Here’s a fact about me that I deeply regret while also acknowledging its positive influence in my life: I internalized a lot of terrible dating advice growing up. It’s a positive, because without it, I likely wouldn’t be sitting at this coffee shop writing about my dating life for the internet. It’s a negative, because I wound up staying in a lot of relationships longer than I should have, because I thought men treating me like shit meant that they actually liked me—along with a laundry list of other questionable behavior.
But the worst piece of advice I ever encountered was one we’ve parroted to one another for ages: The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else.
No. Nuh-uh. Fuck that shit.
Now, I must admit, I have limited experience in the matter. I’ve only slipped between the sheets with someone in order to get over another person once in my life—and it was a terrible experience. So I may have a personal bias here. But in chatting with friends and experts, it seems like I’m not the only one who thinks that using sex to get over a breakup is a terrible, terrible idea. “When coping with a breakup, it’s important not to make any sudden or extreme decisions,” says Dr. Amie Harwick, MFT. “Often times, the state of mind we are in after a change in our life, especially related to grief, is temporary.”
My state of mind was revenge-focused. My ex and I had ended a relationship on good terms, only to fall into a casual friends-with-benefits situation shortly after. Once I found out he was also sleeping with someone else, I flipped out, thus negating the positivity our initial breakup had cultivated. (This lead to another lesson learned: Don’t fuck an ex after a good breakup, Maria!)
I’m at a point in my life where my emotions are closely tied to sex. That’s not a character flaw. It’s simply an evolution of feelings.
So in order to prove to myself (and, let’s be honest, him) that I, too, could move on quickly, I threw myself into my dating apps. Just two days after our breakup, I was on a date with someone new. And after our fourth date, we slept together. The dude was perfectly fine, but I was not in a place, emotionally, to be giving myself over sexually to someone else. I woke up the morning after we slept together feeling incredibly empty and sad. I couldn’t explain it. It was like all of the emotions I’d felt about the breakup had increased once I slept with someone else. It was the worst kind of rebound in the world.
“It’s not healthy to assume sex with someone else will resolve the feelings left after a relationship with another person,” Harwick says. “An orgasm can feel good, but it cannot solve grief.” I had witnessed that first hand—and selfishly dragged someone through my emotional trauma with me. The guy was a sweetheart, and wanted to continue seeing one another after the fact. But I was so torn up by what the sex had triggered inside of me that I never saw him again.
Since then, I’ve made a rule to not become sexually involved with someone until I feel emotionally ready to do so. Casual sex is fun, but I’m at a point in my life where my emotions are closely tied to sex. That’s not a character flaw. It’s simply an evolution of feelings. But what it has brought up in me is the idea that the worst way to get over someone is to get under someone else.
From now on, I’ll deal with a breakup the “healthy” way—in bed with wine, Netflix, and an 18-inch pizza all to myself.