How Texting A Sex And Relationships Coaching App Helped Me Process My First Real Breakup

by Laken Howard
Laken Howard/Bustle

When it comes to healing after a breakup, there's no one right way to go about it — and it's not exactly something that gets easier with time. But as someone who recently went through my very first breakup, I'll readily admit that I really had no idea where to start when it came to dealing with all the emotions wrapped up in my first relationship's demise. Enter: Juicebox, an app that provides one-on-one sex and relationships coaching right in the palm of your hand. I was offered the chance to try the app for free for a month (their "unlimited chat" option is typically $24/week), and figured why not give it a shot?

In the past, I’ve had a hard time processing rejection and dealing with even “minor” breakups (such as being ghosted after just a few weeks of dating). Needless to say, I didn’t know how I’d react to my first real breakup, and I wanted to make sure I was able to deal with any confusing or difficult feelings that came up in a healthy way. I might be a sex and relationships writer, and the split was an amicable one, but that doesn't mean I have all the answers for navigating something as tricky as a first breakup all on my own — and if it would help me process my feelings and heal faster, then I was all for it.

How Juicebox's One-On-One Coaching Works

Laken Howard/Bustle

When you sign up for Juicebox, you go through a short onboarding process where they ask you for some basic personal info — like your age, gender identity, orientation, and relationship status — then you’re asked to rate your dating and sexual satisfaction. You’re also asked to share what specifically you want help with, whether that’s dealing with a breakup (like yours truly), having more satisfying sex with your partner, or navigating online dating for the first time.

Juicebox takes all this information and uses it to match you with a coach who will be the best fit for your personal needs. After you fill out a couple short assessments for your coach (mine were about my dating goals and sexual interests), the real one-on-one work begins.

Week 1

Laken Howard/Bustle

After being matched with my coach, Gwyn, she messaged me to fill me in on how the one-on-one text coaching works: she responds once a day, usually in the afternoon, but I’m free to message as much or as little as I want. I ended up texting her a couple times a week, but some people message their coach daily or only once a week or so — it's totally up to you!

To get some insight into how she could help me, Gwyn started off by asking me to tell her all I could about what brought me to Juicebox. My answer? I want guidance to help me move on in a healthy way, and to figure out what I want to do differently when it comes to dating going forward. I gave her some background on my last relationship and the breakup, which was caused by my impending move from New York to Chicago, and she responded by asking a few more clarification questions, but also threw some thought-provoking questions my way, like asking what I think I might be looking for when I *do* feel ready to start dating again.

I found that Gwyn’s questions allowed me to reflect on my relationship in a more objective way, instead of letting my emotions guide my thought process. One of the first things she asked me was how I'd react if the "perfect" guy walked into my life tomorrow, and questions like that enabled me to really think about what caused my breakup, and what I wanted to be different in my next partner/relationship. It was also nice to have someone affirm that I am doing OK after my breakup — to the newly single, a little reassurance that you’re on the path to healing can be very helpful!

How I Felt At The End Of Week One: Hopeful! Although I don’t feel like I’ve had the chance to really dive deep into my post-breakup thoughts and feelings with Gwyn yet, it’s nice to know I have someone I can message — other than my friends and fam, of course — about anything related to my ex, the breakup, or sex and relationships as a whole. Better yet, it’s someone who’s trained to help me sort through my mixed emotions, and give me tools to succeed at dating in the future. The only drawback to text coaching that I’ve seen thus far is that it felt a bit daunting to have to type out *all* the background details of my relationship in order to give Gwyn adequate info to help me. It'd be great if users could do a quick phone consultation before the text coaching begins!

Week 2

My focus for week two? Sex! After a breakup, it can be difficult to imagine being intimate with someone new, and that’s definitely not a step I’m ready to take in the near future, but it’s still something that’s been on my mind. Since my breakup, I’ve found myself thinking about sex more and more — how it became kind of routine and monotonous with my ex, and how I’d like my sex life to look different with my next partner. I’ve always wanted a partner who I felt totally sexually comfortable with, someone who I could experiment with and feel safe and at ease. I naively thought that would come naturally with any long-term relationship, but in all honesty, that feeling never really came with my ex. But at least now I know that I definitely want to experience that comfort with my next partner!

I’ve also been thinking about how I view sex as a single woman, and how that might have changed since being in my first long-term relationship. While dating in the past, I was so eager to form an intimate connection and find a partner that I’d often have sex with dates pretty early on, seeing it as a way for us to connect. Though there’s nothing wrong with that mindset, I have to wonder whether I’ll actually be less likely to have sex with people in the first few dates, now that I have a relationship under my belt and don’t feel as much pressure to settle down. I won’t know until I’m actually starting to date again (which is still a ways away!), but it’s helpful to think about the role of sex in my dating life, and realize that it’s OK to change how you view sex after a breakup.

