One of my best mates is still sleeping with his ex.
This is none of my business. I was never in their relationship and I don't understand their
unique connection. However, I can't help but wonder if it's wrong to have sex with your ex.
Especially (as in this case) when the break-up was one-sided and not by mutual
Personally, I like to leave exes in the ex-basket. Like an old pair of shoes you once loved
but the pain of the blisters they gave you became too much. I keep my exes buried deep
inside my emotional wardrobe and while they will always be there, they are out of sight
and thus out of mind. On the rare occasion I do see them, I'm reminded of how nice it Is to be without those annoying blisters.
Recent research published in Archives of Sexual Behaviour isn't on the same page as me. A few scientists reckon it might be alright to keep sleeping with your ex.
Over the source of two different studies, Canadian researchers found that there was not a
significant emotional effect for people who had sex with their ex after breaking up, as
opposed to those who didn't. One of the two studies also found that the majority of
attempts to have sex with an ex are successful – suggesting that exes stay keen on each
other physically after they have parted ways.
Scientifically, then, having sex with your ex might not be as life-destroying as your friends
tell you it is. Yet I still can't get on board with this concept.
Here's why. People break up for a reason, but sexual needs still need to be met. It's lazy to
go back to your ex for sex. It's like that convenient home-cooked meal you know will hit
your hunger spot, rather than trying a new restaurant that could actually improve your
palate and open you up to new things.
It's also horribly cruel if and when one ex wasn't ready for the break-up (or maybe didn't
want it to happen in the first place). It's a way of leading them on, subconsciously, inferring the two of you are not really over.
It may even signal there's still a chance of getting back together and gives one ex false
hope when the other is purely out for easy physical pleasure.
The studies in mention did say that those who pursued their ex for sex reported feeling
more attached to them than those who had not continued a sexual relationship. While the
findings suggested such attachment wasn't necessarily negative or mentally-detrimental,
this too is flawed.
The idea that you haven't been negatively affected by sleeping with your ex relied on self reporting of the emotional states of the exes; no objective psychological assessments
were conducted by licensed therapists.
Who doesn't lie in the aftermath of a breakup about how well they are feeling? Who actually understands their subconscious feelings for their ex in the immediate weeks and months after a break-up? It's such a confusing time and I can say – from personal experience – a lot of that emotional negativity in the early days of a breakup is covered up by both newness and numbness.
My opinion stands on sex with your ex. I can't see how it can benefit anybody. Maybe it
won't be the catastrophic disaster you are told to fear.
Or, perhaps you just won't know it was a catastrophic disaster until the dust has settled on your physical and emotional state of being, and you can actually make good relationship decisions again.