The Web address of this article is
Clicking underlined links here will open a
new window. Other links will open an informational popup,
so please turn off your
browser's popup blocker or allow popups from this nonprofit Web site.
Follow underlined links after
finishing this article to avoid getting lost.
This is one of a series of lesson-6 articles
on effective parenting during parental divorce.
These articles augment, vs. replace, other
Sexual desire for your ex mate may not stop when you separate. Strong emotions that come up during separation,
divorce, and afterward - like anger explosions - can trigger gusts of sexual
One of you may act seductive
towards your ex for several reasons.
These can cause a relationship
"problem" when someone feels that your or your ex spouse's sexual
fantasies or behaviors significantly interfere with...
security and priorities - e.g. if either of you stalks or
harasses the other;
effectively after separation;
ex-mate lust is significant if it...
some adult or child from fully
grieving (accepting) the major
caused by your separation and divorce, over time;
or if it causes one of you to...
use a child, relative,
as a sexual spy, confidant, or messenger
ex-mate lust is a problem if it...
stresses a new partnership by causing
suspicion, resentment, and/or jealousy.
These problems are not
about sexual fantasies or impulses,
they're about how ex-mate lust affects your wholistic health, behaviors,
priorities, kids, key relationships, and family functioning.
I assume you're reading this because one or more of these situations applies
to you, or you want to support someone struggling with "an ex-mate lust
problem." What do you need - clarification? Information? Problem-solving
options? Try saying out loud why
you're reading this article.
Note - if part of your problem is a new partner feeling
jealous and/or distrustful of you
(relative to you and your ex), follow the links after you finish reading
As with most family role and relationship problems,
between ex mates indicates underlying
Trying to reduce the surface problems (symptoms) may cause temporary
changes, but won't fill
primary needs. What can
fill them is identifying, owning, and
The Primary Problems
Looking below typical surface "sexual problems"
between divorced partners usually reveals some mix of these...
or both of you deny sexual feelings for your ex mate, or
you deny that such feelings and related behaviors are causing significant
stress in or between your family members. Similar
reality distortions are...
minimizing ("Well, yeah - but no big
analyze why this
sexual problem exists..."), and...
your fault: you keep coming on to me").
Each of these suggests significant
and a disabled true Self in one or both of
receive sexual signals (language, flirting, invitations,...)
from your former mate, and/or you send them such signals -
and feel confused about
your own feelings ("I'm
kinda turned on - and I feel guilty and uncomfortable, too.")
false self controls
your perceptions, thoughts, feelings, and behavior. That often causes the
ambivalent person (you) to give confusing
double (mixed) messages to
their ex - like saying with a grin or a playful voice-tone "Stop coming on to me!"
Internal (personal) confusion breeds confusion between ex mates and
3) Another possible primary problem is
one or both of you don't know how
4) One or both of you - and/or a new partner -
that "(extra- marital) sexual thoughts, feelings, and fantasies are
bad." Unexamined black/white beliefs like this can
shame, guilts, and
anxieties. If ignored,
these will degrade your wholistic health and your family relations.
This is a kind ofvalues conflict. This brief YouTube video
offers perspective on this idea. The video mentions eight lessons in this
self-improvement Web site - I've reduced that to seven.
Another possibility is...
or both of you is
not finished mourning
the many losses (broken
bonds) from your separation, divorce, and family reorganizing into two or more
homes. If so, the primary problems are usually psychological wounds + ignorance
of grieving basics +
lack of internal and/or family
''permission'' to grieve well.
Lessons 1-3 can reduce these,
last possible root of your "ex-mate sexual problem" may be...
6) One or both of you ex mates has a sexual
so, excessive sexual fantasies or obsessions about an ex mate is probably part of a
larger pattern of compulsively over-sexualizing relationships and
events and denying that to yourself and others. This
may be amplified by a relationship
My clinical experience is that any harmful
significant early-childhood trauma and psychological wounds. One
symptom of a true addiction is fierce
denial of the compulsive dependency and it's obvious personal and social impacts.
