Considering Sex with Your Ex? Why You Need to Think Twice


Passionate feelings for an ex can linger long after your relationship has crashed and burned. And if you’re feeling lonely, you might be tempted to rekindle those old embers. But if you assume it will just be a harmless tryst, be careful. It’s not as simple as you may think.

Having sex with your ex isn’t inherently right or wrong. It all depends on the parties involved and what the consequences for each of you might be.

Knowing why you or your ex want to visit this sexual arena again can help you decide whether it’s the right next step for you.

If you’re considering taking things back to the bedroom, you should take a moment to reflect on whether or not it’s a good idea.

Here are some tips when you’re considering having sex with your ex:

1. Be honest with yourself.

It may be possible for you to have sexual intimacy with your ex only for pleasure. Giving up the sexual part of your relationship can be difficult even when the rest of your relationship is over. Be clear about what you and your ex want out of the encounter. When factors other than sexual pleasure are at play, that’s when sleeping with your ex is a bad idea.

Could you be secretly hoping that a night of passionate sex will reignite your romance? Are you lonely and yearning to be touched? Or are you looking for some familiarity and comfort? Some people think that this kind of tryst will help them move on from their ex, but that isn’t usually the case. You or your ex might be having trouble coping or experiencing other mental health issues. If some of these issues are at work, is this really a good idea? One or both of you could get hurt.

2. Don’t act on impulse.

If you’ve been drinking, using drugs, or are very emotional, it’s not advisable to impulsively jump into bed with your ex. These combinations are a recipe for trouble. People often regret actions when they haven’t made a carefully thought-out decision.

When you’re impulsive, you’re much less likely to have had a conversation to help you know where you stand with your ex. Either of you might end up feeling vulnerable, confused, or even used.

3. Consider your healing process.

Having sex with your ex can open old wounds and complicate the process of grieving. It’s like ripping off a scab when you’re starting to heal, but you still need time to complete your recovery.

How will you feel if you have sex and he disappears? Do you really think you’ll be able to brush off any feelings of hurt if you never hear from him? Do you want a purely sexual relationship if it interferes with you moving on to a new relationship?

4. Protect your heart.

When you’re getting over the end of a relationship, you can easily feel tender and vulnerable. It might not be so easy to predict how sleeping with an ex will affect you emotionally. But if you’re still carrying a torch form him, it’s an exceptionally bad idea. It can delay and complicate grieving the loss.

Our sexualized culture promotes the idea that casual sex is no big deal. Many women and men think they should be able to have casual sex without getting attached, but we’re built for attachment. Casual sex might not work for you. Unless you consider your psychology and your personal situation, you might not think you need to protect your heart.

Could old feelings intensify or resurface for one of you and not the other? Will it interfere with you gaining a new, more objective perspective on your ex or your relationship with him? If you’re seeing others, will sleeping with your ex keep you emotionally attached, making it harder to take your other prospects seriously? Some experience feeling hurt and rejected when their ex moves on, and might even feel bad about themselves for getting sexually involved.

If you have decided to have sex with your ex, at least have an honest conversation about where you both stand in the relationship so there are no misunderstandings. Are you both on the same page in terms of what you want? Or is your partner seeing others, but you think you might be getting back together? Do you want this to continue or is it just one night? If you aren’t comfortable having a conversation about these topics, you can see why sleeping with your ex is a bad idea. Somebody is bound to be upset.

5. Look to the future.

Your ex is an ex for a reason. Revisiting the past in this way doesn’t move you toward your future goals. What you learn from your relationship with your ex can help you to create a better relationship in the future.

People often want to avoid the emotions that go along with letting go of the past and moving toward an unknown future, but skipping this step comes back to haunt you. Of course, you have mixed feelings about moving forward toward a better love life. It’s part of the grieving journey. Are you avoiding the pain of grieving and reflecting on your past relationship? Are you afraid of facing your unknown future? Could you be afraid to be hurt by someone new? Your fear of being vulnerable again might lead you back into the arms of your ex.

Bottom Line

Don’t overlook the fact that when you don’t fully cut the cord with your ex, it can interfere with you moving forward. Whether your future is a new and better relationship or improving yourself as a single person, the change may be very good for you and not something you need to fear or avoid.

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  • Deanna says:

    Well we will both be 56 this month and he was my first love in 1975, yes he broke my heart and was with another girl back then. But as time went on we started to have sex once in awhile even though he had girl friends I stop did my thing but we still had sex. Got prevent at21 he also was there when my son was born but I screws around with another guy. So as years went I didn’t see each Other for very long time hooked up on face book and seen each Other again. He’s married and so was I. I’m divorced but he isn’t but wife screwed up and no longer lives with him and and there 4 kids.they r all adults now and so r mine I have 3. But we did a DNA and my oldest belongs to him. We still have sex it’s all good but I feel the love when we do have sex but don’t feel it when I’m not with him?I know him very well. We r a lot alike. So what can I do to have a relation ship with him?

    • Hi Deanna, Nice to hear from you. It sounds like a very long, painful, complicated relationship. This is the problem with having sex with your ex. It makes things even more confusing, and this relationship is complex enough without the sex. We’re built for attachment, so when you have sex with him you feel in love. I can’t offer medical advice, but you might want to answer these questions honestly: How do you know the love you feel isn’t just from the sex? If you stopped having sex with him, would that make things less confusing for you? Is your ex really someone who you want a relationship with? Why do you want a relationship with a married man who hasn’t been faithful to you? It can take a lot of courage to take a look at these questions, but they may start to steer you in the best direction for you. Read the guidelines for being your own brand of sexy. Don’t forget you have options and you have a voice in this situation. Please keep us posted.

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