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  • Isabelle Morley, PsyD

Sleeping with Your Ex

Before you jump in bed with an ex, take time to think through the pros and cons (and get clear on your reasons and expectations). After that, make whatever choice you want!

I spoke with Bustle about this very topic. There are many things to consider when it comes to sex with an ex, and you can read that article here.

Let me start by saying that I don't judge what my clients choose to do when it comes to intimacy. It's easy to look at someone's choices and make a ruling if they are right or wrong, good or bad, but in most cases these choices are more nuanced and complex. So when someone goes back to an ex for some casual fun, they often encounter quick and fervent opinions from friends and family.

"I can't believe you would go back to them, remember how awful they were to you at the end?"

"Definitely do it! Then you can ghost them and get all the power back."

"You'll just get hurt again, you're crazy if you do it."

"Yes! They were the one that got away. Maybe you can get them back!"

As much as others might want to be helpful, these quick judgments ignore the real complexity of the decision. You have a unique relationship with your ex, as well as your own personal motivations for wanting to hookup with them again, and other people may not understand this. It's up to you to really consider the decision and decide what's right for you.

There are real pros and cons to getting together with a former lover, and while I don't have an opinion on whether or not my clients have sex with an ex, what I do care about is that they think through these pros and cons so that they make a decision after weighing all the information.

Here are some additional things to ask yourself or keep in mind if you're considering another roll in the hay.

Know your reasons.

Is it for some familiar, safe fun? Is it because you're sick of dating and want a break from constantly swiping left? Is it to reignite the relationship? Is it self-destructive or self-sabotaging? Some reasons are better (as in, healthier) than others. If you're going back to an ex because you hope to secretly win them back, it's a big emotional risk. If you're looking for a reliable good time during a dry spell, it's less likely to hurt you.

Do some self-reflection and make sure you have your eyes wide open. Know what's motivating you, identify your hopes or expectations are, and be prepared for any outcome.

It's going to bring up feelings.

I can't predict what feelings, but being intimate with someone you've had a close relationship with will inevitably bring up feelings. This is not going to be a feelings-free hookup (and realistically, are they ever?).

Do the cost benefit analysis.

Being with your ex means giving that time to him/her/them instead of someone else. You'll be trading in time with friends, family, or another lover/partner, so make sure you're ok with that cost.

The sex might be even better than before...

The intimacy might be great, even more so because it feels more exciting and even illicit (especially if others don't know). Secrecy and the forbidden are erotic, as is the uncertainty of what will come of the tryst, and it might make the sex even more amazing. You don't know how long this will last and you want to enjoy it while you can, which is a recipe for excitement.

...but don't read too much into it. Remember that this excitement will fade if you were to continue hooking up or get back together. The sexual honeymoon period doesn't last. It's fueled by the fact that it's temporary- the thrill of savoring the moment, uncertainty about the future, and lack of inhibition.


This is the best but least sexy advice: make sure you both are on the same page about what this is and, ideally, have this conversation pre-sex. Are you hooking up casually but exclusively? Are you also talking to other people? Is this a one time thing? Get some clarity and lay some ground rules.

Consider if you're avoiding something. If you keep coming back to each other every 3 months, is it impeding you from moving on to a better relationship? And if you recently broke up, are you hoping to rekindle things even though this person wasn't the right fit?

If you're using your ex as a crutch to avoid entering the world of dating (which is admittedly difficult) or facing your insecurities/anxieties, then hopping back in bed may not be the best thing for you.

If the relationship was abusive, think twice.

All the considerations above only apply if the relationship was relatively healthy. If you were in an abusive relationship with your ex, it's not a good idea to be intimate with them again.

No ifs, ands or buts on this one.

Getting out of a bad relationship is hard enough the first time, you don't want to put yourself in a bad situation again.

The choice is yours.

Only you know the pros and cons of getting together with an ex. Although friends and family (or even your therapist!) might feel like they know the "right" thing for you to do, I'm telling you right now, the probably don't. Only you and your ex know what the relationship and breakup were really like, and only you two can decide if a roll in the hay will be delightful or destructive.

The choice is yours to make, and the outcome is yours to deal with. Make a thoughtful decision and be ready to manage whatever feelings come from it.

And there you have it! Think it through, be honest with yourself about your reasons and expectations, communicate openly, and have fun.



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