Depending on how long it's been since you broke up, sex with an ex can seem like a fantastic idea. You already have the intimacy part down, you know each other's bodies in ways you wouldn't know the body of a one-night stand, and you have all that history. So. Much. History. Which, honestly, might be a bad thing.
Although a 2015 survey of 1,000 people by Adam & Eve found that most people, at 56 percent, haven't slept with an ex, there's still that 44 percent who have. And of that 44 percent, 54 percent of them were women. So, yes, people are sleeping with their exes and most of them who are doing so are women. It's nice to know you're in good company, right?
But while many will say that sleeping with an ex can be bad for you, it's not all dark and gloomy territory. For some, it can actually be a good and, dare I say, a fulfilling thing. In fact, according to Clarissa Silva, Behavioral Scientist and author of relationship blog You're Just A Dumbass, there are actually some positive aspects to sleeping with an ex, too.
I spoke to Silva about the impacts that no one tells you about sleeping with your ex.
When a relationship comes to an end it's easy to idealize what it was and who that person was, as if selective memory kicks in and it refuses to let you see the truth. But sex with an ex can get rid of that.
"Sometimes we allow our past relationships to disallow our future relationships and happiness," Silva tells Bustle. "When that is the case, going back to move forward can sometimes make us see that we've idealized the relationship. Revisiting the sexual side of the relationship can help resolve some of that past hurt."
If you still have feelings for your ex or hope that it will all work out, then sex with an ex is a bad idea. Bad, bad, not good, bad. So bad that you can kiss any hope of getting over your ex goodbye if you sleep with them.
"Hoping that sex with your ex will rekindle your relationship is setting you up for false hope," says Silva. "Chances are that the issues in the relationship that caused the breakup weren’t sexual."
As much as people may want to turn their head away from this fact, sleeping with an ex does offer security that sex with a one-night stand does not.
As Silva says, "A breakup creates self-doubt, anger, rumination, and lowered self-esteem which makes us feel less desirable to others. Sometimes sex with an ex helps to provide some sense of security because of the familiarity and mutual growth you both developed over time. While it may sound bizarre since your ex is the one that created the doubt and anger, for some this becomes a moment of empowerment. As you heal and become strengthened, you see very clearly why the relationship wasn’t ideal and what you need in your future partner."
When a relationship comes to an end, it's usually for a reason. It's then, no matter how much it hurts, that you're supposed to move onward and upward, as they say. When you don't, and let yourself fall back into patterns with an ex, there's no moving forward.
"You’re seeking happiness, but wind up settling with what is familiar to you," says Silva. "Deep down inside, when you’re settling, you know it. Sometimes people convince themselves that it is OK; other times they realize that they want more, but don’t think they can get it."
With familiarity comes knowledge and with that comes, well, great sex. When you've known someone so intimately and physically, there's a better chance you'll be able to climax because you're at ease with someone who knows exactly how to make your toes curl. So if you're not in the category of wanting to get back together with your ex and can just leave it at sex, then sex with an ex can be great. As long as you keep it to "just looking for an orgasm," as Silva explains.
6Negative: Self-Esteem Issues
"While ex sex might seem like a harmless idea in the beginning, as time goes on your ex may find someone else and leave you again," says Silva. "If it is hard to resist ex sex, mentally prepare yourself for the detachment and have a conversation about being on the same page about the encounters." In other words, accept that the rug could be pulled out from under you at any given moment. If you can't, stay away from sleeping with your ex.
Similar to offering an end to idealization, sex with an ex, either once or multiple times, can give us the closure for which we might be looking. "Sometimes we idealize our exes because we haven’t found a replacement or don’t want to go through the dating process," says Silva. "It’s easier to romanticize your ex and the relationship in those moments. Sex with your ex can help reveal why you chose to remain apart."
When it comes to having sex with an ex, it's important to tread lightly. It can be a slippery slope so it's important to know how you feel about them, the expectations you have for the situation, and, ideally, have an end point in mind. You can't go on sleeping with your ex forever because even if you're over them, you could end up getting stuck in a routine that holds you back from finding another relationship, one that's the full package and not just sex. Unless, of course, you just want sex at this point in your life. It all depends on you.