Sex to Forget: Does It Really Help to Get Over a Breakup?

Sex to Forget: Does It Really Help to Get Over a Breakup?

Breakups are difficult, emotionally draining experiences. In the aftermath, individuals often grapple with a whirlwind of emotions: sorrow, regret, loneliness, and sometimes even anger. As people navigate this tumultuous sea of feelings, some resort to physical intimacy or “rebound” relationships as a coping mechanism, often referred to colloquially as “sex to forget.” But does this method really help? Let’s dive in.

The Science of Breakups

When we’re in a relationship, our brain is filled with chemicals like oxytocin (the bonding hormone) and dopamine (the pleasure hormone). When a relationship ends, a sudden drop in these chemicals can lead to feelings of withdrawal, similar to a drug addict coming off a high.

Seeking a new partner or engaging in casual intimacy post-breakup can flood the brain with these chemicals once again. This can offer temporary relief from the pain and provide a distracting pleasure.

The Benefits of “Sex to Forget”

  • Physical Pleasure: The immediate benefit is the physical pleasure associated with intimacy, which can distract from the emotional pain, at least momentarily.
  • Boost in Self-Esteem: After a breakup, one’s self-worth can take a hit. Feeling desired by someone new can boost confidence and self-esteem.
  • Distraction: Engaging with someone new diverts attention from ruminating over the past relationship.

The Downside

  • Temporary Relief: While physical intimacy might provide an immediate distraction, it doesn’t address the underlying emotions or offer long-term healing.
  • Emotional Vulnerability: After a breakup, one’s emotional defenses are down. Engaging in casual intimacy can lead to increased emotional vulnerability, especially if feelings develop for the new partner.
  • Potential Regret: Some individuals regret using intimacy as a coping mechanism, feeling that it complicates the healing process.
  • Comparison with the Ex: New intimate encounters can involuntarily lead to comparisons with the ex-partner, keeping the memory alive.
  • Delaying Healing: Instead of processing and moving past the emotions associated with the breakup, rebound relationships or casual encounters might merely postpone the inevitable emotional reckoning.

The Individual Nature of Healing

Healing from a breakup is deeply personal. What works for one person might not work for another. While some find solace in new connections, others might find them distressing or confusing.

The idea of “sex to forget” might provide temporary relief from the emotional pain of a breakup. However, it’s not a one-size-fits-all remedy. It’s crucial to be self-aware and understand one’s motives. Seeking professional counselling or therapy, leaning on friends and family, and giving oneself time to heal are often healthier, more sustainable paths to recovery. Before diving into a rebound relationship or seeking casual encounters, it’s essential to consider the potential emotional repercussions and whether it genuinely aids the healing process.

Tips for Sex to Forget

If someone is considering using intimacy as a coping mechanism after a breakup, it’s crucial to approach the situation with care, self-awareness, and preparation. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Practice Safe Sex:

  • Safety should be a top priority. Ensure that you’re using protection to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies. Always discuss boundaries and STI statuses with any new partner.

 Check Your Intentions:

  • Ask yourself why you’re seeking intimacy. Is it purely for physical pleasure? A boost in self-esteem? Or are you trying to avoid painful feelings? Recognizing your intentions can help you determine if it’s the right choice for you.

 Open Communication:

  • It’s essential to communicate openly with any new partner about your recent breakup and your reasons for seeking intimacy. This transparency can prevent misunderstandings or false expectations.

 Manage Expectations:

  • Understand that while intimacy can offer temporary relief, it might not be a long-term solution to emotional pain. It’s vital to manage your expectations to avoid further emotional complications.

 Stay Connected with Yourself:

  • Regular self-reflection can be beneficial. It allows you to check in with your emotions, gauge whether the intimacy is helping or hindering your healing process, and adjust your approach if needed.

 Avoid Using Alcohol or Drugs as Catalysts:

  • Combining rebound intimacy with substance use can cloud judgment, lead to regrettable decisions, and complicate the healing process.

 Reconsider If You Feel Worse:

  • If you find that post-intimacy feelings make you more upset, lonelier, or reminiscent of your ex, it might be an indication that this coping mechanism isn’t suitable for you.

