sex after a breakup is rebounding.  This article defines rebounding as the process of unconsciously entering one relationship to deal with the pain of the previous one.  The essential part of the definition is that the motivation isn’t overt.  For some people, having sex can be tied with emotions, which can then be tied with attachment.  Simply put, if the person isn’t mindful with where they’re at, sex can lead to a rebound, which is different from intentionally entering a relationship.  Rebounding can stifle proper healing of the past relationship, while intentionally entering a relationship can be a useful tool for healing.  With all of this being said, how can you have more of the benefits of sex after a breakup, and less of the detriments?


Mindful Sex 

Mindful sex is being aware or present of one’s sexual pleasure, desire, and motivations.  Essentially, mindful sex is insightful sex.  The person is in the driver’s seat and is consciously directing where their sexual expression goes.  Here are some examples.

  • Deliberately engaging in casual sex on a Friday night
  • Being in the moment during sex/not disassociating 
  • Actively choosing to be in a friends with benefits dynamic
  • Not feeling guilty or ashamed of one’s sexual actions
  • Sexually experimenting in a way that interests you
  • Feeling comfortable with solo sex
  • Checking in with yourself before consenting to sex
  • Knowing that you’re not ready to have sex with another person yet


Additionally, there are benefits with being present and intentional with one’s sexual expression.  For instance, mindful sex reduces the likelihood of numbing and unwanted rebounding.  This is because mindful sex allows the person to have the sexual experiences that they truly want.  Once again, distractions and intentionally entering a new relationship are different than numbing and rebounding.  Leaving a relationship can be a wound, and we all heal in different ways.  Being mindful, however, allows you to consciously heal in the way that’s right for you.


Assessing Your Needs

To reiterate, intentionality and awareness are key components of mindful sex.  Mindful sex allows you to make the decisions that you want.  To help ascertain your needs, answer the following questions.

  • How emotionally available am I to enter another relationship?
  • Which relationship structure would feel the worst for me right now?
  • Do I even want to have sex right now?
  • If I were to enter a new relationship today, how healthy would the foundation be?
  • Am I looking for sexual pleasure, or do I want companionship, support, or something else?
  • I would be most comfortable with which relationship structure (e.g., singlehood, monogamy, casual sex, friends with benefits)?
  • How often do I pair sex with feelings?
  • What is the last thing that I want right now?
  • Right now, how important is partnered sex to me?
  • Do I have sexual needs that solo sex can’t cover?


Take time and answer these questions as honestly as you can.  The results can shine light into what you currently want and/or need right now.  Furthermore, once you have ascertained your needs, you’ll likely have an idea on when to have sex after a breakup.  For instance, if you are a person who usually becomes attached to whom you have sex with, and you know that you’re not interested in a committed relationship, it could be beneficial to postpone partnered sex for some time.  Conversely, if you know that you are solely looking for sexual pleasure and are good at upholding boundaries, you’re likely in a good place to have sex after your breakup.

Ultimately, there is no universal, objective time to have sex after a breakup.  Only you know when you’re in a good spot to have sex again.  This level of awareness is critical because it helps you experience the positives of having sex post breakup, while reducing numbing, rebounding, and other unwanted consequences.  Reflect on your romantic and sexual needs, and allow that to guide your sexual timeline.  If you need additional help with ascertaining your needs, schedule a session with a therapist online at