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Sex With Your Ex: Why We Desire It & the Good & Bad of Sleeping with an Ex

You want to have sex with your ex. But is that a good idea? That depends on a lot of different factors. Here’s how to decide what’s best for you.

sex with your ex

Having sex with your ex is undeniably one of the biggest temptations in human libido’s history.

Many men and women fantasize about sleeping with an ex and mull over the options they have in that moment. Some skim the surface with their feet, while others wade in knee-deep to see how it feels.

Then there’s the few who dive into it, and others who strongly believe that one should never even set foot on that beach. So, what’s it like for you?

Have you ever tried getting back with an ex just to have sex one more time?

We are only human

We all do things we’re not proud of and things we think are going to help a particular situation. Sometimes they end up actually making it worse.

We’re human and make mistakes. We assume a certain action is going to cause everything to magically fall back into place again. [Read: 15 real reasons why your ex texts you and stays in touch]

The end of a relationship is a time when emotions are flying all over the place. You can’t think straight, and might be desperate to get them back. You might be hurt, feel embarrassed, guilty – the list goes on. 

It all depends on how the union ended, who was to blame, or if anyone was to blame at all. If you want to get back with your ex, you might be desperate to get close, and you might be bombarding them with calls and texts.

Maybe over time you’ll look back and wonder what you were thinking. You might even cringe at your behavior, but when emotions are high, you’ll do anything. Don’t worry, you’re only human. [Read: How to know if you’re ready for rebound sex]

Three paths to choose after a breakup

After a breakup, there are three paths you can choose.

One – burn the bridge and walk away.

Two – stick around and stay friends.

Three – give each other some space, then try hooking up again for a fling; which eventually leads to an on-off relationship. [Read: How to find love]

Regardless of which path you picked, you’d still have a soft spot for your ex. Of course you would. Your ex was special, and knew you inside and out, emotionally and physically. 

Most importantly, you used to get physical too. So, what happens now, when it’s all over between the both of you? Do you just forget that either of you existed?

In some cases, exes share a platonic relationship. In most cases, exes hook up now and then. [Read: How to fall out of love when you see no future]

Every time we meet an ex, our hearts swell with lost love. And there’s also the intense spark of lust!

It’s okay to be on good terms with an ex

There’s really no need to hate each other. But just because you’re on good terms doesn’t mean you should be hopping into bed together either.

Even if you’re still friends, having sex could complicate things – and actually make them a lot worse for both of you. [Read: Can you be friends with an ex after a breakup?]

It’s easy to fall into old habits when you’re on good terms, but the truth is, you’re not together. You’re both going your separate ways and that should be reflected in the way you treat each other.

Now, if you broke up a very long time ago, that’s a different story. When a breakup is fresh, you’ll be tempted to hop back in bed just because you’re still getting along. Resist that urge.

Is having sex with your ex ever a good idea?

In all honesty, there’s a time and place for sleeping with your ex. You could get in bed together and be perfectly fine, but you want to make sure that’ll be the case first. [Read: Sex with an ex – The many truths about ex-sex]

Most people go through a personal debate about whether or not they should be sleeping with their ex.  For some, it’s an automatic no—they don’t have to think about it. But for you, maybe it is a bigger decision requiring you to think it through more.

So, let’s talk about when it’s okay to sleep with your ex, and when it’s not. 

When it’s okay to have sex with your ex

Believe it or not, certain situations make sleeping with an ex perfectly acceptable. The circumstances give you the green light to pound town! [Read: Break up sex and 10 circumstances where it works]

If you can relate to these, it’ll probably be just fine for you to have fun together. Just remember that while you may be feeling this way, they might not be.

1. You’ve both moved on and have no feelings for each other

You have to have a real discussion about this. If there are any feelings between you two and you haven’t moved on, sex will only make things worse. That’s why you have to be sure.

But that’s not always easy. They could lie about being over you just to get into bed with you. And you could do the same thing. Be honest with yourself and with your ex in order to have things go smoothly. [Read: The foolproof ways to stop thinking about your ex]

If you’re going to have sex with an ex, you need to be 100% over them, or you’re going to start up all the same feelings again. No matter who broke up with who, you can’t sleep with them if there are any feelings left over.

In order to know if you’re 100% over them, watch them try to hook up with someone else at the bar before approaching them. If you get jealous, you’re not over them. If you really don’t care, go for it.

