Sex is amazing. Like ice cream, it’s one of those things that all women should have with literally whomever (or toppings) they want. But sex with an ex? *Insert Warning Sign Here*
Is an ex an ex for a reason? Most definitely. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t ever have sex with them again. Foolin’ around with someone you once had feelings for can make things messy, although there can be some good things that can come from it too.
We spoke with experts to dissect every little thing you’re wondering about going down this slippery slope—from what warning signs to look out for to how you can move on from an ex post-sex.
Why might having sex with an ex be a good thing?
1. FWB, that you?
Hello, meet the dude who already knows your body, knows what makes you tick, and knows what can turn you on for a five-minute quickie. If you can forget the baggage and still have a friendship or mutual respect for each other, voilà.
“This can help each of you to have a sexual partner you know and trust, especially if you’re not ready to start a new relationship,” says certified sex therapist Rhoda Lipscomb, PhD.
2. It could provide closure.
“One last hurrah could seal the deal,” clinical psychologist says Dara Bushman, PhD. It’s passionate, intense, and gives you one last dip of that queso before you go on Whole 30.
3. You trust them.
Maybe a one night stand isn’t your thing and you’re getting real tired of touching yourself—we hear you, girl. So sexing with someone you already are comfortable with can be rewarding.
“There’s a level of comfort and trust from your history that may not be present with a new partner,” says sex and relationship expert Megan Stubbs.
Why might having sex with an ex be a bad thing?
1. It may prolong your bond.
Scientifically, the chemicals that get released during and after sex bond you together, says Rachel Wright, cofounder of Wright Wellness Center. “Oxytocin lasts longer in a woman’s body than in a man’s, so females may feel the deep attachment begin to form again, while it might not for a man,” says Wright. This could leave things, erm, a bit messy.
2. You are hoping to change your situation.
Fact: Sleeping with someone is not going to make them suddenly want to get back together with you. “When one partner has moved on from the relationship and the other has not, returning for sex can create an unreasonable optimism in the less-healed partner,” says sex therapist Stefani Goerlich, LMSW.
3. They are hoping to change the situation.
“Continuing to have sex with them will only give them more reasons to keep trying and to guilt you into giving them another chance,” says Lipscomb. Doin' the deed might feel good in the moment, but leading on someone you used to care about will not.
4. You have a harder time moving on.
“Sex interferes with the process of moving on,” says clinical psychologist Mark Sharp, PhD. “Sex with your ex extends the time you are emotionally unavailable for a new relationship.”
What should you consider before you have sex with an ex?
1. Are you intoxicated?
Drunk texting is all fun and games until you wake up the next morning with your ex snoring beside you. In other words, don’t make the decision to hook up with an ex while you’re under the influence. “There’s a reason it’s called a drunk dial,” says Wright.
2. Do you both agree the breakup was a good idea?
If not, this could lead to the worst kind of feelz and mixed signals.
3. Do you still want to be in a relationship?
For obvious reasons, avoid investing time and energy into someone who doesn’t want the same from you in return—even if that means being their 3 a.m. booty call that you swear isn't anything.
4. Do they still want to be in a relationship?
If you have no intention of rekindling the flame, it’s best to keep things broken up for good. Let the breakup do its thing, girl.
What should you discuss with your ex before you have sex with them?
Ask the important questions—like what they want and what they expect from having sex. Having clear communication beforehand with honest, genuine answers helps make sure you both are on the same page says Lipscomb.
2. As of now, what your feelings are for each other.
“It is important to know how both of you are feeling about each other and the breakup itself,” says Goerlich. If there's any inconsistencies with what you both want or how you both feel, it may be smart to steer clear of sexing.
3. Will this be a one-time thing or ongoing?
Basically, clarify if the interest of sex is for closure or to gain a fun, FWB situation. This helps to set intentions for how to proceed after sex.
4. Are you seeing other people?
For one, it’s important to have a conversation about who you've been sleeping with post-breakup to discuss sexual wellness and potential STIs. For two, this helps with making sure you’re prepared for what happens after you have sex.
How do you move on after having sex with an ex?
1. Remember, there’s a reason you two aren’t together anymore.
While the sex might have just been amazing, the relationship hasn’t always been. You just experienced a high with them, which could explain why you're suddenly reminded of the good times with them...but don't trick yourself into forgetting the bad times. An ex is an ex for a reason.
2. Seek closure in whatever way you know how.
“You can’t unring the bell, so decide what is best for you moving forward,” says Stubbs. Does that mean talking it out with friends? Writing your feelings out in a journal for closure? Or going on a social media rampage and blocking your S.O. on every platform? Do your thing, girl.
3. And be careful about how you leave things.
Words are powerful. “Don’t say ‘I’ll call you’ or ‘I’ll text you’ if you don’t mean it. If you’re not planning on a repeat, say, ‘It was nice to hook up with you one last time,’ says relationship therapist Theresa Herring.
4. Don’t just ignore the fact that it happened.
“Ignoring the sex could make your mind wander and go wild,” says Lipscomb. “Knowing what each other is thinking is very powerful and helpful to making it a good ending to your relationship.”