Sex After Divorce: How Long Should You Wait?

Updated March 22, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Life after divorce can feel like uncharted territory to many people. When you are going through such a radical life change, the logistics of moving on can be a nightmare. You have so many questions in your mind surrounding how your schedule will change, who you will spend your time with, and how your sex life will change. After you are divorced, dating can be a source of anxiety as well for both you and the person who is dating a divorced man

Need some support navigating sex after divorce?

Many recent divorcees wonder if they should wait before having sex after divorce. The answer to this is different for everyone and is dependent on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include what type of relationship you are looking for, whether you are ready to be intimate with someone new, and what you need to feel safe during sex. No matter your situation or circumstances, you can get back to enjoying sex with someone new. If you are curious if you may be ready, read on to learn more about finding intimacy after divorce and relationship guidance to help you feel confident in whichever decision you make. 

Sex after divorce: A deeper look

The Moores married young. Lynn was just 20 when she met her future husband, Matthew. They were each other's 'firsts' and had many good years together-twenty to be exact. But when their twin girls left for college, things began to change. They realized that they no longer had anything in common. In fact, they had not been attracted or attached in years. They were going through the motions.

Not long after, the couple decided to divorce. There was no drama; in fact, the situation was mutual. Still, many areas of their lives were turned upside down. Matthew started dating someone else right away. Lynn was a little shocked but was happy for him nonetheless. After all, it wasn't her ex-husband moving on that made her feel scared and confused; it was her own intimacy issues.

You see, Matthew was the only man she had ever been with, and she couldn't wrap her mind around how sex would work with someone else. Because of this, she chose not to date. Sex after the divorce was a scary topic for her, and she was too embarrassed to talk about it with friends and family.

Finally, Lynn got the nerve to talk to an online relationship counselor through Regain. Working together, the two were able to wade through the topics below. Now, both Matthew and Lynn are in healthy, loving relationships post-divorce. Wondering about 'sex after divorce' is a thing of the past for Lynn. 

If this example resonates in your life, the following discussion can help you answer the question; “How long should you wait for sex after your divorce?”

What kind of relationship are you looking for?

How long you wait to have sex after divorce will depend on what type of relationship you are looking for. If you are searching for someone to have casual sex with, there is no need to wait very long at all. This seems to be the culture now, and if you've been 'out of the game' for a while, this is something you'll have to accept. Of course, that doesn't mean you'll have to partake! If sex holds a more important place in your heart, you will most likely want to hold off longer.

Casual sex is easy to transition to after the divorce. This type of relation offers a "no strings attached" approach to intimate relations. The person that you choose to have sex with need not have anything in common with you. You don't have to worry about an emotional attachment, and there are no obligations involved in this type of relationship.


If your desires are strictly physical, you can pursue this type of relationship almost immediately following your divorce. Just make sure it is truly what you want. The last thing you want to do is harbor feelings for this person only for sex.

If sex is more than just an activity, you will need to wait a bit longer to jump in. Maybe you don't want to start a new relationship, but you need certain things before having sex with someone. Some examples of qualities you may be searching for include knowing this person (at least at a friendly level.)

You may want to be sure that the two of you are compatible in the bedroom. You may have other morals that need to be fulfilled before you can have sex with someone. It is best to give yourself time to process your divorce before you engage in this relationship.

No matter which routes you choose, trust yourself and your instincts when faced with a tough decision. If you consider the choices and weigh them appropriately, you can trust yourself to choose the right path. No one knows yourself better than you. Don't sell yourself short; have some confidence in your intuition above all else.

Are you ready to be intimate with someone new?

The relationship with your ex may have left you emotionally broken. Depending on the details of the cause for your divorce, you may not be ready to be intimate with someone new.

This area's rule in this area is to make sure you are ready to be with someone new. If you are carrying around excess emotional baggage from your last relationship, sex should be avoided.

The danger of jumping into a physical relationship before you are ready is impeding your healing. You want to be sure that you are giving yourself ample time following your divorce to feel better inside and out.

If you delay the healing process too long, you risk forming toxic habits. Many people who rely on sex after divorce develop a need to have sex to solve any relationship problems. This can lead to ruined relationships in the future due to infidelity or misunderstanding overall. The number one thing you need to worry about right now is yourself. No matter how strongly you feel that you need sex to feel better, you don't.

