Relationships

Reclamation Sex 101: Everything You Need to Know 

Published: JULY 6, 2024

Let's dig into the fascinating world of reclamation sex, where desires, emotions, and relationship dynamics, like non-monogamy and polyamory, intersect. Essentially, it's the intimate moment between partners after being with someone else, but what that looks like exactly varies from person to person. Some see it as a way to reconnect, others as a path to healing, and for some, it's all about spicing up their sex life. However you look at it, reclamation sex walks the fine line between desire, ownership, and personal freedom within relationships.


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What is reclamation sex? 

According to Urban Dictionary, "Reclaim Sex" is sex with your regular partner after one of you has had sex with someone else, with the goal of "reclaiming" the feelings of your relationship. It's similar to makeup sex.

However, as Sarah Kelleher, LCSW, Sex and Relationship Psychotherapist, and Sex Educator, explains, reclamation sex may mean different things to different people.

"Reclamation is the process of 'claiming something back' and, when applied to sex, can function pretty much like that for some people," she says.


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According to Kelleher, reclamation sex is commonly seen in polyamorous and open relationships. It refers to partners reconnecting physically after one has had a date, connection, or sex with another partner. 

This concept can also apply to infidelity and affairs in monogamous relationships. Having worked closely with couples, Kayden Roberts, CMO & relationship coach at Camgo, has witnessed how reclamation sex can reignite emotional bonds lost amid life's pressures and challenges. In this context, reclamation sex serves as a vital step toward reconciliation, particularly when a cheater seeks to rebuild trust or make amends after an affair. It becomes a way for partners to re-establish monogamy and rediscover the love and friendship they once shared. 

John and Sarah, a couple who faced a rocky road after John's infidelity, determined to mend their bond, turned to reclamation sex under the guidance of Roberts. Struggling with emotional and physical closeness, they embarked on structured sessions, bravely confronting their fears and insecurities. Through this journey, they discovered newfound trust and intimacy, learning to meet each other's needs and desires with compassion and understanding.


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Read More: What Is Monogamy?

If physical touch or sex is part of this reconnection for a couple, that can be great, but it's also okay if it isn't, says Kelleher. She notes that partners may differ on this, so discussing what each person wants or needs to reconnect and collaborate is crucial.

Ultimately, she says, if reclamation sex or touch is something both partners enjoy and want, that's wonderful. If not, that's perfectly fine, too. Finding ways to reestablish connections that work for you and your relationship is the key.

Why do some couples need reclamation sex? 

"Some people describe the desire to 'reclaim' their partner after they have sex with someone else as almost primal-like," Kelleher says.


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For some couples, reclaiming intimacy after their partner has a consensual sexual experience with someone else can be very satisfying, while for others, reclamation sex becomes an integral part of the healing process after a breach in a monogamous relationship. Regardless of the specific circumstances, the core reason for incorporating reclamation sex into a relationship is the same – it serves as an opportunity to reconnect with a partner and reclaim that special shared bond.

When asked why couples need reclamation sex, Kelleher explains that boundaries, expectations, and desires can vary significantly among individuals. For some, hearing every juicy detail about a partner's encounter with someone else is a major turn-on, while others may prefer their partner to shower and spend some separate time before reconnecting sexually. So, it's important to discuss what makes each partner feel like their connection has been "reclaimed," and the logistics of achieving that before incorporating reclamation sex into the relationship dynamic.

In the realm of hotwifing, pleasure isn't just about the thrill of being with someone other than your husband; the ritual of 'reclaiming' is also part of the experience. Hotwifing focuses on consensual sexual encounters outside the primary relationship for erotic excitement. It differs from polyamory, which involves forming multiple romantic and emotional connections with the informed consent of all partners, so reclamation sex often looks different in hotwifing than it does in polyamory, though not always.


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In my online sex work, I often guide couples through the world of hotwifing. Mark and Jenna sought my advice as they dipped their toes into this lifestyle. Mark loved seeing Jenna with other men, but they both struggled with creating an emotional connection afterward. During our sessions, we explored the concept of reclamation sex — how Mark could reclaim Jenna's attention and rekindle their intimacy after her encounters. Together, we discovered that reclamation sex not only strengthened their bond but also became a thrilling part of their dynamic, deepening their connection as they explored their shared fantasies.

Read More: What Is Polyamory?

Kelleher also notes that many people find the sex between partners after sleeping with others to be extremely intense and intimate. Some even choose to incorporate this dynamic into their sex life intentionally.

Take Jack, for example: "My wife went out of town this weekend and called to tell me she met and hooked up with a guy. She shared all the details. I love those stories. I can't wait for her to get back – sex is so much hotter when you reclaim."


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For Ariel, reclamation sex is a way to enjoy pleasures that a typical marriage might restrict, but still stay close to her primary partner.

"Being non-monogamous and having your partner encourage you to explore sexual experiences with other men is incredibly empowering," she says.

Ultimately, the need for reclamation sex depends on the unique preferences and boundaries of each couple.

Read More: More About Polyamory

Reclamation sex centers autonomy and choice

The term "reclaim" doesn't sit well with everyone — and for good reason.

"We don't own our partner and therefore do not need to redeclare or reclaim our ownership," says Kelleher. "We want to be mindful when the desire to engage physically comes from a place of possessiveness or entitlement rather than connection." 

We are each autonomous human beings who may choose to be with other people and derive pleasure on our own terms, regardless of our current relationship structures. We might share these experiences with our significant other(s) by allowing them to watch or through post-play stories, or we might keep our experiences with others entirely to ourselves.

Our autonomy should be centered in the same way when it comes to reclamation sex. It should be approached as a mutual ritual that honors both partners' desire to reconnect, not one partner's need to "reclaim" their partner after they have a sexual experience with someone else.

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Ryn Pfeuffer

Ryn Pfeuffer is a versatile print and digital writer specializing in sex, lifestyle, and relationship topics. She got her start in the mid-90s at the Philadelphia Weekly, managing a 10-page section of the newspaper and more than 500 lonely hearts.Her professional stock skyrocketed when she started writing a saucy (and pre-Carrie-Bradshaw-era) dating advice column called “Ask Me Anything.” She appeared regularly on local radio stations and late-night TV as an expert on everything from grooming...

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