Will Rebound Sex Actually Help You Move On?

Photographed by Lula Hyers.
The fastest way to get over someone is to get under someone else, right? Well... maybe. While it may work that way for some people, rebound sex isn't always a good idea, says Rena McDaniel, MEd, LCPC, a gender and sex therapist in Chicago. And, it's definitely not a necessary part of moving on.
Just like there's no one right way to have a relationship, there's no one right way to get through a breakup. So, the benefits of rebound sex for one person might be the exact thing that makes another feel worse. It all depends on the reasons you want to have rebound sex.
"If someone is giving themselves the space they need to feel their feels about the breakup, to process the relationship status change and loss of a partner, to communicate clearly to their rebound sex partner, and is able to use rebound sex as a way to reconnect with their body and their sexuality (with lots of great endorphins), then it can be a helpful part of the breakup process," McDaniel says. Essentially, you have to go into it with good intentions, not because you want to get back at your ex or prove to your friends that you're over the breakup. Instead, rebound sex should be about reconnecting with your sexuality outside of your ex-relationship.
On the flip side, rebound sex isn't a good idea if you're using it to escape your emotions, McDaniel says. "If someone is using breakup sex as a way to avoid processing their feelings or doing self-care, if they aren't being clear with their breakup sex partner about what the encounter is, or if they don't feel ready to have sex again, then rebound sex can feel depleting and empty," she says.
While you won't always know if you're having sex for the right reasons (we're human after all), McDaniel says listening to your body and how you feel before, during, and after sex can help you realize if you're ready. "If it feels good even after the encounter, and you're still giving yourself space to process the breakup and for self-care, you're probably on the right track," she says. "If you find that you have a negative emotional reaction after the experience, that might be a sign to take a step back and re-focus on yourself."
So be honest with yourself and check in on your feelings before you go out to have rebound sex. It absolutely can be a helpful part of your healing process, but if you're going into it for the wrong reasons, it can also make you feel worse.
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