Following the death of a romantic partner, it is difficult to imagine moving on and being able to enjoy intimacy with someone new. These feelings can be exacerbated in cases where the loss separates lifelong or otherwise long-term couples, a harsh reality that 75-year-old expert on older sexuality Joan Price knows all too well.
After losing the love of her life, Robert Rice, Price fell into a deep state of grief, eventually writing a book with insights from herself and dozens of other widows. In the book, Price covers several myths about intercourse that family and friends often tell grievers, and the truth behind them — so that widows can learn to better move on and experience intimacy again.
Below are some of the most common, paraphrased. For more in Price’s words, check out her book here.
Myth 1: After losing a partner, you don’t miss intercourse, you miss touch. Go hug a friend instead.
Truth: According to Price, if you are a sexual person, you are probably missing more than simple touch. Certain sensations, like sexual arousal and orgasm, cannot be replicated without an intimate partner.
Myth 2: Wait at least a year before having intercourse with a new partner.
Truth: Put simply, no one can make this rule for you! Only you know when you are ready to take the plunge with someone new. Trust your own feelings.
Myth 3: Having intercourse with a new lover means you are betraying your lost love.
Truth: Do not stifle your own happiness and healing by telling yourself that you aren’t allowed to be happy with someone new. Finding comfort and love in another person does not take away from the connection you shared with your departed partner. Your lost love would want you to enjoy life after them.
Myth 4: Before having intercourse again, make sure that you want to spend the rest of your life with this new mate.
Truth: Sometimes, letting one thing lead to another is the natural route to finding your soulmate. Don’t stop the chance for a beautiful connection before it even starts because you’re following a rule that you made for yourself.
Myth 5: Wait until you are finished grieving.
Truth: Grief is not linear; the truth is that your pain may never be “over.” The comfort of another intimate relationship could be just what you need to find peace and happiness again. If your heart is longing for a new connection, don’t be afraid to follow its lead.
Myth #6: There’s a certain point where you must stop wallowing and start dating again.
Truth: No one can tell you when it’s time to move on. Everyone heals at a different pace, and there is nothing wrong with yours, no matter how fast or slow. If you are ready to put yourself out again and seek new romance, go for it. If you aren’t, take all the time you need and practice feeling as whole as you can on your own.
For more on intercourse and romance after grief, read Joan Price’s book, Sex After Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality After Losing Your Beloved.