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The Heart Beat The Heart Beat blog

Sex with an ex is common post-breakup

Plus, an expert tells us why revisiting romance is a terrible idea.

By Kristin Wong Jan 23, 2013 4:41PM

For many young adults, "ex sex" is just part of the breakup process. At least that's what a new study from Lucas County, Ohio has found.

Researchers collected data on 792 "emerging adults" between the ages of 17 to 24. All had been in a relationship in the past two years, and the study authors found that nearly half (44 percent) had hooked up with an ex post-breakup.

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Researchers and relationship experts agree—post-breakup sex is a bad idea. In an article in the Journal of Adolescent Research, the study's authors wrote:

"Those who stay in contact following a breakup continue to feel the pain of the breakup more intensely and may have more difficulty moving on. Previous research found that college students who had sex with their exes mostly described this as a 'difficult or negative event.'"

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Dating expert Shay "Your Date Diva" Williams agrees. She's a certified dating and relationship coach and has written extensively on the topic of "ex sex." She tells The Heart Beat that young adults may be more likely to hop in the sack with an ex for three reasons:
"Most times it is their first time at love or really bonding with another, and it is hard to break away from those strong attachments."

Second, they lack the experience to realize that "sex with the ex is a dead end street that leads to more pain and heartache." And finally, it’s a familiar and comfortable way to find sexual satisfaction. For young ladies, this may be especially appealing, as they can avoid the stigma of increasing their "sexual number," Williams explains.

Aside from the obvious issue of prolonged heartbreak, Williams says there are a variety of reasons why ex sex is an awful idea.

"My favorite saying is that 'if the paint was wet when you got up, it will be still wet when you try to sit back down!'  There is a reason why the relationship ended. Introducing sex into a situation with no boundaries leaves everyone emotionally vulnerable and unable to fully let go and trust each other.  This leads to a downhill spiral of dysfunction in the relationship as it removes any motivation for the male to win back the affections of his ex.  Sex with the ex is self-torture at it's best." 

If youth is wasted on the young, then so is precautionary advice. We've all lived through a time when "do now, think later" was our main mantra.  So what if you've already revisited romance and are now dealing with the repressions?

"The only way to start clearing your system of the surge of this hormone is to cut one's self off cold turkey," Williams tells us.  "It will hurt at first but with time, a growing self-love and determination, you will wonder what you ever saw in the ex in the first place."

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Photo: Assembly/Getty Images

82Comments
Jan 24, 2013 8:56PM
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Broke up with my ex, then ended up doing each other a few months after the fact. Honestly, I don't regret it, neither does he. We were both in the mood and after living with each other for so long, we had decided that the relationship wasn't going anywhere. I can honestly say we had a better friends with benefits relationship afterwards than the actual relationship was.
Jan 24, 2013 1:37AM
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Ummm, the study only took into account people ages 17 to 24 who had been in a relationship in the past two years?? You can't base an entire study on just the horniest age group and translate that to everyone!!

Jan 23, 2013 10:25PM
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i'm not from Ohio so i can't rightfully comment on the sample group, but if she dumped me (for another guy, or girl) THEN I CAN'T SEE REVISITING THAT PARTICULAR PAIN AGAIN. There are too many other girls out there to treat me like sh*t to play the same song over and over!
Jan 23, 2013 9:52PM
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like a fav dish at a buffet, nothing wrong with going for seconds

a smart girl knows her limits a wise girl knows she has none ;)

 

Jan 23, 2013 9:27PM
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When the carton of milk in the frig tastes bad you throw it out. You don't put the rotten milk back in the frig for later. Same goes with ex's. Toss it and move on cause it won't get any fresher/better in time. There is always new milk at the store that will satisfy your palate. (this is a hard won lessen served to you for free).

Jan 23, 2013 8:30PM
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Having sex with an ex is a good thing if you are single, and so is your ex. It can give you the much needed break from sexual frustrations. And it makes things easier.

 

Sex with an ex is like getting intimate with someone you know and trust, and they can provide the perfect mix of pleasure and security. You’re not treading on any new ground, you know what to expect, and you like that.

 

As tempting as it can be, focus on why you broke up with your ex in the first place. And if you have to be friends, try not to think of them as moving sex toys. It may feel nice at first, but it only takes a few passionate nights together in bed to bring back the old memories of a love that never was, and a few more nights of carnal abuse to mess your world up.

Jan 23, 2013 8:23PM
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I'm having sex with my ex right now as i type...
Jan 23, 2013 8:02PM
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Several years ago a semi-drunk young lady was hitting on me in a bar. She explained a girls needs three men:

 

1) The one she's with.

2) The one she's seeing on the sly.

3) The one on the waiting list, after being tried out and passing the "test".

 

I declined. Oh, being #3 sounded nice, but being #1 and 2 didn't sound so hot.

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