We all have our own way of processing an emotional breakup. You might binge on watching sad movies, seek solace in a bottle of wine or lots of chocolate, or you might even hit the town hoping to jump into the sack with someone who will make you forget about your ex — which could actually be the most damaging.
While the appeal of rebound sex is easy enough to devise — it’s one of the few things you can control at this tumultuous time — it’s not always a move in a positive direction, according to Lou Paget, sexologist and author of How to Be a Great Lover. Before crossing this moving-on milestone, she suggests asking yourself the following 5 questions:
1. How will I feel later?
In the moment, sexual advances can be exhilarating and bring an instant boost of self-esteem. But those good vibes don’t always stick around after the act, so you should take a moment to ask yourself if sex is a good idea. “Before you do anything, ask yourself how you’ll feel afterward,” advises Paget. “Listen to your little voice. It can’t lie.”
2. What does “sex” mean to me?
Sex is not always classified as the act of intercourse itself. It can even mean heavy body contact depending on the person. Before getting in a situation where any of those activities could happen, decide your own limits and how far you’re willing to go.
3. What is my personality type?
Some people can handle the ramifications of rebound sex with ease. Others, not so much. Paget warns that people who consider themselves clingy, control types, angry drunks, or those with revenge in mind should avoid rebound sex altogether. “Rebound sex shouldn’t be about revenge,” she says. “You also want to consider that the rebound person may be your perfect partner but you started the physical on the wrong track, and it never has a chance.”
4. Am I sexually healthy?
The end of a relationship is a good time to have a physical and be sure that everything is healthy and safe in the sexual department. People in monogamous relationships may also be in the habit of avoiding protection, which is a mentality that needs to change when rebound sex presents itself. “Take care of your interests first,” advises Paget. “Be honest about your sexual health.”
5. Why am I choosing this person?
Often rebound sex takes the form of a person you already know – like an ex. This type of rebound sex can be especially problematic because it makes each person mistake comfort for ‘good’ sex. “It may feel special for a weekend, but not long term,” says Paget. And when alcohol or other substances are involved, it can be particularly difficult to determine if this is the right choice or just convenient.
6. Have I made peace with the end of my relationship?
Breakup wounds take a while to heal but if you find that the thought of your ex makes you extremely emotional (sad, angry, or otherwise), you’re not ready to move on. “Unless you’ve looked at your part of the ‘ending,’ you’ll bring 50 percent of why it ended into a new connection,” said Paget.
Above all, remember that even rebound sex gone bad doesn’t mean you’re a failure or destined to be alone. “Treat yourself gently and don’t overthink things,” says Paget. “Practice being a beginner because you are again, and beginners aren’t expected to know everything.”