Sex after divorce: Does it get better?
January 19th, 2012
07:15 AM ET

Sex after divorce: Does it get better?

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him on his website, GoodInBed.

“If I hadn’t gotten divorced, I never would have had the top five sexual experiences of my life,” gushed Tom, a friend of a friend at a recent holiday party.

What a turnaround! In 2010, at the same party, Tom* had been in the midst of splitting up with his wife of 12 years and I was offering him the names of marriage counselors. Now he was bankrupt and only saw his kids every other week, but he was exuberant about the change to his sex life.

“I’d given up on sex and fooled myself into thinking that I wasn’t even a particularly sexual person,” he explained. “I didn’t want to be the sort of guy who cheated, so I resigned myself to lackluster sex every other week... if I was lucky. We were so young and inexperienced when we got married. Now, for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m approaching sex as a confident adult.”

Does sex get better after divorce? Unfortunately, there haven’t been any formal studies that explore levels of post-divorce sexual satisfaction, but intrigued by Tom’s exuberance, I spoke with a handful of recently divorced friends, colleagues, and former patients. To my surprise, I found that many echo Tom’s enthusiasm.

While divorce and its adjustments aren’t easy, many newly single people say they are seeing its silver lining … in sex.

Dr. Andy Trees, author of "A Scientific Guide to Successful Dating," says Internet dating has really changed the game.

“Divorced people find it much easier to get back in the saddle so to speak," Trees said. "I also think this is a classic case of the power of chemistry in the early months. Sex with someone new is always exciting in a way that sex with a familiar partner isn't (which isn't to say that long-term sexual intimacy doesn't have pluses as well).”

“At first I was cautious," said Sandra*, 38. "Our culture treats divorced people like babies or wounded birds. Everyone says things like ‘Take it slow, be careful, you’re still getting over a painful situation.' And all this advice made me feel unsure of myself. But after my first post-divorce hookup - and first orgasm in years - I realized that this bird has wings and it’s time to soar!”

Says Kristen Mark, a sex researcher at Indiana University, “When sexual desires aren’t being met for a long period of time, you can feel really trapped, like the real you isn’t able to shine.”

Adds psychicatrist Gail Saltz, “Embedded in divorce sex is the knowledge that your partner has in essence rejected you, or at least let you go, and part of hot sex is the unconscious desire to show them what a mistake they made by not keeping you.”

Sometimes life after divorce can reinforce a person’s libido type or help them discover what they like and don’t like, as is the case with David*, 39, twice married and divorced: “It took me two marriages to realize that I like a lot of sexual excitement and experimentation, but I’m also a romantic. I believe in marriage and monogamy, but if and when I get married again ... it’s going to be with a woman who enjoys the kinkier side of life.”

The enjoyment of sex after divorce may also have something to do with a sense of deserving a bit of hard-earned sexual selfishness.

Take Karen*, 38, who says, “I’d always heard that women experience their sexual prime later in life, but I never understood that. The more I was in my marriage and the older I got, the less sexual I felt. Then I got divorced and started having casual sex again. For the first time in a long time I was with men who were making an effort to pleasure me and discover what I liked, and I wasn’t shy or bashful about letting them know. I am having a sexual peak, but it’s not physical, it’s mental.”

With all the fun to be had, is there a downside? And are there any best practices for sex after divorce?

“Watch out for too much too soon,” says, Lance*, 42. “After my divorce, I was like a kid in a candy store. There were women everywhere. And a lot of them were willing to have sex. Suddenly, I was a womanizer.”

He continues, a bit remorseful: “Be honest with the person you’re with. What are you looking for from the sex? I don’t want to get married again, or be in a serious relationship right now, and I need to be clearer about that up front before having sex with someone.”

Remember, too, that just because you’re divorced doesn’t mean you’re necessarily wiser. “Practice safe sex,” says Mara*, 58. “My best friend and I both got divorced at the same time and were there for each other. We’re both well past the age of having kids. But I always use protection, and she doesn’t. I try to tell her that STDs are still a real possibility.”

Sex educator Amy Levine confirms that advice. “When ‘you don't know what you don't know’ a lack of sexual knowledge can put someone at risk for a range of STDs. For those that were married for quite a while, sex ed after divorce is imperative!"

And be cautious if you have children. “Don’t bring your fun home if there are kids in the house,” says Trish*. “I want to get married again, and I want my daughter to have a loving stepfather someday. But I’m going to make sure he’s really the one before I bring anyone home.”

