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When a character has sex, often while drunk, in order to help them cope with an emotional trauma from a recent tragedy.

Alice and Bob are two characters in a series that are extremely close, maybe they are in love or maybe they are just close friends, but they are happy together....until Bob dies. Or leaves. Or is revealed to be lying the whole time. Regardless of the exact circumstances the relationship is over and Alice is emotionally crushed. Does she begin to drink heavily to wipe away the feelings or seek to end the pain? Nope, she goes out and finds somebody to spend the night with, and then finds somebody else the next night, and then finds somebody else the night after that. These are not emotionally healthy relationships, nor do they count as "relationships" by any definition of the term; they are just a string of one night stands as she tries to cope with the loss.

Sex for Solace deals with any situation where a character, suffering from a severe emotional trauma, acts out their own internal turmoil through repeated sexual experiences. The trope does not only limit itself to ended romantic or sexual relationships, but can also deal with the death or loss of a parent/child, the defeat of an ideal, or other such crippling events. The trope can be played alternately for laughs or for drama, depending on the general tone of the work and how Alice's attempts to gain a new sexual partner are portrayed.

Related to, and often the result of, Drowning My Sorrows. Might indicate that somebody is Off the Wagon in a different area. Contrast Ethical Slut, For Happiness and Sex Is Good. Compare or Contrast Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny, depending on how the story deals with the sexuality.

No Real Life Examples, Please

Examples


Anime and Manga

Film

  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall has the protagonist, Peter, have a string of unemotional flings with random women on the advice of his doctor after he becomes despondent and mildly obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, the eponymous Sarah Marshall, after she dumps him.
  • In When Harry Met Sally, Harry sleeps with woman after woman to try to forget his ex-wife, Helen (while he's in love with Sally, his best friend, of course, and neither realizes it yet). This prompts the following exchange:

 Harry: If you're so over Joe, why aren't you seeing anyone?

Sally: I see people.

Harry: See people? Have you slept with one person since you broke up with Joe?

Sally: What the hell does that have to do with anything? That will prove I'm over Joe? Because I fuck somebody? Harry, you're gonna have to move back to New Jersey because you've slept with everybody in New York and I don't see that turning Helen into a faint memory for you. Besides, I will make love to somebody when it is making love. Not the way you do it like you're out for revenge or something.

Comics

  • Renee Montoya begins the series Fifty Two drinking heavily and picking up random women after the events of Gotham Central, where her partner Crisupus Allen was murdered and her girlfriend Daria Hernandez left her after she began to descend into alcoholism and violence. With the help of The Question she manages to regain her emotional equilibrium, but when she needs to kill a young girl that Intergang had brainwashed into being a suicide bomber she is found drunk again and in bed with another woman. She herself admits that this is a pattern, and after every emotional trauma she either runs back to the bottle or into the nearest bed.
  • Anna, whom Katherine "Kate" Kane is dating in the first issue of her run on Detective Comics, claims Kate is using her as a rebound relationship. She also accuses Kate of "tomcatting around" due to her obvious lack of sleep and, even though she is mistaken as to Kate's evening activities, Kate never does deny that their relationship is a classic rebound.
  • In Runaways, Nico has a self-admitted tendency to throw herself at the nearest male in the aftermath of any stressful or traumatic scenario, although she does not progress to actual sex until well into the second volume of the series. She knows it is not healthy and is not fair to herself or whomever she throws herself at, but she cannot seem to break the pattern.