There are alternatives, healthier ways to deal with your emotions that don't jeopardize your healing. If you are struggling to find peace after divorce, consider therapy. The emotional workings of ending a long-term relationship affect more areas in your life than you may realize. A professional can help you bring these issues to the surface and deal with them healthily. As a bonus, getting help can get you on the path to success quicker since you won't have to waste time with trial and error dealing with your emotions and thoughts.

Need some support navigating sex after divorce?

What do you need to feel safe during sex?

When you are in a romantic relationship with the same person for a long period, this person knows what you need.

A new person is not going to be as in touch with you as your ex. There could be things that you need to feel safe that you may not even realize. The knowledge needed for sex to be enjoyable for you may be hidden in the mind of your previous partner. For this reason, you need to be sure that you know what you need before you start a new intimate relationship.

This could take some soul searching and deep thought. Once you decide what is needed, you will need to have a conversation with this person. You must make sure this information is communicated effectively so that both of you can have an enjoyable experience. You deserve to have enjoyable sex free from anything that would make you feel uncomfortable.

The best way to do this is to take as much time as you need to figure out what that means. It is impossible to put an exact time limit on this. What you can be confident in is that you will know when the time is right. If you do end up engaging in relationships too soon, give yourself a break and move forward in confidence. 

Plenty of people stumble and fall on their journey to sex after divorce. Consider it a learning experience and move on. The more you fail, the more you learn. You will come out the other end with a deeper knowledge of yourself than ever before. That is a gift in and of itself.

How does sex make you feel?

Sex after divorce can be unpredictable, especially if you must explain what it entails to be dating a divorced man or dating a divorced woman. You could also be hesitant to do so but surprise yourself at the result.

If you have sex with someone and have negative emotions following it, pay attention to the reason why. Many people jump into romantic relationships too soon after sex. Learning how to gauge your emotions will be a great tool to decide how much longer you should wait. The only way you will know if it has been long enough at times is to try it. The emotions you feel could be largely unpredictable, especially in the early stages of your single life. If you find yourself down, get back up, and redirect yourself. You will eventually find the right path.

The flip side of this coin is positive. One day, you will go out on a limb and have sex with someone new. Despite your fears that you would feel negative or guilty after, you might surprise yourself. If you have sex, when the time is right, you will experience joyful emotions. It can be a maze getting to this point, but it is possible. All the struggles and failures leading up to this point will be worthwhile.

Deciding how sex makes you feel isn't always the easiest thing to do. The good thing is, once you get it right, you can use these skills in future relationships, as well. Life is largely a learning game, and none of us get out alive. Live a little and let your hair down. You will be grateful when you see the results.

When should you get help?

If the stress you feel regarding sex after divorce is overwhelming or you are unable to work through the feelings on your own, there is no shame in asking for help. Working with a skilled mental health therapist can give you the support you need to look inside your heart and mind for the reasons behind your hesitation. They can help you understand why you are experiencing stress or anxiety about intimacy while giving you a non-biased outside perspective you may not have with people close to you. 

You have many options to choose from when looking for a therapist. What is important is finding one who feel safe to share your story and who is qualifies to help you understand your challenges. You also have the choice to choose between online and in-person therapy, both effective ways for you to seek professional advice. Online therapy is convenient, and you can get support from the comfort of your own home and is supported by research as a beneficial alternative to in-person therapy. You may be concerned that online therapy is not as effective as in-person. Current research reveals that in people who received online therapy along with in-person reported that they felt their online therapist to be just as empathetic (if not more) as compared to their in-person therapist. 

The counselors and therapists at Regain are licensed, experienced professionals. They have thousands of hours of service, helping people get through similar situations to yours. Since these therapists are available online, they are perhaps the most convenient source of assistance you can find. You can log in at any time from anywhere and get the support that you need.


The journey after divorce can come with exciting changes along with obstacles, including the newness of being in the world of dating again. You do not need to rush into any relationship and give yourself time to adapt to this new life you are building. Wondering when you can have an intimate relationship may be one of the first things you are considering. With a professional in your corner, deciphering how long you should wait to have sex after divorce will be much easier. There is no need to manage these difficult feelings alone any longer – do not hesitate to get the help you need.

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