Skip to content

Health & Sex

Font Size

Sex Ed for the Suddenly Single

Experts help the newly single cope with changing sexual attitudes.
WebMD Feature

Jilted, bereaved, liberated, or just moving on, every year millions of men and women say goodbye to a long-term relationship -- often one they had been committed to for decades. For the newly single, starting to have sex with new partners can be fraught with hazards.

You maybe in for the time of your life, but you also face issues that probably haven't crossed your mind in a long time: disease risks, pregnancy risks, and the risk of embarrassment.

Recommended Related to Sex & Relationships

Sharing Your Sex Fantasies With your Partner: Sizzler or Fizzler?

You've been sharing a bed with the same partner for years. By now you know each other's sleeping habits inside and out, right down to the exact room temperature and sleeping position preferred. But how well do you know what it takes to turn on your partner? There's one way to find out -- by sharing your most intimate sex fantasies. An open exchange of erotic fantasies can help rekindle the flames -- or can they? Here's what sex experts say on the subject.

Read the Sharing Your Sex Fantasies With your Partner: Sizzler or Fizzler? article > >

Remember all that? Welcome back.

Relearning the Ropes

There's no point in worrying you might catch something if you don't make a move on someone. Even if you were a smooth seducer way back when, you have to dust off your knowledge of how to initiate sex with someone else.

"Couples develop their own shorthand about almost everything," says Carol Queen, PhD, a sex educator and director of continuing education at Good Vibrations, the San Francisco sex-toy emporium.

You're used to communicating in the sexual shorthand of your old relationship. A certain look, phrase, or touch meant that sex was a go, or clearly meant no. When it comes to initiating sex with a new partner, you have to watch carefully for signals that things are headed that way.

What's more, prepare yourself for surprises once you get there.

"We come to think we know what sex means," Queen tells WebMD.

But you only know what sex means to you, and it's a definition you developed over many years with one person. Maybe to you sex is slow and tender, whereas for your new partner, it's loud and athletic. The differences can range from slight to vast, but there will be differences.

"Being with a new person is like learning to play a new instrument," Lou Paget, a sex educator and author of books such as The Great Lover Playbook and Hot Mamas, tells WebMD

Brace for Culture Shock

During the years that you were out of circulation, you may not have registered some of the changes in people's attitudes about sex.

Yes, many people were sexually free back in the '70s. But Queen says she thinks even then, sex tended to center on men's pleasure. Over the past few decades, women's pleasure has moved closer to center stage. Thirty years ago, a man might have prided himself on knowing where the clitoris was located. Now he's got to be an expert on what to do with it.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

couple not communicating
How to tell when you're in one.
couple face to face
Get your love life back on track.
couple having an argument
Turn spats into solutions
couple in argument
When to call it quits.
Life Cycle of a Penis
HIV Myth Facts
How Healthy is Your Sex Life
Couple in bed
6 Tips For Teens
Close-up of young man
screening tests for men
HPV Vaccine Future