Sex after heartbreak

Mother of Goo

Gabrielle Funk

After we share our life with another person for a significant period of time and choose to part ways, we must grieve this loss. The initial fear may be loneliness: to be apart from your bedtime companion and the lips you want to kiss after a long, lousy day. But to transition out of this love and familiar touch is a reminder to come home again to ourselves, for we have not left. We were always here, and will always be here.

What a wicked thing to say, ‘you’ve never felt this way’
What a wicked thing to do, to make me dream of you
I don’t want to fall in love.

(Chris Isaak, Wicked Game)

The usual things were said to me after my last heartbreak: “spend time with yourself, date yourself, learn to be alone.” This advice is crucial, but it doesn’t help an insatiable, disappointed libido. I enjoy the warm solitude of fucking myself, but I also want to believe in love again. I need little cues, little hopes and small moments of disorganized passion to whisper a reminder that it’s possible.

Muscle size increases when a person continually challenges the muscles to deal with higher levels of resistance or weight. This process is known as muscle hypertrophy.

(Medical New Today)

What we call a “broken heart” is actually an aching, swollen muscle. That’s why separation from a loved one whose pheromones we are used to smelling can be physically painful. We are mammals and designed to be in groups and partnerships. Attachment is real in the most unbelievably brilliant but despicable way.

Sometimes, I imagine my heart wiping sweat off its furrowed brow after a long session of tearing and rebuilding. It flexes gently and lights up a cigarette. My heart sits down on the curb and stares at the night sky, wondering if anyone will be able to see how soft it is under its veiny strength. “Pain is gain,” my heart whispers to itself, taking a long, sullen drag on its dart.

When the heartbreak is a real doozy, it’s not that we kid ourselves that the next few people we let into our bodies will fill the entire void of that love we had to leave behind. Having sex with new people can be more of a plea to the universe: “please let me be capable of touching another.”

“My best advice for moving on in a relationship is you gotta go all the way through it, you know? ...

... When you get tired enough, you’ll evolve, I promise.”

(Erykah Badu)

There is no formula for processing heartbreak. It’s messy and awful for everyone, despite how others may look online or what you hear from friends of friends. In my experience (which sometimes I wish I had less of), it’s okay to let go and trust the process, even when it’s unclear and uncomfortable.

The most important thing is to not forget yourself during it. Distraction and pleasurable dissociation is fun and fine, but not if it becomes one’s only source of affirmation. We need to be able to find our own affirmation in ourselves. Nothing is sexier than already knowing how delicious and worthy you are, all on your own.

Madeline Rae is a sex educator and writer living on Treaty 1 territory. She holds a BFA in performative sculpture and a BA in psychology, and she is pursuing schooling to specialize in sex therapy. Rae is trained in client-centred sex education, reproductive and sexual health counselling and harm reduction. She works locally in both feminist healthcare and community support work.

Published in Volume 76, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 16, 2021)

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