Divorce and breakups are hard for most people. It’s probably one of the most traumatic experiences a person can go through, next to the death of a loved one, or getting a letter from the IRS. Yet for others, it’s a blast of freedom, a chance to reset and start again.
But one aspect of getting divorced — or breaking up with your boyfriend or girlfriend — that can and probably will cause all kinds of problems is if you end up having sex with your ex. Oh yes, it happens. Hey, don’t look so shocked, you know you’ve done it.
Sometimes it’s not a planned thing. Sometimes it just ‘happened’ that one night when he came over to collect his Eminem CD’s, slanket, and favorite Big Bird mug. Or you may have a regular thing going on because your ex is ‘so damn hot’.
Whatever the circumstance, you might want to ask yourself, “Is this really a good idea?”
Whom you choose to have sex with is up to you. However, having sex with your ex could be setting yourself up for an ultimately unsatisfactory, long-drawn-out experience.
For both parties, the idea of losing a long-term relationship and being alone can be scary as hell. Often the attachment with your partner is still going to be strong in the early stages of divorce or separation, so letting go of that is going to be incredibly hard. You’ll have much shared history and familiarity. Thinking you can just turn your back on that and move on overnight is unlikely. Which is why, if your ex calls, it’s easy to give in and go running to the safety of someone who knows you.
The trouble is, sex probably isn’t going to solve past problems, especially if those problems were around communication, appreciation, emotional support or trust.
It’s amazing how the world looks like a better place after sex. That sense of happiness that intimacy brings is due to endorphins being released into the brain. Essentially, sex is crack for your brain. For that brief period after sex, anything will seem better. You’ll forget the midnight arguments, verbal abuse, and how sick you feel when they clip their toenails in front of the TV while you’re trying to watch “Castle.”
If you’ve got to a place in your relationship where divorce is the only solution to your differences, then there’s a good chance sex with your ex will only complicate matters. But if you still want to go ahead and do it, then do it. There is no right or wrong in this situation, only what you think is right for you.
However, here are a few things to think about before making a choice to get jiggy with your ex:
- Why did you get divorced or breakup in the first place? Did you have a good reason? Will sex make that right?
- Do you still have strong feelings of love for your partner, or do you just have fear of being alone?
- Are you or your partner using sex to try to keep the relationship going instead of facing the discomfort of ending?
- Will having sex muddy the waters? If you plan on moving on from your ex, being intimate with them means you’re not moving on.
- Is this an exclusive thing? Are you OK being a sex-buddy? Who else are they having sex with? Are you using protection?
- How will you feel if your partner tells you they’re seeing somebody else?
Remember, the reason to get divorced or to breakup is to dissolve the relationship — dissolve, as in make disappear.
Getting back with your ex for the occasional night of passion might seem fun, but it usually prolongs the inevitable ending, which can make it harder to forge new healthy relationships. An ending that you face and accept, no matter how uncomfortable in the short-term, will be better in the long run. Still, the choice is yours.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 7 May 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Coster, D. (2013). Sex with Your Ex: Bad Idea or Harmless Fun?. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 26, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/05/07/sex-with-your-ex-bad-idea-or-harmless-fun/