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Why Having Sex With Your Ex is a Bad Idea

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tephanie Horrocks via Getty Images
tephanie Horrocks via Getty Images

You dated someone. You broke up. At some point you started sleeping with them again, but you never "got back together." You knew this wasn't a great idea, but you did it anyways. Sound familiar?

When I was 21 I dated a guy whom I had amazing sexual chemistry with. The sex was off the charts, however the downside was that our relationship was plagued with drama. Within a few weeks of us "breaking up" we were sleeping together again.

Speaking from experience, hooking up with your ex is a slippery slope. What usually ends in an emotional tailspin of epic proportions, often begins as a good idea. Here's why:

1. It's comfortable. Just because you break up with someone doesn't necessarily mean you want to give up sex completely (especially when it's good). But, a break-up leaves you emotionally vulnerable. Sometimes it feels safer to just keep yourself open to the same person, rather than risk opening yourself up to someone new.

2. It's convenient. You already have a relationship. You can call them up at 2 a.m. and chances are they'll come over, sometimes with a bottle of wine. Plus, they already know how everything works and what you like. If the sex is good, why waste a good thing?

3. It's more satisfying than a one night stand. If you're the kind of person who is self-conscious about the number of people you've slept with, having sex with an ex means you get to have casual sex without adding any notches to your bedpost. Plus, the sex is generally better than with a stranger you've just met. In other words, you can get laid without the lingering self-critique you might subject yourself to for having a one-night stand.

4. You still love them. As much as we try and deny it, sometimes we hook up with our exes because we still have feelings for them. In my case, sleeping with my ex allowed me to hold on to a piece of him -- settling for table scraps from him instead of the full meal. However, there is only so long that you can remain emotionally starved before you go insane. Eventually I ended things for good.

I learned a lot from this experience -- most importantly, why sleeping with your ex is a bad idea.

1. It delays the inevitable and prevents us from moving forward. To use the band-aid analogy, it always hurts less when you rip the band-aid off in one sweep. It's painful but quick. Sleeping with your ex is the emotional equivalent of pulling the band-aid off one painful hair at a time. in my case, what could have been a relatively quick break-up was drawn out into a six-month painful affair. My emotional attachment to him prevented me from doing what I should have been doing during that time: getting over him, healing, moving on, working on myself and meeting new, better guys.

3. Drama, drama, drama: In an ideal world, consenting, mature adults who used to date could have great sex together without any kind of emotional repercussions. But, in my experience, the opposite is usually true. One person always gets the short end of the stick: they end up with stronger feelings and eventually get really hurt. You can never guarantee that this won't happen.

3. There's the possibility they are using you -- Oh this a big one ladies! Looking back, my ex had the ideal situation: he got to have sex without commitment. In other words, he got to have his cake and eat it too. However, I lied to myself and thought "I'm getting sex too, so I'm using him just as much as he is using me." However, every time I saw him walk out my door in the morning and I was left to deal with my messy emotions, I knew this wasn't true.

4. Lying to yourself is emotionally exhausting: Maintaining this kind of non-relationship means you have to lie to yourself a lot. I told myself, "This doesn't mean anything", "We're just having fun" and the worst of all "I'm happy with the way things are." Eventually, though, you do have to deal with reality and reality hurts.

5. When the reality is they've met someone new, it hurts extra bad. I think a lot of women once they've slept with someone will form an emotional bound to that person. By continuing to sleep with that person after you've broken up with them that bond doesn't get severed the way it should under normal circumstances. If I had taken that time to get over him (instead of sleeping with him) I'm sure I would have hurt less when I found out he was seeing someone new. Instead, I found out he had met someone new while he was still sleeping with me -- which hurt like hell.

6. You may be putting your health at risk -- After we had called it quits for good, I discovered my ex had been sleeping with several other people while he was still having regular sex with me. Luckily, we always practiced safe sex and neither of us ended up with any STIs. However, many people are not as lucky. If you're going to sleep with your ex, always use condoms and practice safe sex. No matter how much you think you still love this person, engaging in risky behavior with them is never worth the cost to your life.

This is all to say, I used to be the kind of girl who pulled the band-aid off, slowly, carefully, painfully. I've come to realize that its better to just rip it right off, even if you lose a bit of hair along the way. It grows back.

A modified version of this article originally appeared on

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