One of the ways that people cope with divorce is jumping from relationship to relationship -- or getting over someone by getting under someone else. When you're dating after divorce, is it ever okay to sleep around?
Your human need to be nurtured is absolutely valid. However, the way that you get this need met is going to vary from healthy to unhealthy. One of the more unhealthy ways to get this need met is to compulsively sleep around. While it might make you feel better during and shortly after, you may regret having known that person intimately in the long-term. For some people, having sex after divorce may be a good option. Here are three things you must do when deciding to sleep around:
1. Be honest with yourself.
If you're still reeling from a painful divorce, it's probably not the smartest idea to jump into any relationship -- sexual or otherwise. This is a time to work on yourself.
If you feel you're ready to embark on a path that involves a casual sex relationship, take a moment to reexamine what it is you're actually looking for. Are you looking for no-strings-attached sex?
If you were married for a very long time (or perhaps if you were married to the first person you slept with), it can be developmentally appropriate to want to experiment sexually. Or perhaps you're looking for a relationship that starts as "hooking up" but are open to it turning into something more serious?
Ultimately, you want to be very clear on your relationship goals. Then, if you can have (protected) sex while keeping your dignity, it could be a perfectly healthy and appropriate choice.
Only you know what it is you want from having sex after your divorce. It's most important to focus on you and your needs. Don't settle for something unless you decide you want it from a healthy, confident place.
2. Be cautious.
If you decide a casual relationship is in fact what you're looking for, your health should be your main focus. Make sure you protect yourself physically and mentally to the best of your abilities. It can feel like rejection when a sexual relationship ends, and that could be a new feeling for you.
You could find midway through sleeping with multiple partners that this is exactly what you needed. Conversely, you could find that this is the exact opposite of what you need. If you find yourself in the latter position, make sure you protect yourself so you won't be walking away with an STD or an unwanted pregnancy and so you'll have your self-esteem intact.
3. Be picky.
This rule should apply to all parts of your life, but definitely if you are planning to get intimate with someone. Craigslist casual encounters are probably not the best place to start. If you decide that you're interested in a more casual relationship with someone, make sure that a) you've both been recently tested for STDs and b) you're both clear on what you're signing up for in terms of expectations.
It could be that the other person has no idea that you're only interested in sex! Maybe they're looking for a relationship. It's critical that you practice direct communication; it's important to talk about sexual health and mental health before consenting to casual sex.
There really isn't a concrete answer to whether or not you should sleep with someone shortly after your divorce. It absolutely depends on what you're looking for, your relationship goals, your history and your level of confidence and self-esteem.
Many of my post-divorce clients don't want to get involved in a serious relationship right away. If you find yourself in a position where you want something more casual, go for it. Just make sure you put yourself and your dignity first.