We've all been there: Solacing our girlfriend as she tearfully babbles about the ex we didn't like anyway. In the midst of her grief-ridden baby-speak, she mutters something about breakup sex. Your head swivels towards her at an angle menacing enough to rival The Exorcist. You then launch into a rant about how post-breakup sex is the most dumb thing she could have ever done because obviously. A few judgmental head-shakes later and you are patting your friend on the back like the sad girl she is.
But are her actions really as pitiable as we often make them out to be? New research from the University of Arizona suggests not. As reported by Cosmopolitan, researchers at the University of Arizona looked at post-breakup psychological adjustment and ongoing contact among 137 married adults who had recently separated. Their findings? More than 20 percent had slept with their former partners after the breakup process began. Those who had not yet gotten over the breakup found that having sex helped ease the pain of impending divorce. These results lead researchers to believe that sex might help fulfill people's attachment needs while going through a breakup.
But wouldn't fulfilling those attachment needs run counter to the process of actually moving on? Obviously, the physical gratification of intercourse (oh, oxytocin, you sexy thang) would help allay the the emotional loss of a lover. But isn't this just temporary relief? And, given that sex is almost never "no strings attached", sleeping with your ex could potentially complicate things in the long-run. I'm thinking sex with an ex isn't empowering — it's ensnaring.