Maintain Other Forms of Support:

  • While you might be using intimacy as one form of coping, ensure you maintain other support systems. Friends, family, therapy, or support groups can offer emotional assistance and different perspectives.

 Limit Emotional Attachment:

  • If you’re looking for intimacy purely as a coping mechanism, be wary of developing deep emotional attachments. It can complicate the situation, especially if you’re not ready for a new relationship.

 Always Prioritize Consent:

  • Ensure that every intimate encounter is consensual for all parties involved. Mutual respect and understanding are paramount.

If someone chooses to use intimacy as a way to cope with a breakup, it’s essential to do so with mindfulness and caution. Everyone’s healing process is unique, and it’s crucial to find coping mechanisms that are genuinely beneficial without causing additional emotional distress.

Tricks for Sex to Forget

If someone is considering using intimacy as a coping mechanism after a breakup, it’s essential to approach the situation carefully. While “tricks” may imply quick fixes, it’s vital to remember that emotional well-being should always be the priority. Here are some strategies or “tricks” one might consider when trying “sex to forget”:

 Distraction, Not Replacement:

  • Understand that this act is more about distraction from pain rather than replacing or forgetting about an ex. Keeping this perspective can help ground the experience.

New Environment:

  • Engaging in intimacy in a new or different environment from what you’re accustomed to can help dissociate the act from memories of your ex.

 Avoid Emotional Triggers:

  • Choose intimate activities or scenarios that are less emotionally triggering. For instance, if certain acts or positions were significant with your ex, you might want to avoid them initially.

 Engage the Senses:

  • Using sensory stimulation like music, fragrances, or even new lingerie can help make the experience more about the present moment and less about the past.

 Focus on the Present:

  • Mindfulness practices can help you stay focused on the present experience and the physical sensations, rather than drifting into thoughts of the past.

Choose Different Types of Partners:

  • If you’re engaging with new partners, choosing individuals distinct from your ex in terms of personality, interests, or appearance can help differentiate the experiences.

 Maintain Boundaries:

  • Setting clear emotional and physical boundaries can be a valuable trick to ensure that the intimacy remains a distraction and doesn’t lead to further complications.

 Debrief With Yourself:

  • After the act, take some time to reflect on the experience. Did it make you feel better or worse? Did it bring up unexpected emotions? This self-awareness can guide future decisions.

 Limit Frequency:

  • While it’s tempting to use intimacy as a frequent distraction, it can be helpful to limit the frequency. This can prevent it from becoming a crutch or avoidance mechanism.

 Experiment With Non-Intimate Physical Activities:

  • Before jumping into intimacy, try other physical activities like dancing, exercise, or even just a long walk. Sometimes, the physical distraction, not necessarily intimacy, is what’s needed to help shift focus.


  • While the above “tricks” can help navigate “sex to forget,” it’s essential to prioritize emotional well-being. If at any point you feel that the intimacy is causing more harm than good, it might be time to reconsider this approach and seek other methods or professional assistance to cope with the breakup.

Example of “Sex to Forget”


Anna: A 28-year-old woman who recently went through a tough breakup with her long-term boyfriend.

Liam: A 30-year-old man who Anna meets at a friend’s party. He’s been single for a while and is open to casual relationships.

Scene 1: Anna is at a cafe with her friend, Sophia.

Anna: “It’s been three months, Sophia, and I still can’t get him out of my mind.”

Sophia: “Breakups are hard, but maybe you need a distraction. Have you thought about dating again?”

Anna: “I don’t know if I’m ready for a relationship, but I’m tired of feeling this way.”

Scene 2: At a friend’s party.

Anna and Liam strike up a conversation. They find common interests, and the attraction is evident. As the night goes on, they grow closer.

Liam: “You seem a bit distant. Everything okay?”

Anna: “Just a recent breakup. Trying to move on.”

Liam: “I understand. Sometimes a fresh start or a distraction can help.”

Scene 3: Anna’s apartment.

The two end up at Anna’s apartment. They share an intimate night together.

Scene 4: The next morning.

Anna wakes up with mixed feelings. She feels a temporary relief from the constant thoughts of her ex but is also filled with a range of emotions about the night before.

Anna: “Last night was… unexpected.”

