Revenge Sex: Does It Hurt or Heal

“I was happily married to a child sweetheart for 5 years. My life came crashing down the day when I came to know about my husband’s extramarital affair. I remember that day very vividly. My close friend called me and asked me to urgently meet. But she refrained to share any reason on the phone. When we met, she handed me over her phone that had, to my utter shock, my husband’s Tinder profile. I was heartbroken, devastated at how he had cunningly duped me all these years around. 

Sex between us had really dwindled by then and I had even had an abortion, since we both decided not to have kids. I had asked him on few occasions about our waning sex life, but he would always evade the topic. I stayed patient thinking he was stressed out with work and that time would mend matters. His affair was a real punch on my face, my self-worth, my trust, and it took me months to heal from it. 

But I never told him that I knew about his affairs.

It has been three years since I’ve known about his affair, and yes, I am still married to him. Being a divorced, young Indian woman is not easy. Plus, I am going to be honest here, and say, I just could not get myself to let go of the social status, financial luxuries I enjoy. How easy life is as long as I’m married, minus the affair part. 

Although he was the love of my life, my reasons to stay loyal to a broken marriage have now completely crashed. I ended up having sex with an old friend I met for business purposes. I followed that with sexual encounters with two more men because I wanted to know that I am still desirable, attractive, and sexually functional. Those men reinstated my faith in myself. But now, I have grown addicted to having affairs and I am having way more affairs than my husband. He still doesn’t know any of this.”

I counselled this client few months back. Her story was unique, but the reasons are not.

Extramarital affairs happen for many, many reasons. Sexuality is a complex experience shared by two people and there are a range of motivations why people indulge in extramarital sex. In this case, the woman wanted sexual validation and seek revenge on her philandering husband.

We have all gone through relationship issues, breakdowns and the hurt and pain! Being betrayed by one’s life-partner is among one of the life’s most devastating experiences. Surely, we cannot put a measuring tape to that. The pain is truly intense and with it, sometimes come scornful actions like: Revenge Sex! What revenge sex means to you depends on your motivation for doing it. 

Some people just want to get back at the person who hurt them. There is an intense need to inflict pain on the one who cheated. Sex may be the way you choose to vent your frustration and anger after an irrevocable relationship breakdown—in this woman’s case, it is emotional disengagement. When the other person decides to end the relationship, it can make you feel powerless. Some people have revenge sex to feel a sense of control in the situation.

Others do it to get over someone. Falling into the arms of someone else can act as a temporary painkiller. After romantic rejection, it isn’t unusual to want an ego boost. Revenge sex may be a way to help you move on after feeling trapped in or having trouble letting go of a relationship. You might see sex with someone else as a fresh start. 

While in many cases, revenge sex can work positively at least temporarily (making you feel desirable again, helping you move on and venting out the anger), it is not a lasting solution. In many cases, on the slightest of hiccups in a relationship, people jump onto bed with someone else. We all remember Ross and Rachel from FRIENDS. Make sure to get a closure by talking it out, deciding your next course of action. Do not sleep around with friends as this will cause a fiasco of muddled relationships and boundaries. And you have had enough tragedy already! 

The biggest pitfall is the shame and regret that comes after it. If we fall into revenge sex, we may feel conflict with our ideals, ethics, and self-hatred when the sun comes out the next day. So, before you jump into bed with someone else, weigh the pros and cons intelligently. It’s easy to get swayed, especially when you are hurt. Take some time out. Figure out your emotions. Make sure you know yourself, your needs, and what you can and can’t handle. 

The ISIS (Integrated Sexuality and Spirituality) model developed by late sex therapist Gina Ogden is helpful in delineating the complexities one experiences in their sexual and romantic relationships. The model states that sex is more than a physical experience: It encompasses, physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional aspects and all these paths are likely to twist, turn, and bend. To process your feelings and clarify confusion, you can seek professional sex therapy/ coaching support to find visible connection as well as distinctions between these 4 aspects of mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical that drive your behaviour, thought process, and actions.  

About the Writer: Pallavi Barnwal

Pallavi Barnwal is a certified sexuality coach and founder of the sex-positive platform Get Intimacy. She specializes in helping people gain courage to talk openly about sex and relationships and equipping them with actionable tips and skills so they can start having more pleasure both inside and outside their bedroom.  She has been featured in a variety of magazines, newspapers, and online articles as a sexpert – Huffington Post, India Today, Vogue, The Hindu, Dainik Bhaskar, Indian Express, The Times OfIndia, BBC, Deccan Chronicle, Femina, and more. 

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