My ex and I had one of the worst possible endings in the history of dramatic breakups. There were a lot of tears involved and a lot of begging, as well as an irreparable disdain from my family. It was just a whole lotta sad and a whole lotta messy.
But it happened, and we all moved on. Or so I thought.
The thing is, I still loved the guy. And he still loved me. We hit the jackpot so hard in that aspect that it caused us to abandon logic altogether and do stupid things behind everyone’s backs despite the barrage of mistakes we had already committed while we were together. And one of those was to have sex.
Yes, sex, post-breakup. We did it in secret and while seeing other people. We promised each other “it’s just sex” even if it wasn’t. It went on for about two years after we split and although it didn’t turn out as messy as the breakup itself, it was still kinda messy.
This doesn’t mean that messy is the only way to go, however. Since it was common these days to meet people who have slept with their ex, Adam & Eve, a sex toy company, did their research on the subject. Out of 1,000 legal adults, almost half of the population had a sexual encounter with a former flame. Dr. Kat Van Kirk, Adam & Eve’s resident sexpert, noted that sex with your ex isn’t always a bad thing.
“As long as both partners are on the same page,” she said, “it can be mutually satisfying.”
THE REASONS YOU SHOULD
1. If You Went Through a No Contact Period After the Breakup
The No Contact Period doesn’t mean hours of not texting each other or weeks of not driving to the nearest gas station to steal kisses inside the car. By No Contact Period, I meant months or even years of not having spoken to each other. At all. This way, you’re a little more level-headed, and you know you’ve thought things through. You’ve also given yourself a little space for growth and healing.
2. If You’ve Both Moved On
This is tricky because two exes who still love each other after a breakup never quite move on unless they’ve made great efforts to do so. But gauge it. Don’t even dare fool yourself into thinking you’ve moved on when you clearly haven’t. Take time to reflect on how you feel toward the guy and assess whether or not a night with him will bring back old feelings you’ve worked so hard to discard.
3. If You Want to Scratch the Itch While Being Safe (Assuming the Ex Has Been “Safe” with Other Partners)
Remember: only do this if you’ve fulfilled the first two reasons. Having sex with your ex is familiar, comfortable, and safe. And it is much better than a random hookup on Tinder, trust me. He knows your body like no one else does and you know his. In the same Adam & Eve’s research, comfort and familiarity even claimed the highest percentage amongst all the reasons they gave about why they would sleep with their ex. Do so if you want to satisfy your urges with someone you really trust.
4. If You’re Emotionally Mature
Emotional maturity comes with age and personal growth. Take a look at the way you handle problems. If you feel like you’ve been particularly mature about important aspects of your life such as work, family, and other close relationships, then there’s a big chance you can handle this well, too.
5. If You Both Have a Concrete Agreement on What Your Current Relationship Is
This is where it gets real tough. Talk to him about your current relationship. Are you friends with benefits? Is this just a one-time hookup? Is this going to be a constant thing? Make sure you’re both on the same page about your situation and that you’re both capable of being firm about it.
Forgetting your ex and moving on is easier said than done, I know, I know, and getting physical with them might be the only solution to your problems. But before you snap your laptop shut and hit your ex up with a “miss u,” know that there are also consequences to doing it, most especially if you want something out of it other than sex.
THE REASONS YOU SHOULDN’T
1. If You Expect Him to Act Like a Boyfriend
He won’t and he shouldn’t. He isn’t obliged to bring you home or to call you that night to ask you about your day. If he is being nice to you without crossing the line, that’s good. But if you still expect him to treat you as his girlfriend, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
2. If You Still Blame Yourself for the Breakup
Part of why I discourage other people to have sex with their ex is because they have this inherent nature of putting all the faults of the breakup on themselves; hence, taking the gravity away from the breakup itself. This just leads to them wanting to do everything with their ex again. Never forget that you broke up for a reason. You may forget the reason, and you may spin the story to have you as the culprit, but there was always a good reason you parted ways.
3. If You Want to Move Forward
Unless you have gathered enough strength to stop seeing your ex, it will happen again. And again. And again. But doing the deed with him while healing wounds already puts you in a very vulnerable position – it will be extremely difficult to break the streak. You also prevent yourself from being emotionally available to other better, more decent guys.
4. If You Want Revenge
Adam & Eve found that about 5% of people who have done the deed did it out of spite. If this is your sole motive, don’t. This just creates unnecessary drama and inevitable bad blood between the both of you. Besides, if you’re so awesome in bed, why give it to your ex when you can wow someone who respects you more?
5. If You Still Hope to Be in a Relationship with Him, Now or in the Future
Even if we deny it, there is a tiny voice at the back of our minds telling us that having sex with a former flame is one sneaky way to keep them in our lives so that things will eventually fall into place one way or another and you’ll have your happy ending. It doesn’t work that way.
In the study by Adam & Eve, around 14% of people had their hopes up about reconciliation. Although Dr. Van Kirk was very consoling about the act, she also warns that it “is when one person engages in the act with ulterior motives that [sex with an ex] becomes a problem.” Think it through. Don’t ever lower your standards just to get short-term gratification. Respect yourself enough to leave a situation that doesn’t align with what you want for yourself.
I personally don’t regret any of those encounters. Two years of being intimate with him have taught me things I could never, ever forget when it comes to love, relationships in general, and respect for myself.
Just like any sane person, however, I always wish I had made smarter decisions, such as putting a stop to it as early as I could. But it’s been more than a year since our last encounter, and although that time was one of the most emotionally challenging parts of my life, I’ve never been more grateful for what it taught me.