2. You both don’t want a relationship

You have to be at a place in your life where you don’t really want to get attached. Essentially, sex with your ex has to be no strings attached.

If you’re still looking for something real with someone, sleeping with them could mess all of that up for you. [Read: Rules to protect your heart if you plan to get back with an ex]

3. They were great in bed

Let’s be real here. When your ex is really great in bed and you just can’t find someone who can compete, it’s tempting to get back with them. The only way this is okay is if you meet the rest of the criteria for it to be harmless.

Because no matter how great they were in the sack, still having feelings for them will make everything worse. But if you’re not interested in them romantically anymore, feel free to get it on!

4. You’re not comfortable with a casual hookup

The thing is, people need sex. We want it really badly but if you’re not in the market for a relationship and aren’t comfortable hooking up with someone you don’t know, your ex may be a safe bet. [Read: Casual sex – how to prepare for it and have a hookup with no regrets]

Once again, the other criteria have to be in place for this to work. But if it is, then go for it! You’ll feel better and get off with someone who can get the job done.

5. You talked about it beforehand

It’s not a good idea to just hop into bed in the throes of passion. You need to be on common ground and discuss what’s going to happen – and how it might affect both of you.

This might not be easy, but it’s necessary if you want things to go smoothly. [Read: The best communication techniques to get anyone to open up]

6. You have a mutual understanding that it’s just sex

Meaning, one or both of you aren’t going into it thinking anything more than an orgasm will come from sleeping together. It’s just sex. You both don’t want anything else.

This helps avoid misunderstandings afterward. You could run into trouble if they’re thinking sex will get them a free ticket back into your intimate life. So, discuss it and make sure it’s very clear.

Having sex with your ex is a risky situation. Just ask anyone who has done it! They’ll probably greet the question with a tense, quizzical expression.

Then delve into the depths of all that sleeping with your ex brings to the table. [Read: 40 signs your ex has moved on *OR NOT* and how to deal with the heartbreak]

The truth is, a ton of people sleep with their ex. Now, whether they should or not is the question up for debate. Many things can go wrong when you hop into bed with your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend after a breakup.

7. You haven’t been together for years

If it’s your high school reunion, and you haven’t dated this ex since high school. Suddenly they look like the type you want to take to bed, then you’re in the clear to sleep with them.

A substantial amount of years have passed since you’ve dated, you both are probably more mature, over each other, and you guys can handle sleeping together without dredging up the past.

8. You won’t be seeing them again

Hey! Why not sleep with an ex you know you’ll never have to see again anyway? Are they about to move across the country? Are YOU about to move across the country? [Read: Get down and off – How to pull off that one night stand]

Then go for it! Make it one last fun, exciting round of banging to help you get over not sleeping with them ever, ever again. That way, even if your feelings start to resurface, they’ll be useless once you two part ways.

9. There are no strings or expectations

You can totally bang an ex if you know they don’t want to date you again. As long as there’s an understanding in place that you two aren’t going to get back together, and aren’t making hooking up a regular thing, you’re clear to sleep with them.

When someone has expectations about the hookup and the other person doesn’t, it leads to arguments and hurt feelings. So, make sure the intentions are clear beforehand. [Read: No strings attached relationship – How to have it, end it, and 35 NSA rules]

10. You can handle any backlash

Being mature and confident in yourself enables you to handle any backlash occurring after sleeping with your ex. In the moment, sex might be on both of your minds, but the second the smoke clears and you calm down, stuff gets messy.

If you can handle dealing with all that sleeping with your ex brings up, then by all means go for it! But if you don’t think you can handle it if things go bad, just skip the sex and make out with the hottie from out of town instead!

11. You still love them, but you don’t want them back

This can go either way – positive or negative. Because feeling like this is a possibility.

You might still love them, and you might still want a connection with them, but you know in your heart of hearts that they’re not right for you in the long run and that you can’t be together. [Read: All the reasons why you shouldn’t be in an on-off relationship]

There are two sides to this. Firstly, well done for being mature and emotionally intelligent enough to know that a situation isn’t good for you – and being able to still have that person in your life. 

Secondly, and on the negative side, how can you be sure that your sexy time with your ex isn’t holding you back and stopping you from moving on to what you really deserve?