Liam: “It was. I hope you’re okay with it.”

Anna: “I am, but I think I need to be honest with you. I’m not looking for anything serious right now. I needed a distraction, and last night was that.”

Liam: “I appreciate your honesty. And I feel the same. Let’s take things one day at a time.”

This example illustrates how “sex to forget” can be a spontaneous decision driven by a need to escape lingering feelings from a past relationship. While it offers a temporary distraction, the aftermath can be mixed with a range of emotions. Communication, self-awareness, and understanding from both parties are crucial for navigating such situations.

Sex to Forget: Does It Really Help to Get Over a Breakup?
Sex to Forget: Does It Really Help to Get Over a Breakup?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About “Sex to Forget”

  1. What is “sex to forget”?

“Sex to forget” refers to the act of engaging in sexual intimacy as a way to distract oneself or cope with the emotional pain, often after a breakup or traumatic event.

  1. Does it actually help in moving on from an ex?

While it can provide temporary relief and distraction, it’s not a long-term solution to emotional pain. For some, it might help in the short term, but for others, it can complicate the healing process.

  1. Is “sex to forget” the same as a rebound relationship?

Not necessarily. A rebound relationship often involves dating or entering a relationship shortly after a breakup, while “sex to forget” might just involve casual intimacy without the intent of starting a relationship.

  1. Is it healthy to use intimacy as a coping mechanism?

It varies from person to person. For some, it can be a way to reclaim autonomy or boost self-esteem. For others, it might delay emotional healing. It’s essential to be self-aware and consider potential emotional repercussions.

  1. How can I ensure I don’t regret my decision later?

Reflect on your motives, set clear boundaries, and communicate openly with your partner. Ensuring mutual consent and understanding can also help prevent regret.

  1. Can “sex to forget” lead to feelings of attachment?

Yes, intimacy can release hormones like oxytocin, known as the bonding hormone. This can lead to feelings of attachment, even if the initial intent was casual.

  1. How do I differentiate between genuine feelings for someone new and feelings stemming from a need for distraction?

It requires self-reflection. Analyze if you’re drawn to the person because of who they are or because they’re merely a distraction from your pain. If unsure, it might be beneficial to take things slow.

  1. Are there alternative ways to cope with a breakup without using intimacy as a distraction?

Absolutely. Therapy, spending time with loved ones, focusing on hobbies, exercising, and joining support groups are all viable ways to cope with emotional pain.

  1. Is it common to compare the new intimate partner with an ex?

Yes, especially if the breakup is recent. This is a natural reaction but can be an indication that one hasn’t fully moved on.

  1. How can I ensure safety during “sex to forget”?

Always practice safe sex, communicate boundaries, ensure mutual consent, and avoid combining intimacy with substances like alcohol or drugs that can impair judgment.

Remember, every individual is different, and what works for one might not work for another. It’s crucial to prioritize emotional well-being and make informed decisions.


Navigating the emotional aftermath of a breakup can be a challenging journey, filled with a multitude of feelings, from sorrow and regret to longing and confusion. The idea of using intimacy as a distraction, often termed “sex to forget,” can seem like a tempting escape for some. It promises a momentary reprieve, a chance to feel desired, and an opportunity to momentarily disconnect from the pain.

From a physiological standpoint, engaging in intimacy releases a cocktail of chemicals in our brains, like oxytocin and dopamine, which can provide temporary comfort. Relationship sex exiting old lovers. However, the efficacy of “sex to forget” as a healing mechanism varies greatly from individual to individual. While it can offer immediate solace for some, it can further complicate the emotional landscape for others.

The potential pitfalls include mistaking physical intimacy for emotional connection, inadvertently delaying the healing process, and confronting a barrage of unexpected feelings, including guilt, regret, or further longing for the past relationship. The journey of healing and moving on is deeply personal, and there’s no one-size-fits-all remedy.

In the end, while “sex to forget” might provide a momentary distraction, it is not a panacea for heartbreak. Genuine healing often requires time, self-reflection, support from loved ones, and sometimes professional guidance. It’s essential to approach post-breakup decisions with self-awareness, ensuring that the chosen path genuinely contributes to emotional well-being and long-term recovery.

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