And while some of us limit our reminiscing on our ex to simple fantasies that are never to be acted upon, others actually take the plunge and proceed to have full blown sexual relations with their exes. In this article, we shall attempt to view the pros and cons of “Sex with the ex”
We’re taught to stay away from the beds of our exes at all costs, and frequently reminded that nothing that goes on in there post-breakup can ever be a good thing for our mental well-being.
But there are also others who believe that ‘ex-sex’ can, in some cases, be a good idea.
Divorced partners who have slipped up and fallen back into the marital bed report that sex with an ex can actually lessen the psychological distress caused by the break-up.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, researchers at the University of Arizona examined a group of 137 recently divorced adults and asked how many had had the occasional post-conjugal visit after their divorce papers had been signed.
Findings found that most participants (82.5 per cent) remained in contact with their ex after the separation, and almost one-fifth (21.9 per cent) had sex.
Whether or not the ex-sex actually helped a partner get over the end of their marriage depended on how ‘over’ it they already were.
Partners who hadn’t accepted the break-up found the intimate encounters actually helped lessen the pain of divorce.
We’re always taught that sex with an ex is an emotional minefield, but new research suggests it could actually help partners having difficulty coming to terms with a break-up
Meanwhile, partners who had accepted the break-up found sex made no difference at all to how they dealt with it, indicating that ‘ex-sex’ may not be quite as emotionally detrimental as we had previously thought, and that it can, in fact, have benefits for those who are not-quite over their relationship.
Psychologists believe that break-ups can leave us with attachment needs that go unfulfilled especially where a relationship has ended rather abruptly and that sex with an ex helps to provide some sense of security, and at least partial fulfillment of those needs.
The survey of 1,100 adults found that 38 per cent of women said the best sex of their lives was in a previous relationship.
Sex and relationship expert Tracey Cox said this ‘grass is greener’ syndrome is not new.
A study revealed that one in four men regularly dream about their ex-girlfriends.
And the results, also revealed that the men in question were not necessarily pining for their exes by day. In fact, the majority reported high levels of satisfaction with their current relationship.
But women reportedly benefited from having sex with their ex because it ultimately gave them ‘closure’ on the relationship.
This could be particularly true because in the case where a partner is forced to give up on the relationship where the other partner had found someone else or a major row ended in the spontaneous splitting up of the relationship where strong underlying feelings are still present, a partner will see the ex as unfinished business and this kind of sex could give some form of closure – an opportunity to have a amiable parting of ways.
However, Tracey Cox, sex expert, said: ‘I still think it’s dodgy ground if there’s a lot of emotion involved – if a much-loved partner who has left is interested in sex with you it sends of message of hope – and that could be false hope’
She said: ‘Sometimes we need to go back to move forward, and revisiting the sexual side of the relationship can sometimes make us see very clearly that we’ve idealised the relationship or feel much less pain than we thought. So there’s a sense of closure that can be helpful.’
Cox, who has her own range of sex toys with Lovehoney, warned women to wary before jumping into bed with their ex.
‘On their side it’s a trip down sexual memory lane, on your side, it’s make-up sex with a view of rekindling.
‘If you’re going to do it, make sure you go into it with a clear understanding of what it means to the other person.’
In the hit movie It’s Complicated, Meryl Street and Alec Baldwin star as exes who start sleeping together years after they divorce.
It is however, pertinent to remember that there are reasons your ex is your ex. Even if bad sexual chemistry isn’t one of the reasons, having sex with your ex partner is still a bad idea especially an ex from a particularly bad relationship even if the sex was good and hot.
Even just the phrase, “sex with the ex” will get a spectrum of responses from people. Most people will acknowledge that sex with an ex is a hazardous activity.
Why do people do it?
A number of seemingly convincing reasons: It’s familiar; the sex is always good; make-up sex can be hot; the inability to let go and move on, and the most dangerous of all: the hope that sex might lead to a reconciliation.
Often, when exes hop back into bed together, they each have a different reason for being there. One might be scratching a sexual itch with a tried and reliable partner, then the other is thinking dangerously along the lines of reuniting. Yes, sex with the ex is a very, very bad idea.
So the first thing you have to ask yourself is why do you want to recycle lovers rather than move on? What would you gain from going back into the bedroom with an ex? If you have an emotional reason, stop right there and don’t even consider the idea.
Whether you have recently broken up, or you’ve been apart for some time, if you’re seeking to reconnect to a former partner emotionally, and using sex as the way to do it, you’re asking for confusion and trouble.
If your answer is because of the physical pleasure that you get from sex with this particular ex, again, why invite confusion and complications into your life?
So you had “great earth shattering anytime, anywhere, anything goes kind of sex” when you were together, it’s probably because he (or you) also had “great earth shattering anytime, anywhere, anything goes kind of sex” with everyone else around you, that he is your ex today.
If you want a casual partner for casual no-strings sex, your ex is not the answer.
It doesn’t take long for old patterns – and new – expectations to creep back once you become intimate. No matter how you slice it, sex is intimate and don’t kid yourself that sex with an ex is a simple act.
Often, one or both of you will regret the sex. The feelings afterwards that ignite your memories of one another – either good or bad – can make for the desire to turn the clock back. Or worse, only one of you wants to turn the clock back to before you got between the sheets together, while the other wants to turn the clock back all the way to before you broke up.
Either way, spare yourself the head smacking and heart ache and stay strong, where you are right now. Remember why you both broke up.
You’ve moved on successfully this far. So keep looking forward to new sexual and romantic possibilities and keep the old ones where they belong: in your past.
And if you are still sitting around fantasizing about the great earth shattering sex you had with him, try to also remember the vitriolic and hateful rows you also had or the many he stayed out late or over the night ostensibly to help a friend in need, while in fact he was having great earth shattering sex with your best friend.
It’s difficult when you see your ex regularly, but you can stay strong by arranging to see those mutual friends in different circumstances rather than where you know you’ll run into each other. And if that’s not possible, absolutely engage your support team: if they know you really do not want to get back with your ex, in any way, they will help you (to what extent they can, but really in the end the choice is yours).
And of course it’s common sense, to not be around your ex when alcohol is involved. Drinking may make your ex seem more alluring and attractive, and it will definitely cloud your judgement. A clear head is a smarter one when it comes to anything to do with sex and love, and tenfold that for exes!
In this modern era of greater acceptance of casual sex, it may seem there’s little harm in sex with the ex. But few people are mature enough to separate current sex from past patterns, and even fewer get into bed for the same reasons, and stay there for the same reasons.
Do yourself a favour: leave the past alone and go out there and get your future.