Rebound or closure sex or...? Help me identify it
January 10, 2017 9:05 PM   Subscribe

I find it difficult to break up with someone, so there's often a phase where I try to be 'platonic friends' but we go back to normal and then I try to break up again and repeat and repeat. At this point, the relationship is pretty bad for both me and the ex as we fight a lot but I simply cannot get over my feelings for the ex (is this codependency?).

Then in an effort to cut off the relationship permanently, I sleep with someone intentionally*. I don't enjoy the hookup (it's very functional for me) but afterwards I feel detached from the ex. Oftentimes, the ex also finds it impossible to move on from. So either my feelings for the ex decrease significantly, or the ex moves on.

This has happened to me about 4 times before. I never read about this anywhere and don't understand why I'm the only one who seems to do it (often times people hook up wanting to have multiple partners, not to have zero partners). I want to understand this on a psychological level as I have therapy-type issues and I think this might help. How do you categorize this type of sex? Is this a subset of rebound sex, or something different? A kind of avoidant-type behavior?

*Please note that I am very upfront with that person that it is casual, and I do not lead the person on.
posted by thesockpuppet to Human Relations (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My friends and I call this 'leverage dick'. It is super common in our world. It's the penis (for us, parts irrelevant) that helps you get out of one situation and on to future ones.

My uniformed opinion of why this happens: distraction, you want to require yourself there is sex available to you from other sources, breaking the association between your ex and sexy fun time and putting it somewhere else, ego boost or a secret 'fuck you'. All depends on the circumstances I guess.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 9:24 PM on January 10, 2017 [11 favorites]

This is definitely A Thing. It just needs a catchy name.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 10:04 PM on January 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I once had a two-night stand with a woman who in hindsight was almost certainly doing this same thing. Her apartment was disheveled in that "either someone just moved out, or you just moved in" way, and her demeanor, while coquettish when we met, was more distant than I am used to in a sexytimes context. I chalk it up to a form of rebound.
posted by rhizome at 10:09 PM on January 10, 2017

This is 100% standard "the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else."
posted by DarlingBri at 10:28 PM on January 10, 2017 [29 favorites]

A palate cleanser.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 10:49 PM on January 10, 2017 [12 favorites]

We call it the 'crowbar' encounter in that it pries you off somebody else.
posted by Thella at 10:54 PM on January 10, 2017 [8 favorites]

My comment should read 'you want to *remind* yourself there is sex available'. It was a furtive little comment on my mobile at work.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 12:56 AM on January 11, 2017

I think maybe a tiny part of the setting-the-building-on-fire approach [fucking someone new, making return unimaginable] is co-dependency. I have found the power of saying what I want or don't want developing slowly after learning about co-dependency and the habits of co-dependents. We might never feel we are entitled to say 'no' or 'leave' or to make mentally calm exits from even unsatisfactory attachment.
posted by honey-barbara at 3:35 AM on January 11, 2017

I never read about this anywhere and don't understand why I'm the only one who seems to do it

Lots and lots of people in failing relationships who don't want to initiate a formal breakup will cheat on their partners with random people, in order to either give themselves an excuse to break up or to kickstart themselves into the idea of being with someone else or with the hope of getting caught so that their partner breaks up with THEM and they don't have to deal with it. Obviously that's not exactly what's going on here, the fact that you've (semi) broken up makes it not cheating, but it's probably coming from the same place.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:09 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I sleep with someone intentionally*. I don't enjoy the hookup (it's very functional for me) but afterwards I feel detached from the ex.

this is the part that makes it different from regular old fucking a new person to get over the old one. It would be a great technique if you enjoyed it but it sounds distressing, like a thing you have to inflict on yourself to alter yourself.

This is not something I do, considered specifically, but if you extend it to the broader technique of putting yourself in intolerable circumstances to force your own hand because you can't trust your own will, it is. I think the ideal resolution would be to believe that the over-you who decides to do this, who has their priorities straight, is the same you as the you who doesn't enjoy it and doesn't feel capable of breaking things off without this extra push to nail the door shut: since it's all the same You, you can do what you want (break up) without being forced into it (by yourself.)

as to HOW you would do this, I can't say.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:12 AM on January 11, 2017

Thank you! It makes me feel better to know that it's something-people-do, although it manifests differently depending on the person.
posted by thesockpuppet at 9:42 AM on January 11, 2017

I see this as a fairly cowardly way to break up with someone. You purposely do something really hurtful with the hope they'll be the one to end things with you because for whatever reason, you can't pull the trigger.

You're describing all of this as though you have no choice or agency in your life. This didn't "happen" to you four times before. You're the person who made these things happen.

If I were you, I wouldn't question if this is a "thing;" I would question why you can't break up with someone for good and why you refer to cheating on your partner as a thing that just "happens."
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:44 PM on March 31, 2017 [1 favorite]

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