Diagnosing and managing sexual
addiction is beyond the scope of this
article and series. Libraries, and Internet and physical book sellers and local mental-health centers can
help you learn more about
assessing and managing addictions.
Do you have a
"significant sexual problem" with your ex mate? If so, let's
You've already taken the first option, which is to acknowledge that you and/or an important other has "a
(sexual) problem." Other choices include...
learn more now, and
develop more options;
defer any action to "later;" or...
accept things the way they are now, with or without significant discomfort.
If you choose the first of these,
Ignore the primary problems, and attempt to resolve your
If you do this, I suspect that months or years from now, you'll admit that your
"problem" is the same or worse, or that it has manifested in another part
of your life. Pursuing surface solutions
teaches you long term what won't work, and what the core
People make permanent belief and priority
changes when they finally
exceed their limits for
(''hit bottom''), and have proved that superficial changes don't fill their needs for long.
Or you may...
Research the primary problems above
to see if they apply to your situation. Options:
paralyzingambivalences about your sexual (and other)
procrastinating, and intellectualizing (defenses);
confusion about your
boundaries, (limits) and anxiety about
choosing immediate gratification over
long-term serenity; and...
double messages to your ex, and harvesting doubt,
frustration, and distrust.
What would your life be like
if you could significantly reduce these? Note that over-sexualizing
relationships and situations (or repressing normal sexual thoughts and
impulses) may indicate some significant childhood sexual trauma and/or
If you feel your ex mate is
psychologically wounded, see these options.
To learn if
you're unclear on your sexual (and other) boundaries
with your ex mate, describe...
what specific behaviors of
theirs "upset" you,
what specific behavioral changes
you need them to make, and...
specifically what actions you'll
take if they choose not to change after you've
requested or demanded that
they do so.
Specific here means some
behavior you could capture with a audio or video recorder. You can't
record "being a jerk" (a judgment). You can record "using
sexually-offensive language with me," Use this
article as a resource.
To improve your communicationeffectiveness with your ex
- like asserting your needs and boundaries -
read and apply
article. To expand communication options with your ex about sexual or other
relationship issues, try
usual communication sequence with them on specific topics (including
"we don't talk about it"). Does your sequence qualify as effective
communication? If not, use these blocks and
tips to make it more effective.
Option: get quiet and try mapping your subselves' usual
dialog sequence (thoughts, feelings, and images) when they're focusing on your "sexual problem" with
your ex mate. Are your subselves
communicating effectively? Your Self can improve your
outcomes, once s/he's trusted to lead your other
subselves and they all know these
assess whether incomplete grief in you or your ex is contributing
to your "sexual problem,"
Your subselves' beliefs about sensuality and sexual morality may be
shame, and/or anxiety. If so, this suggests the need for personal
from psychological wounds, and the need to examine beliefs like those
above to see if they're yours or someone else's (like your parents, a
religious book or teacher, or a partner).
If you're using someone else's
beliefs out of habit or duty, replace them with your beliefs,
and see if that improves your situation.
this article and give copies to your ex mate andrelevant others for information
and/or as a resource for some action
you want to take;
yourself to reread this
article on some future date (when?),
to evaluate your progress on any action-options you choose;
Use parts work to identify which
of your subselves are triggered by some sexual aspect of you
and your ex mate. Then learn what each activated subself thinks, feels,
and needs. Do any of them
disable your Self
reactions with your ex? Learn more about your subselves and parts work
in part 3 of online
Lesson 1 here. If you feel you
have a sexual obsession, see this parts-work
strategy for reducing
article is for people - specially parents - who are troubled by sexual feelings or
behaviors with an ex
The article proposes practical options for identifying the primary
"sexual problems" you have with your ex mate, and specific
options for reducing them.