Sex and Dating after Divorce

Why you should date around – but not sleep around – after divorce.

By John Gray, Ph.D.
Updated: June 22, 2016
Mars and Venus: Advice from John Gray

At least for a period of time, divorce may alter your view of sex – particularly if sex was withheld for any reason, or the demise of the relationship was precipitated by infidelity or a lack of passion.

Now that you're single again, will you be afraid of sex? You shouldn't be. At the same time, you shouldn't push yourself to have sex until you're certain that your reasons for doing so are the right ones. For example:

  1. You no longer mourn your last relationship. When your heart is finally free of hurt or anger toward your ex, you'll know that you are ready for emotional intimacy and to enjoy passion once again. Getting to this point may be a journey in itself, but it is a necessary step if your are to get on with the rest of your life.

  2. Your interest in your new partner is more than just physical. Your first attachment to your new partner should be emotional. It should encompass such traits as love, respect, trust, and passion. If all four of these traits are in place, then, by all means, you're ready for physical intimacy again.

  3. Your partner has demonstrated these same traits toward you. Again, let these four traits – love, respect, trust, and passion – be the prerequisite for your next relationship. If your partner readily demonstrates these toward you, then he/she is worthy of your intimacy and your love.

But consider the other side of the issue. Here are four reasons not to have sex with potential partners:

Reason #1: You want revenge on your ex.

"Aha! That will teach you!" If you think that having sex with other partners will bring your ex running back or hurt him/her, you're wrong! If your ex has moved on with his/her life, your ex won't care about your conquests. Besides, why should you care what he/she thinks? Your ex has moved on into a new life, and so should you.

Reason #2: You feel that sex will help you keep emotional intimacy at bay.

Sex is not a weapon you should use to punish yourself for past mistakes. Nor you should use it to punish others for your pain. In most cases, the people who are attracted to you and are willing to make love to you are expecting your love and respect in return. If you are not ready or willing to match sexual desire with emotional intimacy, then be honest with potential partners and hold off on sex until you're doing it for the right reasons.

Reason #3: You're hoping that sex will create more emotional intimacy.

When you make love, many physical changes take place. In fact, lovemaking opens you up to emotional intimacy. Still, if you're not prepared to validate these emotions with such positive thoughts as respect and trust and love, then you're likely to push away the person who has brought these feelings to the surface. You will fight your feelings because you have not yet healed the hurt from your last relationship.

Reason #4: You feel that lovemaking will move a new relationship more quickly toward exclusivity.

Moving a new relationship immediately toward sex will not by any means guarantee a happy, long-term relationship. Nor will it make your new partner fall in love with you. In fact, it may hurt your chances of a successful relationship because it may push the relationship toward a physical intimacy prior to your ability or readiness to truly experience a trusting relationship with this new partner. Are you willing to chance that? Instead, hold off until you are sure you've moved beyond the pain from your recent break-up, and are willing to make a commitment to love and trust again.

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By John Gray, Ph.D.| May 28, 2008

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