"Your main priority is probably to get your ex out of your head. So what’s the best way to do that?"
Remember when Samantha Jones said that the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else? As much as I adore the Sex And The City icon, I’m afraid I’ll have to disagree with her on this point. If you’ve recently gone through a breakup, you might be wondering ‘What’s the best way to get over my ex?’ or asking yourself when it’s acceptable to put on your best riding boots and hop back on the horse. A quick holiday shag, a hot summer night with a stranger – will it help?
Right now, your main priority is probably to get your ex out of your head and start feeling desired by somebody else. So what’s the best way to do that? The Vaccines will tell you that the answer is post-breakup sex – it makes you forget your ex, apparently. Your friends are most likely telling you the same thin. Give yourself the first full body shave you’ve had in weeks, slap on the Cocoa Brown and get out on the pull, girl.
Despite the advice from your pals and The Vaccines, who really do mean well, the relationship experts will tell you that post-breakup sex is probably the last thing you should do to get over an ex and have healthy relationships in the future.
Sometimes, the worst blow of a breakup can be to your self-esteem. We can admit that getting chatted up in a bar by a stranger can be a great confidence boost, but Alice Kelly, Systemic Psychotherapist and Clinical Manager at the Clanwilliam Institute, says that jumping straight into a one-night stand is not always the best cure for a broken heart.
Sex with your partner is emotional and can be very intimate, whereas sex with a relative stranger on a one-night stand is very different. If you’re feeling vulnerable after a breakup, sometimes the lack of emotional closeness can be magnified through a one-night stand and, while it may be fun and a happy distraction at the time, often the emotional hangover in the days afterwards can make us feel even more lonely.
Although hopping into bed with a new person might seem like a quick fix to your heartbreak and a distraction from your ex, chances are it’ll only end in tears for you, and also for the person you’re essentially using to numb the pain. Remember, it takes two to tango. Harriet, 28, learned this the hard way.
“When my rollercoaster relationship of three messy years ended, I was, in a way, relieved – but still totally devastated, naturally. To move on, I did all the things you’re supposed to. I blocked him online, I watched Legally Blonde, I sang the forlorn breakup ballads, I ate the Häagen-Dazs.
“After a couple of weeks, I wanted to try moving on in a different way – I went on a date. One thing led to another, and before you knew it, we were sleeping together. The sex was great, and it made me feel good again; I felt desired in ways my ex stopped making me feel, and yet I still felt free and independent and all those empowering feelings you get as a newly single woman who don’t need no
The only problem was that while I was having those feelings, he was starting to kinda fall for me. We weren’t on different pages, we were on entirely different books. He started to send me gorgeous,
thoughtful gifts, and I just knew I had to do the right thing and stop leading him on. I was gutted to put an end to it, but I couldn’t be selfish. You don’t want to break someone else’s heart while you’re in the middle of mending your own, so although rebound sex is just what the doctor ordered (a very inappropriate doctor, perhaps), make sure you are both on the same wavelength or else shit will get very complicated, very fast.”
Rena Maycock, co-founder of dating agency Intro Matchmaking and online dating site Arealkeeper.ie, says she comes across broken-hearted people looking for a quick fix to their pain all the time. In her experience, getting under someone new to get over your ex won’t do you any good in the long run.
If your heart still belongs to someone else then sleeping with a stranger will leave you with nothing but a feeling of mild disgust and will only serve to make you feel cheap on top of heart broken. The urge to race out to Coppers to find the nearest fine young thing is less a compulsion to fall for someone else, and more to wreak a silent revenge on your ex. But sadly, even if that ex finds out you have ‘moved on’, it is unlikely to bother them as they were the ones that walked away in the first place.
I know what you’re thinking: ‘No one-night stands, gotcha. So how do I know when I’m ready to move on?’
Alice says that this is a very subjective question. “There are no ‘rules’ as to how long someone should wait. Definitely give yourself some time to grieve your previous relationship and find yourself again, however this time should also be relatively proportionate to the length of the relationship to begin with. For example, if you were only together for a few months, don’t shut yourself off from someone else for too long.”
Aisling, 25, had only just finished her five year relationship when a new man came on the scene. “My breakup was what you could call a different experience. We split amicably, there was no hatred or bitterness, which sometimes makes it even harder,” she says.
Soon afterwards, a friend introduced me to one of her guy friends. There was an instant click and chemistry that I hadn’t felt in years. One thing led to another and before we knew it we were dating and seeing each other. It was so easy and fun and the sex was amazing. I knew I had to take it slow because even though there was a connection, I couldn’t rush into something as I was cautious it could just be a rebound. Fast forward eight months and we’ve made it ‘official’ and I’m happier than ever. I completely agree with taking time to figure things out, but I’m happy I went with my gut and met someone great.
If, unlike Aisling, you’re struggling to get your ex out of your head, Rena says that the most important thing is to mind yourself and get back to feeling valued, respected and repairing your confidence. “Don’t wallow, but get out there and socialise with friends. Do what makes you happy. Bottomless brunches, hikes in the mountains, bike rides in the Phoenix park, drive-in movies. Accept every invitation and remind yourself life is still worth living.”
If you’re still feeling a bit shitty, Alice advises: “Do nice things for yourself, don’t make any major life decisions in the immediate aftermath of a breakup, and always remember: nothing in life is permanent. This too shall pass, your heart and head will heal and enthusiasm and excitement for a new future will slowly slip back into your thinking, so embrace it!”