Life is not always the smooth ride we wish it were. Bad things happen like divorce, a cheating spouse, or the ultimate tragedy, death. When these types of events happen to our most intimate and personal relationships, we often will shy away from anything sexual. It is normal and healthy to “take a sex break” at times when we feel sad or angry or insecure. Depending on the nature of event, physical intimacy with another person may be the absolute last thing on our minds. How can we imagine ever caring about another person again after our spouse (or partner) has died? Or, how can we trust another person after our partner has cheated on us? Ultimately, how can we learn to enjoy sex again after something awful happens?
TAKE TIME TO GRIEVE: When we lose a partner either literally, through a death, or figuratively through a divorce or an instance of cheating, we are going to grieve the loss of that relationship or that person. Grief is a necessary process that really can’t be skipped over. The time it takes one to grieve differs from person to person, and takes many different forms. In some instances of divorce, the loss is likened to a death, and may carry the same grieving process as an actual death. With cheating, the grief comes from a feeling of failure and insecurity. In any of the cases, giving yourself enough time to feel that deep sadness that comes with grief is necessary.
ALLOW THE EMOTIONS: It stands to reason that any type of loss will carry with it a myriad of emotions. Anger, fear, sadness, loneliness, despair, embarrassment or even outrage. We get mad when someone dies (even though it is not their fault) and we get even madder when someone cheats. We may have feelings of failure or embarrassment (my ex left me for his 20 year old tennis instructor – who wouldn’t feel a bit embarrassed?) There is also an element of fear. What if I find someone and she dies? What if I get in a relationship and he cheats? I am already divorced once, what if it happens again? These are all natural feelings and thoughts. Allow yourself to have them – but don’t DWELL on them. Process them. Figure out which emotions are productive and which are counterproductive. Perhaps find a therapist who can walk you through the emotional rollercoaster. Dealing with the emotions is the first step in moving past the experience and into a healthier future.
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TAKE THINGS SLOWLY: Once you are ready to jump back in the proverbial dating saddle again it is important to remember to GO SLOWLY! Jumping right back into bed with someone may seem like the right thing to do (especially if it has been a while since you have had sex) but it is not. Listen to your inner self and confront the feelings. Are you afraid? Are you anxious? Do you really want to have sex with this person? Allow yourself to go through the stages of sex and intimacy at a pace that makes you comfortable. Just kissing someone else after your partner has died can be a traumatic experience, and many people feel like they are cheating (even though this is impossible). Take things slowly, do what feels right, and enjoy the ride.
FIND AN UNDERSTANDING PARTNER: Not everyone who you will meet will understand or accept the feelings you are having. Finding a partner who is willing to go slowly and take it one date (or night) at a time is very important. If he or she wants to rush or doesn’t understand your hesitancy, then they may not be the right partner for you. After a death, divorce or cheating partner, we often look at the next relationship much differently. We want to do things “right” and find a partner who is a good match for us. So, make sure that the person who you are contemplating having sex with appreciates that and is not rushing you. If you have any hesitation at all as to that PERSON, then think twice before jumping in.
RIDING THE BIKE AGAIN: At some point it is time to get back on the bike again. You have processed the emotions, handled the grief, found a partner who you connect with and are attracted to. So now it is time to be intimate again. You will likely have a lot of feelings that may contradict themselves. For instance, be really aroused by your new partner, but be afraid that he or she will cheat. You may really want sex, but be sad and emotional that your last lover has died. These are all natural. Allow them to come, then force them out a bit and dive back in. If you are sure you are ready for sex, do not allow the negative feelings to ruin it at the 11th hour! While you are engaging in sex concentrate on your new partner. Feel what it is like to be with this other person. Allow those different touches and experiences to fill your mind. This is natural and healthy and you are entitled to have sex if you want. Do not think about the “what ifs” and the “could happens” while you are in the moment. Simply enjoy this intimate connection for what it is.
POST-COITAL THOUGHTS: It is possible that after your sex session you may feel a mixture of relaxed, happy, satisfied and afraid, guilty or even angry. These emotions are completely natural, so allow them and process them for what they are. You have not cheated on your past lover; you have not done anything wrong, you shouldn’t be afraid of what should or could happen tomorrow or the next week. Just allow all of these feelings to come in, but do not dwell on them. You have just shared a sexual incident with someone so enjoy that! Enjoy the cuddling and the afterglow!
RINSE AND REPEAT: OK, so you have done it. It has been a day or two since you had sex, how do you feel? If you feel emotionally wrecked and like you are just not ready, then take a break. No one should have sex feeling less than good about it. Do you feel relaxed and happy? If so then do it again! Get back on the horse as much as you would like. If you feel apprehensive about your partner and his or her potential to cheat, then examine these thoughts? Are they rational or based on fact or fear? If they are based on fear then push those fears away and enjoy your new partner. Having sex again is a process; you should both enjoy it without those fears.
Note: If you feel like you are just not having satisfying sex after the death of a partner, it is important to see a counselor and get the proper therapy. Even for divorce situations, this could be an instrumental part of reclaiming your sexual life.
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