If you've ever experienced a breakup, you'll know that getting back into bed with your ex was probably the last thing friends advised you to do. However, according to a new study published this week, it may not be such a bad idea after all.
Led by a team from Michigan's Wayne State University, along with researchers at Ontario's Western University and the University of Toronto, the new study set out to look at whether sleeping with an ex could hinder moving on from the relationship.
In the first of two studies, the researchers looked at 113 participants who had all recently experienced a breakup and asked them to complete a month-long daily diary to report on their attempts to engage in sexual activity with their ex-partner.
Two months later, the participants were then asked to complete an online survey which asked questions such as how emotionally attached they still were to their ex.
In the second study, the researchers asked 372 participants to report on their attempted and actual sexual experiences with their ex and whether they still felt emotionally tied to them.
The findings, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, showed that most participants who attempted to have sex with an ex did end up in bed with them.
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The researchers also found that participants who still pined after an ex-partner were more likely to pursue sex with them, possibly as a way of fostering closeness and connection.
However, despite popular belief, having sex with an ex did not seem to hinder moving on after a breakup, on a daily basis or over the course of the next two months.
The finding also held true even for those who were still pining for their ex. Sexual relationships did not appear to hinder their ability to move on or leave them feeling distressed or depressed. In fact, it left them feeling more positive in everyday life.
Although the researchers commented that the study does not necessarily advocate pursuing sex with an ex following a breakup, lead author Stephanie Spielmann added that, "This research suggests that societal handwringing regarding trying to have sex with an ex may not be warranted."
She also added that further research is important for investigating the consequences that sex with an ex could have on someone's mental health, how distressed they feel, and whether they are able to move on.
"The fact that sex with an ex is found to be most eagerly pursued by those having difficulty moving on suggests that we should perhaps instead more critically evaluate people's motivations behind pursuing sex with an ex."
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