Look at it this way, while you’re regularly sleeping with an ex you still love, you’re holding on to the past. You might know there’s no future, but in the here and now, they’re in your life and you like it. [Read: 15 revealing questions to know if you should even be talking to your ex]

Fair enough, you’re also probably being monogamous. In that case, you haven’t left them, not in your mind. You’re still half and half with them in some strange alternate universe in your brain. 

And that in itself stops you from talking to new people, going on dates, and perhaps sleeping with new people.

When it’s not okay to have sex with your ex

Although it might sound like a good idea, if any of the below ring true, you may want to avoid having sex with your sex. [Read: 20 firm ways to get over someone without falling apart]

1. One or both of you still have feelings for the other

Having romantic feelings and then having sex with your ex is never a good idea. Unless you’ve discussed getting back together and have worked through your issues, it’ll only make things worse.

You can’t talk about a relationship again after you’ve already had sex. If you have feelings for them and they don’t, it’ll really hurt you and vice versa. Just avoid it if there are any lingering feelings at all.

Stay as far away from it as you can. You’ll only hurt yourself when you wake up and realize they just wanted to get some—they didn’t want to win you back. [Read: 10 signs that prove you’re still attached to your ex]

There are three possible outcomes of sleeping with an ex you still love:

a. It works out in the end, and the other person realizes that they missed you just as much.

b. It turns out to be a one-time thing that simply leaves you more confused than before.

c. It leaves you feeling ashamed, upset, and possibly used, because you’re either angry at yourself, or even more angry at them.

You’re probably reading that and thinking that if the first option is a possibility, how can it be such a bad idea? That first outcome is so rare that unicorns are more likely to make an appearance in the bedroom. [Read: How to stop obsessing over an ex and free your mind for something new]

Sex doesn’t fix things, conversations and effort fix things. If you’re thinking about sleeping with an ex you still love because you want them back in your life, jumping into bed with them is not the best way to go about it. 

2. They were disrespectful toward you

When they don’t respect you, having sex is completely off the table.

You should have enough respect for yourself to avoid getting that intimate with someone who can’t respect you as a person. It’s never a good idea to sleep with someone who was disrespectful to you in any way.

3. The breakup was ugly

Meaning, you two fought a lot and things were said that can’t be taken back. The reason having sex with your ex should be avoided in this instance is simply because emotions are high. [Read: How to get over a bad breakup and start feeling really good again]

When you have a messy breakup, it means there was passion. That high level of emotion shouldn’t be put back together with that person.

4. You didn’t discuss anything before it happens

If you just hop into bed one night when you’re both horny and wanting it, things could go bad. You need to talk to each other about everything before going through with it. It could complicate a lot of things so make sure you talk about it.

5. You’re involved with someone else

For obvious reasons, having sex with your ex is a bad idea if you’re intimate with someone else.

Not only are you breaking that person’s trust, but you’re putting yourself right in the middle of a messy situation. [Read: A guide to making up your mind about whether or not to cheat]

Just stay true to that new person and avoid getting together with your ex if you’ve already moved on. It’ll be better for all involved this way.

6. It’s not safe sex

Are you two being safe? If not, then just don’t have sex. There are always consequences to sex. While you may be able to avoid some of those risks, think about what would happen if you didn’t.

Pregnancy is just one of the many risks involved and if you’re not together anymore, do you really want to risk potentially having a child with them? Either keep it safe or don’t do it at all. [Read: How to have safe sex in every single way it is possible to]

7. You’re drunk

Alcohol has a funny way of making everyone – especially a hot ex you’ve already seen naked many times – seem so much more appealing. If you know you’re drunk or have had more than a few glasses of alcohol, steer clear of sleeping with your ex.

When the beer goggles loosen their hold on your sight and reality, you’ll be filled with guilt – and realize that having sex with your ex probably wasn’t the best idea you’ve ever had.[Read: 10 Sober reasons why drunk sex is never a good idea]

8. You JUST broke up

If you broke up a week ago and see them out at the bar or get a booty call text at one a.m., do NOT sleep with them. Both of your feelings are on edge, and you’re not thinking clearly. 

Allow a significant amount of time to pass before you sleep with your ex again. See above—YEARS. Not just days, weeks, or even months. It takes YEARS to be OK emotionally to sleep with an ex. [Read: You kissed your ex? The complete damage control guide]

9. You just want to show them what they’re missing

Revenge sex isn’t good for anybody. Because your ex feels crappy about not having you anymore, and you feel crappy about sleeping with someone just to show them what they’re missing. 

