If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried many a time to talk your friends and/or yourself out of hooking up with a recent ex, with a success rate falling somewhere between “poor” and “miserable.” But you might not have to feel bad about this anymore, because a new study suggests that, contrary to all common sense and logic, having sex with an ex might actually help the newly single person get closure on the situation.
For a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, researchers at the University of Arizona surveyed 137 recently divorced adults and found that 82.5% stayed in contact with their exes after breaking up (understandable), and 21.9% had sex at some point after the divorce. This is not surprising. What is surprising is how people viewed the sex:
Whether or not the ex-sex actually helped a partner get over the end of their marriage depended on how ‘over’ it they already were. Partners who hadn’t accepted the break-up found the intimate encounters actually helped lessen the pain of divorce. Meanwhile, partners who had accepted the break-up found sex made no difference at all to how they dealt with it, indicating that ‘ex-sex’ may not be quite as emotionally detrimental as we had previously thought, and that it can, in fact, have benefits for those who are not-quite over their relationship.
And here is a vague quote backing up these findings with what “psychologists” think (as in, all psychologists, because they are a monolith):
Psychologists believe that break-ups can leave us with attachment needs that go unfulfilled, and that sex with an ex helps to provide some sense of security, and at least partial fulfillment of those needs.
I’m not normally one to argue with science, but forgive me if I am a bit skeptical about all of this. In my personal experience, ex sex ranges from “fine, whatever” (if you are over the person) to “setting you back months in the recovery process.” When I was getting over Bad College Boyfriend, for example, I was not unlike a heroin addict, with every relapse putting me right back where I started, only a little bit worse because I’d have to contend with the shame of having given in again. The total amount of time I spent crying from ages 20-22 could have been greatly reduced had I been strong enough to say “go fuck yourself” the first time. On the reals.
This makes me suspect that the study was funded by not-altogether-neutral interests, like people who are not over their own Bad College Boyfriends and, like junkies, are looking for any excuse to contact them. To whom I say: don’t come crying to me when the sex doesn’t make him magically fall back in love with you. You can never go back to the way it was.
(Via The Cut)