Psychosexual therapist, Joanne Coker says when it’s over sex is not the answer. Poppy Watt finds out more.
Splitting up with a partner is never easy – it can take months or even years to disentangle your lives. One of the most difficult things to cope with can be the loss of sexual intimacy, with many former couples continuing to have sexual liaisons long after their real relationship has ended.
But is continuing to have sex with an ex part of the letting go process or does it just complicate matters and delay the inevitable?
Joanna Coker, Sex and Relationship Therapist for Bondara says, “Losing a relationship can be very traumatic, even if it’s you who calls time on it. Often the longer you have been together the greater the attachment bonds formed. That’s why the temptation to revisit familiar and comfortable sex can be overwhelming. However, splitting with a partner is about just that and sex with an ex just delays the inevitable end and prevents you moving on to a more stable healthy relationship.”
Before you get up close and personal with your ex Joanna advises considering the following:
Is the sex about love or fear of being alone?
Are you trying to avoid the pain of an ending by holding onto your relationship?
Is sex with the ex going to stop you moving on and making the changes that you want and perhaps need to create?
What will the cost be to each of you of the confusion that may ensue from continuing to have sex?
If you still want to reclaim a relationship, work on the underlying issues that split you up so you can rebuild the relationship before resuming sex. A sex and relationship therapist can help you with this.
If on the other hand the relationship really is over for good, Joanna offers advice on how to move on successfully.
Take time to rebuild your relationship with yourself
Rebuilding your relationship with yourself is the first step to moving on. Often, in order to make a relationship work, we put our partner’s wants and needs before our own. As a result, when the relationship ends we can find it difficult to know what makes us feel fulfilled in our own right. This can lead us to hold onto a relationship we know is over because we feel lost without it. Take a step back and think about all the things you enjoyed doing before you started the relationship, learn to enjoy your own company – even if it’s sitting in a café on your own with a good book or going for a long walk.
Set yourself a new goal or pursue an old ambition
Your newfound freedom gives you the time to pursue new goals or resume old ones that have been put on the back burner because you were investing so much time in your relationship. Whether you have always fancied yourself as a budding entrepreneur or simply want to learn a new skill, investing your time and energy on something which produces positive results will do wonders for your confidence and help you move on more easily.
Spend time with those who increase your feelings of self worth
During the course of a relationship we may neglect other close relationships, such as those with friends and family, which can make us feel even more isolated when the relationships ends. If so, it may be time to pick up the phone and start reconnecting with those who knew and loved you pre – relationship. Spending time with people who make you feel good about yourself will increase your feelings of self worth and help you to avoid seeking comfort with your ex.
Exercise away the blues
During sex your body produces endorphins, which act as a natural anti depressant, lifting your mood and relieving stress. Exercise is a great substitute because it releases the same endorphins and induces the same general state of wellbeing – even 10 minutes of moderate exercise is enough to improve your mood. In addition, exercise will help your body to look and feel better which will help your self confidence and put you in a better frame of mind to leave your past relationship behind and move on to pastures new.
Discover new pleasurable sensations
If you are missing the intimate side of your relationship, falling into the arms of a former lover can get messy and complicated- focus on yourself instead, explore your own body, discovering new pleasurable sensations which you can take into a new relationship when it arrives.