When you wake up the next morning and realize they really aren’t missing it, you’re going to have a whole lot of heartache to deal with.

10. You noticed them with someone else and got jealous, so YOU went after them… again

So, you ran into your ex at a bar and see some hoe flirting him up. So, what do you do? You hop right in there and claim your territory… like it’s still yours. [Read: How to make your ex jealous and leave them begging for forgiveness]

But it’s not. You can’t have sex with your ex just because you’re jealous he’s hanging around other girls. Remove yourself from the situation when you’re jealous. Don’t throw yourself right into the middle of it.

Rules for having sex with your ex

Now that you know when it’s okay and not okay to have sex with your ex, what have you decided to do?

Well, if you have decided to go for it, at least do it in a way that causes you the least amount of emotional distress. Try not to do it, but if you just can’t resist, here are the rules you need to follow. [Read: 10 circumstances where breakup sex works]

1. Reconsider doing it

This needs to be said before you read the low-down on how to do it. Listen, this isn’t a good idea. 

Sure, you have feelings, but this isn’t going to help you move on. If anything, it brings up bottled-up emotions, and then you’re back in the beginning when you first broke up.

So, please, before you go looking for ways to have sex with your ex, think about it. These stories usually don’t end well. [Read: 10 worst people you have a one-night stand with!]

2. Think about why you are sleeping with them

You need to ask yourself why you want to have sex with your ex. Is it out of convenience? 

You’re too busy with work so you don’t have time to meet someone, or is it because you want them back? If it’s the latter, do not sleep with them. Having sex with your ex isn’t going to bring them back, it’s just going to get you laid.

3. Don’t jump into it

If your ex proposed the idea or you’ve been thinking about it, take a little more time to think about it. You really need to reflect and see where your feelings are with them. [Read: 10 signs your past relationship is holding you back from moving forward]

If you still like/love them then this is going to end messily. But, if you’ve moved past the emotions and given yourself enough time to heal, wait a little bit longer before doing it.

4. Be open and honest

This isn’t the time to play mind games or go into a power struggle. What you need to do is be open and honest with them.

Tell them what you want from them. If you want to have sex, tell them, and be honest with your expectations and your boundaries. This way, you both know where the line is and do not cross it. [Read: Fuck buddy guide]

5. Have a cap on your liaisons

You need to have a max on how many times you’re going to sleep with this person in a month’s time. Try to aim for once a week. 

Anything over that and it becomes too much. Be strict on the number as well. Of course, you can always decrease it, but you can never increase it. You need to keep your distance.

6. No dates outside of sex

This is a huge no-no. Don’t text each other unless it’s about arranging to meet up for sex. Don’t go for dinner, and don’t go to the movies. [Read: 17 Sordid signs you’re just a hookup and nothing more]

Listen, this is only sex, and you need to get that in your head. Make sure that you guys keep it strictly sexual.

7. No deep conversations

Keep the conversation very light. Talk about what’s happening in the local community, the weather, and even political commentary but don’t get into any deep conversations about yourself or the relationship. 

You should never discuss the past or reminisce about the good old days because that only brings up the feels. There’s nothing going on between you two except sex. [Read: Why can’t I get over my ex when I want to move on and forget them?]

8. Leave the past out of it

As we said before, if you are contemplating how to have sex with your ex, do not bring up anything regarding the past if things always lead to bed. Don’t talk about special moments you shared or the sweater that you bought him that he’s wearing right now. 

Remember, this is purely sexual. You’re trying to keep the emotions out of the bedroom. Not so easy, right?

9. See other people

If you’re too busy working to meet other people, fine, you’re excused. But you should, if possible, continue to see other people and go on dates. [Read: How to create a romantic meet cute in your life]

Your ex isn’t going to be an option for a relationship, so you need to press forward with your life and not get sidetracked by sleeping with your ex.

10. When emotions come, cut it out

There’s no other way to get around this. The minute you start feeling something again for them, and let’s be honest, after a certain amount of time, it’s going to happen – you need to cut it out. 

