What’s Rebound Sex Really All About?

A woman having rebound sex with a man after getting broken up with.

We all know the saying, “the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.”  And we’ve all heard of the idea of rebound sex.  But what is it really all about? What exactly is rebound sex and why do so many people crave it at the end of a relationship?

“Rebound sex happens when someone comes out of a long-term relationship and has sex with someone they barely know or have just recently met,” says Sameera Sullivan, relationship expert and founder of Lasting Connections.  “It usually happens right after a previous relationship has ended and the person is extremely sad and broken hearted.”

To put it simply, people engage in rebound sex to get their mind off the previous person they were with.  (OK, this seems obvious.) But did you know that who was dumped and who did the dumping usually determines who’s more likely to look for a rebound?

According to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, those who were dumped by their partner were more distressed and angry and therefore more likely to have sex to cope and to get back at or get over their ex-partner.

Sullivan says that self-esteem is likely the reason behind the study’s findings.

“When someone is dumped, their self-esteem suffers no matter how confident they usually feel. Feelings of anger and sadness and thoughts about your appearance may be questioned. Those who are dumped want to feel like they are wanted by others, and they want attention from the opposite sex,” she says.

According to relationship expert and sexologist, Dr. Nikki Goldstein, this is especially true for women.

“[Women] might self-blame and ask questions such as ’was it me?” Goldstein says. “They may even question their physical appearance and sex-appeal with questions like, ‘am I not attractive enough or good in bed?”

What happens next is that the newly jilted man or woman will go out with their single friends, meet someone who is totally into them, flirt, and usually those flattering feelings lead to the bedroom. Suddenly, the person feels like they’ve gotten their power back and may even fool themselves into thinking they’re over their ex.

“Rebound sex can be a great way for a dumpee to remind themselves that they are still sexually attractive and that there are people out there who think this of them. It not only can lift someone’s mood and put them in a more positive head space, but it also cuts their last emotional ties to their past sexual partner,” says Goldstein.

But, while rebound sex can help someone bounce back in the short-term, this act comes with a bit of warning.

“It should not be used as the only thing to help self-esteem otherwise this pattern will continue and instead of having sex for pleasure and connection, it will purely be about self-esteem and thus sending someone into a sexual situation that might not be right for them,” Goldstein adds.

According to Sullivan, women, more than men, should heed this warning.

“Most of the times, rebound sex happens as a one night stand, which ends up making women more depressed,” says Sullivan. “It can cause more pain, especially if she had sex with someone and then the guy didn’t call her back. For guys, it’s a different story.  It can actually help a guy.”

Rather than only engaging in rebound sex, Sullivan suggests females, especially those who are more sensitive, do things that make their souls (not just their bodies) feel better.

So if it’s really rebound sex you’re after, go for it. Just take the expert advice and know why you’re doing it.

“Prepare yourself that this is just a one-night stand and you are just doing it to have sex and you will never hear from this person again,” says Sullivan.

And remember that when it comes to self-esteem, depending on someone else to make you feel better about yourself isn’t the best idea. Rebound sex can help you rip off the Band-Aid of being with someone new after leaving a relationship, but sex alone isn’t going to help you heal.

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