As tempting as it might be to bounce from guy to guy and bed to bed after a breakup, don't do it. You're setting yourself up for more heartbreak and another hit to your self-esteem if you do. "Beware of going from one man to another, like you might from one cookie in the jar to another," says Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D., a couples therapist in southern California and the author of Now You Want Me, Now You Don't!. "While it helps you not to get emotionally involved, you use up the resource and end up getting in a panic."
If you do decide to have rebound sex, it's important that it's safe sex too. You're already very vulnerable, so the last thing you need right now is to get an STD — or get pregnant. "Use the pill as birth control or make sure you have the morning after pill ready at all times, like the Kleenex in your purse," says Raymond. "That way your impulses don't endanger you."
If you're the jilted one, you might have the urge to get back at your ex by sleeping with someone else. Resist it, cautions Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., a psychotherapist known as "Dr. Romance" and the author of It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction. "Be careful of the revenge stage: I'll show him/her. I'll go find someone else right away," she says. "Men usually do this faster than women, but any relationship entered into in this stage usually has problems."
If you're on the prowl for a new lover without having processed your breakup and old relationship, you're setting yourself up for trouble. "Going right out on the hunt again feels good for a while, but bigger problems arise in the new relationship, because you weren't ready and you got into it for the wrong reasons," Tessina says. "To really feel better, you have to face your own responsibility in past relationships that didn't work, make changes and begin having relationships on a brand new basis."
Raymond says that while rebound sex can be satisfying in the moment, it can leave you feeling empty and alone if you haven't fully dealt with your split first. "Rebound sex is like comfort food — it works for the moment but leaves a gaping hole when it's over, so beware the temptation to indulge and gorge on more and more sex with the same person, since its effect will wear off and leave you anxious and unable to soothe yourself," she says. "It isn't and shouldn't be a substitute for grieving, processing the loss and then starting afresh."
Rebound sex can be fun, sure, but it isn't all about you. There's another person in the mix with feelings too — so be sensitive and compassionate for both your sakes so no one gets hurt. "Remember that whomever you sleep with is human, and they have feelings which may bite you in the long run," Raymond says. "They may get infatuated with you."
Don't lead someone nice on if all you're looking for is a meaningless, purely physical relationship, warns Raymond. Instead, be upfront about what you want so that he's going into it with his eyes open. "Make it clear that you are on the rebound and don't set up any false hopes," she says.
Time, they say, heals all wounds. And that's certainly true when it comes to getting over a breakup. If you're jumping in the sack with someone new too soon after your last relationship ended, watch out; you might regret it in a big way. "Allow enough grieving time between your ex and a new relationship," Tessina warns. "If you jump into a rebound relationship, you're just masking your pain with the excitement of a new love. If you don't have time to grieve and recover, problems will arise. You need a while after you end this current relationship to evaluate what happened, be on your own and get ready to be with someone else. Otherwise, you'll create a trail of rebound destruction."
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