It’s going to be hard, but it’ll be harder when you’ve fallen for them again and they don’t want you back. [Read: I miss my ex – why you miss them and 20 ways to forget them for good]

11. Leave after sex

You don’t need to stay over; you have your own bed at home! This isn’t a sleepover for two, this is strictly sex and that’s it. If you have to sleep over, then leave early in the morning. 

Avoid any romantic breakfasts or cuddling conversations, because those bring nothing but heartache.

12. Remind yourself of why the relationship didn’t work out

After you have sex, you may be happy and content, but remember why the relationship didn’t work out. You need to keep yourself on earth and not have your head go into la la land. [Read: 8 reasons getting back with your ex is self-sabotage]

It didn’t work out for a reason, and that reason was probably fundamental, because you’re not together anymore.

Is it worth it? 

Remember, having sex with an ex is hot, but as with everything else that’s exceptionally good – there are several problems that can come into the picture.

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 just a living sex toy. [Read: 15 good reasons why you still love your ex]

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 chaos to mess up your world.

Think about the consequences 

Even if you don’t think that you still have strong feelings for your ex, sleeping with your ex could only make you want more. And more and more. 

After all, just the thought of bumping and grinding – or just plain bumping -with an ex is hormone-stirring, isn’t it?

And why not, the urge has always been there, and both of you know everything about each other, sexually or otherwise. [Read: 15 Signs your ex is confused about their wants and feelings and what to do]

The thought of bedding your ex is like taking a vacation to your favorite holiday spot. Irrespective of whether you’ve been there last week or a decade ago, you just can’t wait to go there again.

On the flip side, just because you’ve broken up doesn’t mean one of you may not be still in love with the other. Sometimes, people are just not ready to separate from an old lover, even if it takes years. 

When this is the case, a short fling may actually make things worse, or one of you may try convincing the other to give the relationship one more chance. And what do you think are the chances of that working out? [Read: 24 Honest and sneaky reasons why you ex still texts and stays in touch]

Try to forget the past

Forgetting the past is one of the hardest things to do. In most cases, no one really ever forgets. Exes just mask their inner desires and move on with their new lovers. 

But if you really want to make the right decision, then you need to try to forget your past with your ex.

We’ve all heard that there are plenty of fish in the sea, and we should just forget about the one we’ve lost and move on. [Read: Contacting an ex]

But can you really do that? Whichever way you look at it, there’s always a temptation to try hooking the same ex-fish all over again. 

And it’s harder to handle emotions if you and your ex share the same workspace or common friends!

You may have been in a relationship with your ex for a week, a month, or perhaps even a year or more. But the moment you reel your fishing line back in, in the hope of moving on, you have to forget all about your ex and look for another fish. [Read: How to get over a broken heart]

The best thing you could do is to stop fishing for a while, or go to another shore – and try catching a better fish!

The better way forward 

When you’re in the heat of the moment, it can be hard to know the difference between a good choice and a bad one. What’s a better option than this chaos? Sense. Sense and reason.

Remember the unicorns. When you consider sleeping with an ex you still love, visualize unicorns.

Why? Because it will remind you of the very tiny chance of a positive outcome, and the very huge chance of an epic mistake. [Read: 34 Subtle signs your ex wants you back and misses you but won’t admit it]

It will give you a second to de-fuzz your brain and get out of your emotions, and back into reality. It will remind you that there is a better choice, one which means you get out there and talk to new people, hopefully finding someone who treats you far better in the future.

Keep your eyes on the future, not the past

You see, the bottom line is this. An ex, whether they have feelings or not, would be with you if it was meant to be. 

The fact that they’re happy to indulge in the physical, without righting the problems and your broken emotions, means they don’t actually care as much as you thought they did. [Read: How to feel better after a breakup – 22 steps to find your happiness]

Shouldn’t that tell you something? Shouldn’t that tell you you’re far better off without them?

Save yourself for someone who actually gives a damn. That might sound harsh, but it’s true. Do you really want to go back over old ground and rehash the past? Why not find someone new to have really great sex with? 

Why not find someone better to make memories with? Surely that’s a better option? Surely that will lead you towards a brighter future? If you keep looking backward, you’ll only get a pain in the neck!

[Read: 14 things to keep in mind when you bump into your ex]

Having sex with your ex can be sloppy, heart-wrenching… and miserable the next morning. However, it can also be one hell of a good time – if you do it under the right circumstances. So, what is the right choice for you? 

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...