This week, I’ve mostly been chatting with Gwyn about feeling sexy again after my breakup. She encouraged me to dive into that feeling by getting dressed up and going out with my friends and doing some flirting just for the sake of it — with no expectations or pressure to take anyone home. Even though I don’t feel ready to hop into bed with someone new just yet, I’ve felt like my sex drive has taken an upward turn post-breakup (it had dipped during the end of my relationship), and it’s been exciting to feel more like my confident, sex-hungry self again! Overall, I’ve felt excited by the realization that I’m craving intimacy again, and relieved that the prospect of eventually meeting new people and having sex is appealing to me, rather than something that scares me.

How I Felt At The End Of Week Two: Flirty and sexy! Even though I might not be looking for a rebound right now, I feel like I have a new outlook on sex as a whole, and am eager to see how sex plays a role in my future dating life. It was great to get some reassurance from Gwyn that feeling sexy again is an important step in healing from a breakup — and it’s comforting and energizing to feel like I’m on the right path forward!

Week 3

Laken Howard/Bustle

This week was super important for me, because it was my first time seeing some of my closest friends since my breakup. We took a weekend trip to Buffalo, NY and spent two days just hanging out, boating, and catching up. Two of these friends live in Chicago — where we went to school and where I’ll be moving soon — and seeing them was an awesome reminder of why I made the choice to leave NYC. But if I'm being honest with myself, being closer to my friends isn't the only thing that influenced that decision. After all, if I’d truly been happy with my ex and was invested in the future of our relationship, moving away might not even have crossed my mind.

Gwyn encouraged me to spend time this weekend “refilling my emotional batteries” and enjoying the company of my friends — people who love and care about me, and who know me as well as I know myself. Even though we didn’t spend hours dissecting my breakup in person this weekend (honestly, we’d done that via text and FaceTime weeks ago!), it was still healing just to be around them. Above all, it made me excited for my future — a feeling that's always welcome with a recent heartbreak in the rearview mirror.

How I Felt At The End Of Week 3: Like myself again! As cliche as this advice might have sounded to me a few weeks ago, I've learned that spending time with your best friends really is one of the healthiest things you can do post-breakup. For the first time in a long time, I felt like my old, carefree self — and being around my BFFs was a reminder that I don't need to be in a relationship to feel happy and fulfilled.

Week Four

Laken Howard/Bustle

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a month since I started this journey — and that it’s been even longer since my breakup. If I’m being totally honest, I already feel “over” my ex for the most part, which I feel is pretty telling of the state of our relationship towards the end. Because it was my first long-term relationship, it took a long time after the honeymoon period ended for me to admit to myself that we weren’t right for each other... but in retrospect, I’d been emotionally checked out for quite a while.

This week, I mentioned to Gwyn that, with my move swiftly approaching, I’d have to decide soon if I want to reach out to my ex and arrange a time to meet up and say goodbye over dinner — something we’d talked about doing during the breakup. TBH, I’m still on the fence: I feel like I’ve gotten all the closure I need already, and I’m afraid meeting up would set me back in some way. On the other hand, it feels weird to not say bye in person, and I don’t want to leave NYC with any regrets. Gwyn encouraged me to take my time deciding, and not feel guilty with whatever choice I make; she also said it’s OK to set some boundaries, and let my ex know if talking about the past is off the table when we meet up.

One of Gwyn's final nuggets of wisdom to me was this: "The more time you have to be with yourself, and loving being solo, the better and more solid the next relationship with another person will be." Regardless of what happens with my ex, or with anyone I date in the future, I know she's right — besides, being on my own is freeing, and ironically, I'm so much more comfortable being single after my breakup than I was before my first relationship.

How I Feel At The End Of Week 4: Ready for the future! Even though I wasn’t capital-D devastated by my first breakup — I was sad but knew it was the right choice — being able to talk to a relationship coach one-on-one while processing my first breakup was still so helpful.

With an app like Juicebox (as with any form of coaching or therapy), you get out what you put in. We all heal in different ways and in our own time, and not everyone will have the same experience getting over a breakup as I did. For me, chatting with a sex and relationships coach after my breakup was a way for me to reaffirm that my thoughts and feelings were healthy and normal, and it also pushed me to think critically about my past — as well as consider what I want for my future. At the end of it all, I feel like reflecting on my last relationship has given me a better idea of who I want to be with in the future... but until that time comes, I've figured out that I can be more than happy on my own.