When loneliness sets in and your sexual appetite starts making demands, it’s easy to turn to a willing ex for release. But sleeping with them may damage your chances of a new relationship. “In many cases, sex with your ex is always good,” says Johannesburg-based relationship consultant Ali Murray. “You know each other’s bodies well and it may have been the only aspect of the relationship that really worked, so it’s easy to fall into this pattern.”
NO STRINGS ATTACHED
But your motives may be subconscious. If your breakup was recent or you haven’t been sexually active for a while, your self-confidence may have taken a knock. Sex with your ex can remind you that you’re still desirable. Some people are comfortable with using each other sexually, but it’s not that simple. “Women tend to be far more emotional and try to convince themselves that it’s just for fun and enjoyment – when, in fact, they want the full package again,” Murray says.
But it’s not just women who get emotinal. “I was going through a rough patch and decided to call up my ex, who at that time was still a really good friend,” says Mpho* (22), a marketing consultant. “He also always provided a good ego boost, as he’s very good-looking.” “I asked him to come around to my place for a drink – something we often did together – just so I could relax. But on this particular night, one thing led to another and we ended up in bed – and I was filled with regret.” Afterwards they agreed it had been a mistake.
“But about six months later, I got a call from him asking if he still stood a chance of reuniting with me if he left his new girlfriend,” she says. “I’d unnecessarily created a platform of hurt for someone who didn’t deserve it and I felt terrible.”
IT’S NOT A FIX
Murray also warns that you shouldn’t use sex to solve past issues. Although Thembi* (26) got back together with her ex, she says sleeping with him was a bad move. “The fact we reunited had nothing to do with sex. Instead of bringing us closer, it only complicated things and confused me more than ever,” she says.
“When you’re simply having sex with your ex, there’s no discussion of feelings – it’s supposed to be casual. And if you still care about someone, that kind of situation only leaves you feeling empty.” Even if you’re not thinking of reconciling, your affair could limit your chances of finding happiness with someone else.
Psychotherapist and author John D Moore suggests asking these questions before jumping into bed with your ex: Will it cause us emotional pain? Will I be repeating past destructive patterns? Are we using sex to get back into the relationship? Am I breaking any promises to myself by allowing them into my life again? How will I feel afterwards? Is it physical or more? Will it help me find closure? Do I feel guilty for breaking off the relationship? If your answers are worrying, it’s best to end the physical relationship before it begins. If you decide to go ahead, ensure you agree that it’s just physical. Remember, sex without commitment doesn’t make you exclusive sexual partners, so always use protection. * Not their real names.
TOP TIPS FOR MOVING ON
Know how you feel about your ex, your fears and anxieties, and what causes them.
Eliminate negative thoughts.
Leave a partner who doesn’t bring you joy.
Forgive someone who’s hurt you and move on.
Take care of yourself.
Remember, you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone. There’s no such thing as a perfect person.