Rebound sex

The idea of being intimate with someone else can seem like an exciting and effective way to cope with that flurry of post-breakup emotions, but it’s not without its complications. The Mix and SH:24 explore what rebound sex is.

A young person lays on their bed. They look sad and deep in thought.

What is rebound sex?

Rebound sex is commonly known as having sex with someone shortly after a breakup. It can help you cope with the emotional pain or those feelings of loss. For a lot of people, it’s filling a void left over from your ex-partner.

There are many reasons why people choose to have rebound sex, including…

  • Managing your emotions. If you’re missing that connection and intimacy, a sexual encounter could temporarily soothe those feelings of emptiness.
  • Enjoying no strings attached. If you’re just coming out of a long-term relationship, perhaps the idea of some casual sex and the lack of commitment sounds very appealing to you.
  • Exploring your sexuality. Rebound sex can be a great way to try the things you never had the chance to when you were in a relationship.
  • Empowering yourself. A breakup can be a huge knock to your self-esteem. Rebound sex can be the pick-me-up you need to gain your confidence back and start thriving again.

Different ways to have rebound sex

Rebound sex can take many forms. It might be with someone you know, or someone you don’t.

The world of dating apps makes it pretty easy to find a rebound fix, but it’s not without its dangers. This article on online dating from The Mix might help you avoid any unwelcome visitors and find someone who fits the brief.

The lines become a little blurry if you’re thinking of having rebound sex with a familiar face. Whether it’s a friend, or even a mutual friend of your ex-partner’s, think about any repercussions that might surface and ask yourself whether it’s potentially worth impacting that friendship.

The lines are even blurrier if your mission is to sleep with a friend in order to make your ex-partner jealous. This moves away from rebound sex and into revenge sex territory.

Revenge sex has a different motive. It might feel like a wise move to sleep with someone to ‘get back’ at your ex-partner. However, more often than not this causes more pain for the both of you. This could prolong your healing process and complicate existing friendships that were once healthy for you.

Is rebound sex healthy?

The million-dollar question.

Lots of people have their own opinions on whether rebound sex is good for you or not. The truth is…there is no right answer! It’s whether you feel like it’s the right decision, and whether the person you choose to have rebound sex with is the right choice.

However, before you have sex with someone else, perhaps ask yourself this:

‘Will this make me feel good in the long run?’

If the answer is no then it might temporarily fix the pain, but it could make you feel worse.

No matter what you decide to do, it’s important to bear in mind that with any sexual encounter, taking care of your sexual health is essential. There’s nothing worse than finding out you’ve got an STI on top of your heart break, or to interrupt your lie-in to run to the local pharmacy for the morning-after pill.

If you’re worried about STIs and contraception, SH:24 provide quick, easy and confidential (and free!) STI tests and advice 24 hours a day.

Helen Burkitt, a Senior Sexual Health Nurse at SH:24 says: “After a breakup, and before you have sex with anyone new, is a great time to get checked out for STIs. Testing is quick and straightforward, whether you go to the clinic or do a test at home. You’ll get your results fast, so you can be confident you’re taking care of your health and looking out for your future partners.”

What’s the difference between rebound sex and a rebound relationship?

Rebound sex is sex. Whether that’s a one-night stand or friends with benefits – it’s filling that one hole (so to speak).

Rebound relationships are a little more complex. Instead of filling one need, you’re probably trying to fill several.

You’re hoping that your new rebound partner will not only fill those sexual needs, but also those emotional ones too. To find out more about rebound relationships, take a look at our article.

In some cases, rebound sex can lead to a rebound relationship. To avoid this, it’s important to be clear with your new partner from the beginning about what you want (and don’t want). Creating boundaries will help both of you get the best out of your rebound sex and avoid adding further complications to your healing journey.

Despite many people being against it, rebound sex can have its benefits. Just remember that it might help you get over your ex temporarily, but it could just be masking the pain inside you that you need to heal yourself.

Remember, breakups are never easy but they can also be a beautiful lesson. Rebound sex can be a new, exciting experience or prolong your sadness – only you can decide what to do.

Useful resources

  • SH:24 is a free online sexual health service, delivered in partnership with the NHS. They make it easier for you to manage your sexual health by providing free at-home STI test kits across the UK and Ireland.
  • Read articles on a range of relationship topics on The Mix’s Relationship Support Page
  • Our Crisis Messenger provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you’re aged 25 or under, you can text THEMIX to 85258

Next Steps


Updated on 14-May-2024

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