Literature

  • In Jennifer Government Buy Mitsui blames himself for the death of a young girl because he gave her the money to buy the shoes she was killed for. When he goes out drinking to try and deal with the guilt he winds up going home with Sandy John-Hancock, but recognizes the next day that he will probably never call her (Which is a pity, because she actually seemed like a nice woman).
  • In The Aeneid, Dido pretty much leaps into Aeneas's arms at top speed. Unfortunately for the poor girl, she was just a pawn in Juno's revenge quest against Aeneas, so It Got Worse.
  • In The Will of the Empress, Briar tries to have someone in his bed every night to ward off PTSD-induced nightmares.
  • In Wedge's Gamble, Erisi Dlarit tries to sleep with Corran Horn on this pretense; to ease his angst. He refrains and wanders an enemy-controlled city without watching where he's going instead. Probably just as well - rather than getting him captured or killed this leads to unexpected discoveries. Anyway, Erisi is a traitor to the cause.
  • After learning about how several people he loved either died or betrayed him, Robb Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire sought comfort in the arms of Jeyne Westerling. This act and Robb's response led to brutal and tragic consequences later.
  • In spite having plenty of moral and practical reasons to abstain, Candi in Ciem: Inferno ignores her family's advice and sleeps with her boyfriend Danny - so as to help her erase the trauma of having been raped four years earlier by Don Mendoza. (Why her family would not allow her to get therapy instead is a whole other, complicated matter.) And given her luck, this lands her in the wrong place at the wrong time, leading her to a Girls Behind Bars situation because of who she looked like. She ends up sleeping with another boyfriend two years later, to erase that trauma - only to get arrested again for an even stupider reason! After that, she begins sleeping with him just because.

Live Action TV

  • Thirteen from House slid into a downward spiral of partying and drunken one night stands with random chicks due to being unable to deal with her Huntington's disease.
  • On Boston Legal, Denise is in a relationship with a guy with cancer who subsequently dies. Afterwards, she confesses to Shirley that ever since then she's been feeling constantly horny. She ends up starting Friends with Benefits relationships with two guys simultaneously.
  • Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass.
    • Blair does this as well. So far she has had sex for comfort at least four times.
  • Battlestar Galactica. Strongly implied with Kara Thrace.
  • New Girl: Jess's new roommates decide that the first order of business is to help her find a man to use for a rebound, for which they give her extensive coaching.
  • In the German soap opera Hand aufs Herz, Jenny assumes that her and Emma have broken up after having a fight, and Jenny sleeps with Ben for solace.
    • Ben's also miserable about his love life at the time, making it a mutual thing.
  • In Californication, Hank's promiscuity is largely due to his inability to cope with the demise of his romantic relationship with Karen. Also applies somewhat to Charlie in later seasons, after his divorce from Marcy.
  • In Season 6 of Buffy, Buffy suffers from long-term depression after being taken from heaven back into the real world, and so engages in a Secret Relationship with bad-boy vampire Spike. Unfortunately Buffy's guilt over her behavior only makes her feel worse and she eventually breaks off with him, causing Spike to seek solace in the arms of ex-demon Anya, similarly dumped by Xander. Both Buffy and Xander are not happy when they find out about it.
  • Lost: After seeing Jack flirting with Juliet, Kate goes straight to Sawyer and jumps him at his tent. He sees her subtly crying and puts two and two together, but goes with it anyway.
  • On Bones Booth and Brennan's first time together is the night a colleague is murdered. Brennan's staying in Booth's apartment for safety's sake, and during the night, overcome with grief, Brennan comes to Booth's bed. He puts his arms around her as she cries, and you can guess the rest.

Video Games

  • In Heavy Rain, Ethan can have an Optional Sexual Encounter with Madison when he is approaching the Despair Event Horizon over the events of the game. It's actually Sex for Solace for her respect as well, as she's been attacked by a serial killer and nearly raped at gunpoint during the preceding day.
  • In Katawa Shoujo, Misha tries to seduce her best friend Shizune's boyfriend, Hisao, because she's depressed and looking for comfort over the fact that she loves Shizune and knows she can never have her (while Shizune and Hisao already had Their First Time). The self contradiction here should tell you why this is a terrible idea. Even worse, the sexual act is very painful for Misha; they don't get caught but they both fall into depression, and this triggers the route's Bad Ending.

Web Comics

 Sven: Oh, and if you need some meaningless rebound sex, I know TONS of slutty chicks who'll-

Marten: OKAY THANK YOU BYE!

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