Ask An Adult: How Do I Get Back In The Sex Game After A LTR?
The Debrief: The prospect of getting back into the sex game after a long term relationship is fucking terrifying. Here’s how to do it without going completely mental.
Illustration by Assa Ariyoshi
I don’t need to tell you that breaking up with someone you really loved and have been with for ages is absolutely shit. And not just because when they left, they took their Netflix account with them. But, the heartbreak almost pales into insignificance compared to the sheer horror of getting back on the dating scene when you’ve been on a long sabbatical. When I broke up with my boyfriend of two years I had never actually had sex with anyone outside of a loving relationship before and it was a huge (and entirely unwelcome) surprise to learn that not all of the men who had sex with me wanted to be my boyfriend. A surprise resulting in me getting totally shitfaced on wine and crying in the middle of a crowded pub, screaming 'why doesn’t he love me?!' to my utterly baffled looking friends. I really could have done with a bit of a guide on how to go about the whole dating ‘thing’ without getting my heart broken or going completely insane, which is why we’ve asked an therapist and relationship coach Rachel Barnett for some advice. Read it and then go and do a sex with someone new - it’s time to get back out there.
Don’t do it for revenge
‘Whilst there might be some truth to the adage “the best way to get over someone is to get under somebody else”, you will only run into trouble when you have sex with someone else to get revenge on your ex. Whether your aim is to lure them back with jealousy or just to hurt them, you will inevitably only end up hurting yourself. Plus, it very rarely actually works – even if your ex is compelled to get back with you because of a pang of jealousy, this is ware off and the problems behind your separation will only return. Wanting to inflict revenge on someone is also a pretty good indication that you’re not properly over someone and you might need some more time before you put yourself out there.’
Make sure you’re ready
‘Aside from potentially making yourself miserable, there is nothing less attractive than someone who is clearly looking for someone to distract themselves or numb their pain. You might think that a one night stand is a good way to get over someone, but the inevitable rejection will knock your confidence and make you feel so much worse. Exactly how long it takes to get over someone will vary from person to person, but it can be anything from a minute to a year. Don’t rush it – you’ll be better off in the long run.’
Get on Tinder
‘Tinder is a great way to get back on the horse if you’re feeling nervous because it lets you try flirting in a risk-free way before you actually give it a go in “real life”. Chatting to a bunch of people – who you know find you attractive because they swiped right – will reassure you that the goalposts haven’t really changed when it comes to flirting since the last time you were on the market and it’s a good way to meet people outside of your (and your ex’s) social circle. You don’t even have to meet any of them if you don’t want to – it’s basically like a self-esteem computer game.’
Don’t do anything drastic with your look
‘It’s tempting to give yourself a massive image overhaul after a breakup or a broken heart and it’s actually a great way of making yourself feel sexy and confident when you’re back on the market – but within reason. I can’t count the number of clients who have got a haircut that they hated after a breakup and it knocked their confidence for six. You want to be best version of yourself, not a completely different person, so don’t do anything drastic.’
‘Don’t stick to your old haunts where you’ll no doubt have a load of memories about your ex or where you could even bump into them – you need a new territory. There’ll be loads of clubs or bars where you wouldn’t have gone with your ex because they’re full of single people trying to get off with each other; perfect for your new requirements. Relationships also fill up a lot of your time, so you’ll no doubt have a lot of spare time on your hands now and you should fill it with activities where you might meet someone new. Take a life drawing class or cooking class – somewhere where you’re encouraged to talk to new people. It’s a good, non-boozy way to get back in the sex game (a bonus if you don’t want to make potentially dodgy decisions).’
Stop bloody talking about it
‘When you first start sleeping with other people, it’s tempting to tell them everything that went wrong in your last relationship. Stop it. It’s not attractive. Similarly, your friends are no doubt bored of hearing about your breakup and want you to move on. Ask your single friends for advice and information on how the game has changed by all means, but there comes a point when you have to zip it.’
And finally….’wear a condom! You probably haven’t had to worry about that for some time, but going to the STD clinic is a faff, you might as well cut out the need.’
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Illustration by Assa Ariyoshi
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