Sex After Divorce: How Long Should You Wait?

By Mary Elizabeth Dean|Updated June 16, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Lauren Guilbeault, LMHC

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.

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Many recent divorcees wonder if they should wait before having sex after divorce. The answer to this is different for everyone. It is dependent on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include what type of relationship you are looking for, whether or not 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.

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-20, 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 hadn't 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. You can get to that point as well by exploring the following."

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 may 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 route 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.

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What Do You Need to Feel Safe During Sex?

Many people don't take into account the things needed for them to feel secure 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, don't beat yourself up.

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 may decide to share the bedroom with someone new, only to feel horrible afterward. 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, don't fret. 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 can't figure it out, there is no shame in asking for help.

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. The best thing about this platform is its accessibility. 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.

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 suffer in silence any longer - reach out and get the help you need today!

How Do You Date After a Divorce?

Dating after divorce can feel like you have entered into unchartered waters, especially if you had been married for a long time. The last time you “dated” was before you got married, and that was with your ex.

The dating world may look a little different post-divorce than it did before you were married. There are online dating apps that can help connect you to a new partner. Some apps are even specified to connect divorced people. You can also go about it the old-fashioned way and ask your friends if they know someone single that may be good for you. As a last resort, you could try to find a mate at a bar. While there may be single people there that you can date, you may also wind up with a social butterfly (someone who has sex with every new person they meet) or an alcoholic (if they are at the bar often).

Just be mindful that it’s not a free-for-all; consent rules still apply, and safe sex should be a priority. There are a lot of sexually transmitted diseases that you do not want to contract.

While every person you date may not be your next partner for life, you want to ensure that you use protection, especially if you engage in one-night stands.

Is It OK to Date While Divorcing?

In most states, once you are legally separated, it is ok to date others without worrying about repercussions. However, some people feel that it is not ok to date until they are completely and legally separated.

If you are divorcing amicably, it is fine to ask your soon-to-be-ex if it is alright to start dating. While you don’t need their permission, it is fair to ask if you want the divorce to remain amicable.

If you are going through a nasty divorce, it is best to wait until you are divorced to start dating. The last thing you need is for your ex to have more ammunition against you during divorce court proceedings.

While you may be interesting to see if the grass is greener on the other side, waiting a few more months will not be as bad as having to listen to your future ex use your dating and sex life against you. In these situations, you should definitely wait to start dating after the divorce is finalized.  

How Often Do New Couples Have Sex?

Sex with a new person can be exciting and liberating. You may find that when you start dating someone new, you have sex all the time. However, this is not always the case. Some new couples want to take things slow, and sex is not as important as other aspects of the relationship. The topic of sex is different for every couple.

For some, as in the example mentioned above, if the only person you have ever had sex with was your ex, it might be scary. Will you be good? Will they want something you don’t know about? Will you use condoms?

There can be many questions, and they are all valid. When it comes down to basics, sex with a new person will be different from anyone else's. It will also be much the same. If you aren’t sure what the person likes and dislikes or what is expected of you, ask.

First-time sex is typically either hot and messy or slow and steady. As you get to know each other more, you will find that you connect sexually differently.  

It is perfectly okay to ask your new partner questions about sex, especially divorce sex. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it, you may not be ready to engage in the activity.

Good sex life is comprised of one where you can have open talks and communications about the subject.

If you were previously in a sexless marriage, sex might be scary and exciting at the same time. Just remember that sex should be mutually satisfying. If it is not, then you should move on to someone new. One-sided sex means that the person is selfish and does not care about your needs. Is this the type of person you want to be involved with after you get divorced? Only you can answer that question.

Can Divorce Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

While divorce does not cause erectile dysfunction, stress most definitely can. If you are in a new relationship and set the bar high for yourself, you may end up being disappointing in the sack. Don’t set unrealistic expectations about what the sexual experience will be with a new partner.

If you have had a few or several sexual partners since you got divorced and you start experiencing erectile dysfunction, you may want to run the issue by your doctor. Statistically speaking, 40% of men begin to experience erectile dysfunction at age 40, and the older you get, the higher the statistic. By age 70, 70% of men experience erectile dysfunction. Poor health can make the percentages even great at any age.

How Do You Fix Erectile Dysfunction?

There are instances when reaching out to a professional can help fix dysfunctional erectile issues. If you haven’t experienced sex with anyone since you were married and find someone you want to be intimate with, you typically want it to go well. No one wants terrible sex after divorce. That can crush your ego even more.

But sometimes, things do go wrong. If you have erectile dysfunction during your first time, a sex therapist can help you find out why you are having trouble in the bedroom.

The first time you are with a new sexual partner can be a scary time. However, if you go slow and take your time, your sexual partner (or partners) should understand that you are fresh out of the gate. If your partner is unwilling to talk to you and know where you are coming from, they are not someone you should want to remain sexually active with, and you should move on.

In the meantime, seeing a sex therapist can help you get to the bottom of your intimacy and erectile dysfunction issues.

How Do You Make a Divorced Man Fall in Love with You?

If a man was recently divorced, and he was not the one who initiated it, trying to get him to fall in love with you is an unfair game. He has been hurt, and he may tread lightly. However, a newly divorced man may also be on the rebound and crave social connection with another human being.

While making someone fall in love with you is never an ideal way to start a relationship, if you find yourself involved with a man who has hurt feelings from their divorce, listening to them is the best way to get to their heart. Chances are a breakdown in communications in his previous relationship, so being a good listener is a great way to attract a newly divorced man. 

How Do I Start a New Life After Divorce?

Everyone approaches life after divorce differently. Some people want to get grounded and find out who they truly are now that they are single. Others want to maintain as much consistency as possible.

Whether you try to discover and reinvent yourself or stick to what you know best, there is no correct way to start a new life after divorce. Just being honest with yourself is a significant first step. From there, take it day by day.

How Can I Have a Healthy Divorce?

Divorce does not always have to end horribly. Some people can divorce amicably and find that they are better as friends than as married lovers.

Communication is the key to everything. The more open you can be with your soon-to-be-ex, the easier the divorce process will be for you both. 

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