• Tue, Aug 6 - 3:13 pm ET

Ex Sex A Great Idea, Says Study Funded By People Not Over Their Exes


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)

Photo: Shutterstock

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  • Lily

    The only reason I would do it would be in order to know he still wanted me and I had power in that way. So horrible, crazy, manipulative shrew type reasons. All of which I try my hardest not to be only a daily basis.

  • Tania

    I know a woman who regularly, more than five years later, still sleeps with her ex. For him, it’s no big deal – he broke it off, he was over her, he’s just having fun. But she’s been unable to maintain any relationships without cheating on her boyfriends with him (which, according to him, reinforces his reason for breaking up with her in the first place), she writes vague blog posts about how she wishes she “and him were still together,” writes about him on Reddit… I don’t think that in her case, ex-sex is helping her move on at ALL.

  • Kim

    throughout college I rebounded with my first serious boyfriend repeatedly. we dated my freshman year, but it ultimately didn’t work out because of the age difference (he was 8 years older, which probably puts him in bad college boyfriend territory). we stayed friends after we stopped dating, though. whenever I broke up with some asshat, I knew I could call him to hang out, watch shitty movies, drink, and have sex–it was comforting and turned into kind of a ritual. at the same time, one of my breakups in college can be laid solely at his feet, so there’s that. also, now that we’re both in serious committed relationships and living very far apart, we don’t talk, so part of me wonders if he was really as cool with no-strings rebound banging as he pretended at the time.