There’s one thing everyone agrees on, in theory, if not always in practice: Avoid sex with your ex. Says Tom, who got this whole ball rolling, “I couldn’t believe it. Jackie* and I would be with our lawyers, fighting viciously about money or kids - and then we’d leave and go have hot crazy sex. It was really confusing. Why couldn’t it have been like that when we were married?”

*Names have been changed

soundoff (661 Responses)
  1. Kbbfseelt

    viagra sources viagra/overnight shipping generic viagra with dapoxetine 160mg x 16 tabs

    February 13, 2021 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. raoult coronavirus

    natural chloroquine clonidin cloriquine

    February 13, 2021 at 09:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. FbsgZisse

    buy cialis with prescription australia vigra and cialis no prescription generic cialis

    February 14, 2021 at 02:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. LabxEncox

    wat is beter viagra cialis alfuzosin und cialis viagra kamagra+cialis eladГі

    February 14, 2021 at 04:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. JbbnEncox

    where to buy cialis in melbourne cialis pas cher cialis how fast does it work

    February 15, 2021 at 05:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. JbnvCrulk

    payday loans in la marque tx american cash advance lima ohio long term loans and advances definition

    February 16, 2021 at 19:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. NbnhZisse

    sildenafil tab 50mg cost http://vigedon.com/ where can you get viagra over the counter

    February 18, 2021 at 12:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. sex tips for men

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Thank you!
    Exactly where are your contact details though?

    Also visit my web site sex tips for men

    February 19, 2021 at 20:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. testosterone naturally

    Thanks for some other informative web site. The place else could I get that
    type of info written in such a perfect approach? I've a mission that I am simply now running on, and I have been at
    the look out for such information.

    Here is my web site; testosterone naturally

    February 19, 2021 at 20:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. sex tips

    Hello friends, nice post and pleasant urging commented here, I am truly
    enjoying by these.

    Also visit my webpage ... sex tips

    February 19, 2021 at 20:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. great sex in marriage

    Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Spending some time and
    actual effort to produce a great sex in marriage article?

    but what can I say? I hesitate a whole lot and never seem to get anything done.

    February 19, 2021 at 23:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. dhea testosterone

    What's up, I log on to your blogs daily. Your writing style is awesome, keep
    up the good work!

    Feel free to visit my blog: dhea testosterone

    February 20, 2021 at 02:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. enhance male libido

    Awesome article.

    Feel free to visit my web blog: enhance male libido

    February 20, 2021 at 06:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. build muscle

    Howdy would you mind letting me know which webhost you're using?
    I've loaded your blog in 3 different browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot quicker
    then most. Can you suggest a good hosting provider at a honest price?

    Thank you, I appreciate it!

    Also visit my webpage ... build muscle

    February 21, 2021 at 07:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. low libido

    Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say
    that I've truly loved browsing your weblog posts.
    After all I will be subscribing on your rss feed
    and I hope you write again very soon!

    My website – low libido

    February 21, 2021 at 20:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. fat loss

    Hey, you used to write excellent, but the last several posts have been kinda boring...
    I miss your tremendous writings. Past several posts
    are just a little out of track! come on!

    Look into my site :: fat loss

    February 21, 2021 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. covid cure

    what is hydroxychloroquine sulfate what is hydrochlorothiazide hydroxychloroquine 400 mg

    February 21, 2021 at 22:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. boost libido

    This is very interesting, You're a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your wonderful post.
    Also, I have shared your web site in my social networks!

    my webpage boost libido

    February 22, 2021 at 02:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. build muscle fast

    Thanks for your marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading
    it, you may be a great author. I will remember to bookmark your blog
    and will eventually come back very soon. I want to
    encourage that you continue your great writing, have a nice holiday weekend!

    Here is my webpage build muscle fast

    February 22, 2021 at 02:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. please a woman

    whoah this weblog is excellent i love studying your articles.

    Stay up the good work! You already know, many persons are searching around for
    this information, you can aid them greatly.

    Feel free to surf to my webpage ... please a woman

    February 22, 2021 at 06:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. better sex in marriage

    Wonderful post however , I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more
    on this subject? I'd be very thankful if you could
    elaborate a little bit further. Many thanks!

    my blog post – better sex in marriage

    February 22, 2021 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.