Here's How to Tell If You're Ready for Rebound Sex After a Breakup

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Having sex with a new partner for the first time soon after a breakup is fraught with a rollercoaster of feelings. It's scary, intimidating, but it can also be exciting and freeing at the same time. Bottom line is, emotions will be involved and so are the questions that come with sexual intimacy with someone new. If you're thinking, 'Should I be doing this? Am I ready for this?' Read on for experts's advice for navigating rebound sex after a breakup.

What the Research Says

Now there's actual science to go with that pervasive saying that the best way to get over someone... is to get under someone else. According to a 2014 study by the University of Missouri, rebound sex is actually a thing people do in an attempt to get over an ex-partner. The thing is, the study doesn't explain whether rebound sex actually helps or hurts the post-breakup process.

According to a number of experts, there isn't necessarily anything wrong with rebound sex, as long as you are aware of what you hope to get from it. “There are a lot of reasons people would want to have sex after a breakup, probably more positive than negative,” Patricia Rich, a licensed clinical social worker and sex therapist told The Daily Beast. Rich adds that as long it's safe and consensual, “[rebound sex] can certainly help in the healing process.” 

The Intimidation Factor

Relationships and intimacy coach Dr. Lori Beth Bisbey said in an interview with Vice that first-time sex after a breakup is a vulnerable time, and that the tendency is to want to turn that hookup into a relationship. Bisbey notes that we don't always make the wisest decisions immediately following a breakup. That said, time is probably your best course of action. “When we’re newly out of a relationship, especially a long-term one, the idea of having sex with someone else can seem very alien and intimidating,” says psychotherapist and sex therapist Vanessa Marin to Refinery29. “Give yourself time to reestablish your sense of self and build your confidence back up,” Marin said. Rebound sex comes with its own set of emotions, whether that's the desire to feel needed and attractive, or a need for distraction. These fluctuations can be a recipe for quick emotional attachment, so experts advise self-awareness to determine whether you're ready for a rebound. 

How Will I Know If I'm Ready? 

While you don't have to be in love with your next sexual partner, experts say to check-in with yourself about how you're feeling. For example, ask yourself, 'Do I feel ok with this person?' is a good place to start. At the same time, it's important to think about your relationship with sex, and consider historically whether it has empowered you to feel attractive, satisfied and positive overall, Shadeen Francis—a sex, marriage, and family therapist—told Well and Good. “If it’s safe and consensual, sex brings pleasure. And pleasure is so important after a break-up,” said Francis. Similarly, pleasure doesn't need to come solely from sex. It could come from a good workout, going out with friends, or eating a nourishing meal for example, said Francis. Francis adds, "Heartbreak is a time to discover and rediscover what is pleasurable for you—whether that’s sexual or not.”

Know Yourself, And Trust Your Instincts

When you're ready, meaning when you can think about having sex independently of what it was like with your ex-partner, said Dr. Bisbey, proceed with care. If there's something nagging at you, try to understand what's going on below the surface. Maybe you're anxious that your needs may not be met, or your rebound partner isn't the right person, said Ammanda Major, a sex and relationship expert, in an interview with Vice. "Work out what's worrying you and rationalize it. Know yourself well enough to recognize how you're really feeling," Major said.

Manage Expectations

As long as you feel good and are comfortable, rebound sex doesn't have to be perfect or a life-changing experience, said Major, who adds, "Good sex comes out of knowing yourself sexually. Just relax and enjoy it.”