3 Ways Sex Is Different When You're Single After A Relationship Comes To An End

Of the last eight years of my life, I've been in committed relationships for approximately five and a half and single for the other two and a half. I've had long-distance partners, live-in partners, and long-term hookup buddies, each of whom has taught me to appreciate how sex is different when you're single. For one, single sex gets right to the point, which, after more than half a decade in serious relationships, is refreshing. There are fewer expectations when it comes to things like cuddling, pillow talk, and any other expressions of emotional energy.

Single sex can also be more adventurous, more experimental, and more empowering because it exists outside the norms of a traditional relationship. Sometimes, single sex can just be more for people coming out of relationships that lost their spark, were stuck in a rut, or were simply unfulfilling.

Single sex can be all of these things but it can never really be the same as relationship sex — not even good relationship sex. I'm not saying one is better than the other, just that there are pros and cons depending on your approach to either. Here are the three most noteworthy things I've learned about sex during my two-year reign as a single girl.

You have to seek it out.

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Life is what you make it. I know that. I didn't expect, though, that this would be a sex-related lesson I would learn after getting out of two consecutive long-term relationships. Sex had always just been part of the deal — one of the perks, you know? But as a newly single woman, I quickly realized that I would have to go after what I wanted, which was casual, relatively unattached sex.

That meant (and still does) meeting new people, running my own totally professional background checks on them, scheduling dates, showing up to said dates, and, oh yeah, making it to the end of the dates. I'm sure not everyone puts this much effort into it, but I have a hard time being intimate with people I know absolutely nothing about. Preliminary prep alone could set me back by at least a week or two and, if I'm being honest, the whole thing is kind of exhausting.

There's no satisfaction guarantee.

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Relationship sex can feel a little rehearsed but that's what makes it comfortable and reliable (sometimes). In my experience, the longer you're together, the better you and your partner know what turns each of you on, which isn't the case when you're hooking up with a near stranger.

Luckily, there's an upside to this. If you find yourself in bed with someone you don't know that well or with whom you can't imagine a future, you might be less afraid to give them step-by-step instructions. Go for it! In this scenario, sex is what you make it.

You think every itch is ~the itch~.

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Ah, yes, the occasional STD scare. This isn't a bad thing at all. Many STDs are treatable and, even if they aren't, you can still have safe and fulfilling sex with the right precautions. But you'll need to be diagnosed first. If you have multiple sexual partners, you should get tested before and after every new partner for your sake and your partners'. Casual sex doesn't mean careless sex. In fact, it should mean the exact opposite.

Don't wait for symptoms to arise or for a text from last month's random urging you to get checked out. As a single woman, you should take charge of your sexual health just as boldly as you've taken charge of your sexual freedom.

And if single sex isn't your thing, remember that you can always opt for solo sex. For inspiration, just quote that one line in "Single Ladies" by Beyoncé: "I'm doing my own little thing." You got this.