Sex After Divorce: What Should You Expect?

Divorce is stressful, whether it’s amicable or contentious. The idea of sex after divorce will likely stir up a lot of feelings — anxiety, guilt, arousal, anticipation — and all of them are valid! But it can also be the start of a new and exciting chapter of your life if you lean into the change and have an open mind. 

Remember, you’re not alone, so take a few deep breaths. Plenty of people have been exactly where you are right now, and we’d love to share some of the knowledge they’ve picked up along the way. 

How Does Sex Change After Divorce?

Yes, sex after divorce will be different from the sex you were (or possibly weren’t) having with your ex. But that doesn’t always have to be a bad thing! Being prepared for how sex can change after divorce can set the bar appropriately, plus it’s incredibly validating to know that some experiences are universal!

New Experiences

When you’re in a monogamous relationship, sex can eventually get a little routine. You may not even remember what it’s like to have sex with someone that hasn’t been planned. Don’t get us wrong, making time to be intimate with your partner can be super sexy, but there’s something extra hot about having new experiences.

Many of us lose ourselves in long-term relationships, especially if children are involved. We’re partners and parents first, and sexual beings with needs a distant second. Sex after divorce can help you rekindle your love for yourself and remember that you’re a sexy, beautiful, fully alive human that deserves pleasure. 

The ability to enjoy new sexual partners and experiences isn’t restricted to a specific age range, either. While it may take more time to get physically aroused, plenty of people continue to have hot, satisfying sex into their senior years! You may need to break out the lube, but age is ultimately just a number. 

Hello, Casual Sex

There is nothing wrong with casual sex. Read that again — there is absolutely nothing wrong with having casual sex. Although we’ve come far toward removing old, outdated stigmas and beliefs about sex, plenty of people still pass unfair judgment on people who have sex for fun. 

You don’t need that energy in your life. If you want to download a hookup app or head to the club with the intention of bringing someone home, do it (safely)! 

However, there is a caveat. Some people may dive right into having casual sex to distract themselves from feeling their feelings and processing their divorce. Before lining up potential partners, make sure you do a mental wellness self-check so that you’re hooking up for the right reasons.

Emotional Conflict

Divorce can really put you through the emotional wringer, especially if it wasn’t your idea in the first place. These mixed emotions can also lead to emotional conflict when you start having sex after divorce. 

Some people say they feel like they cheated on their partner, while others feel super emotional without knowing why. All of these feelings are completely normal and expected! 

Don’t overlook or ignore how you’re feeling — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Your feelings are there for a reason, so give them the attention they need so that you don’t put yourself in a situation you’re not ready for yet. 

It’s okay to need time before having sex after divorce. There’s no set timeframe to follow; when you’re ready, you’ll know.

What Are Some Tips for the Second, First Time?

Nothing like feeling like a virgin again, right? Although that song is still a banger, the reality of having to start all over with a new partner can be a little less than thrilling. Luckily, you’ve already had sex before, so you don’t have to worry about knowing how it works! 

Sex after divorce is more about learning how to get comfortable in your skin, and we’ve got a few tips to help you do that.

Keep Your Mind Open

Sexual ruts can be oddly comforting. While the sex may not have been mind-blowing, you always knew what you would get. When approaching sex after divorce, it may be challenging to break out of that rut and explore what’s out there — different positions, sex acts, and even kinks. 

But keeping an open mind can be a great start towards learning more about what you’re into, especially if you haven’t been able to consider that before. Are there things you’ve always wanted to try? Are there fantasies that got you through a sexless marriage? 

This is the time to make them a reality! Sex after divorce is a blank slate; you get to write whatever you want.

However, also know that you don’t have to just go with the flow to keep an open mind. We’ll talk more about your comfort level next, but an open mind doesn’t translate to saying “yes” to everything. 

It’s absolutely okay to have certain parts of sex that are a hard pass; that doesn’t make you a prude or no fun. Confidence is also pretty sexy.

Know Your Comfort Level

With all that said, it’s also crucial that you take the time to think about and set your boundaries with a new sexual partner. Keeping an open mind doesn’t mean you have to do things you don’t want to; sexual exploration doesn’t supersede consent. If your partner is pushing you, that’s a red flag.

While we’re on the subject of comfort, be aware that you may have trouble “performing” right away with a new partner. Whether that means not making enough natural vaginal lubrication or having difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, first-time sex jitters are normal and expected. 

Try using lube or an arousal oil, and be honest with your partner. In all things sex, honesty and communication are always the best policies.

It can also be helpful to take your time with any new sexual partners. We’re all for those heat of the moment, ripping each other's clothes off and going at it on the kitchen table moments, but it may make you far more comfortable to go slow at first. 

That can also make it much easier to get off, which can be tricky with a new partner. Make out for a while — when was the last time you had a good makeout session? 

Explore each other’s bodies with your hands and mouth. By the time you’re ready for penetration (if that’s on the table), your body and head will be in the game.

How Long Should You Wait?

Everyone should wait exactly 274 days, 3 hours, and 2 minutes before having sex after divorce. No, of course no set amount of time’s required or recommended for you to wait before you dive back into the dating (or casual sex) pool. 

It ultimately comes down to two factors — physical and emotional readiness. 

Physically, you should always have a full check-up before entering any sexual relationship, even a casual one. Most importantly, even if there was never any known infidelity in your marriage, have your healthcare provider do a complete sexually transmitted infection (STI) panel. 

Unfortunately, you only know what you’ve been doing. You have to trust what your partner says; some people aren’t always truthful. Give yourself and your prospective partner easy peace of mind before having sex after divorce (or any relationship) for the first time.

But STIs aren’t the only thing you can “catch” from sex. If you were born with a vulva, still have working reproductive organs, and are planning to have sex with a partner who can potentially get you pregnant, you’ve gotta look into what options are available for birth control. No one wants a surprise pregnancy, especially right after getting divorced. 

Emotional readiness is also key. There’s nothing wrong with being full of mixed emotions when thinking about sex after divorce; we’d be worried if you didn’t feel something! As long as the good outweighs the bad, and you’ve taken the time to get in touch with how you really feel, you should be good to go. 

If you’re still processing, give yourself the time and space to grieve and move on before jumping into the sack with someone new. We’re also huge fans of therapy; a good therapist can help you work through your feelings and get to a healthier, happier, more sex-positive place.

The Bottom Line

Sex after divorce may seem scary and intimidating, but it can also be incredibly empowering and freeing to rediscover yourself sexually! We’re all human and deserve to be loved (and have lots of orgasms!) in whatever ways feel right, as long as it’s safe and consensual. 

Don’t let fear of judgment or misplaced feelings of guilt hold you back from exploring your body and enjoying sexual pleasure. And, as always, we’re here for you every step of the way. 

Sources:

Sexuality: Desire, activity and intimacy in the elderly | PMC

Safe sex | MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia

Sexually Transmitted Diseases | CDC

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