Ever ended up in the bed of an ex that dumped you and left you heartbroken, wondering how on earth you got there? Just a few days ago you were engulfing a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, drinking copious amounts of wine, and sobbing into your duvet at Pretty Woman. Afterwards, you promise yourself to be an ice queen, free from all men forever. This semester you’ll get those high grades, be so into your course, you listen to motivational podcasts, you have nights in with your friends, you work out, you’ve given yourself a Queer Eye makeover and life is good. Until a quick, sneaky, little text; “I miss you, come over x”.
And then you wake up in a familiar bed, feeling a very strong sense of deja vu and perhaps also regret, hope, and/or confusion.
From an extremely accurate twitter poll I conducted, out of 176 respondents, only 43% have slept with their ex-partner. This poll was likely to be filled out by the 18-25-year-old demographic and shows that although sleeping with your ex is very common, not everyone in this generation are turning back to an ex, looking more so to improve themselves and move on, rather than looking back and thinking, "what if?" Nevertheless, 43% is still a reasonably high percentage, showing that clearly, for a lot of people, breaking a habit is hard, regardless of whether you’re the dumper or the dumpee. So, next time, before acting on that text, with the help of this list of pros and cons, maybe you’ll think twice.
Pro: You broke up for a reason! Having sex might dispel some of the over-romanticised thoughts you have about your previous partner that might be stopping you from moving forward. It can help you refocus and see what you really want.
Con: It’s probably not going to be as good as you remember. Just like anything, you over-romanticise the experience in your head. A bit like going back to your old school after you’ve left: it looks the same, but something about it feels weird and different.
Pro: It boosts your ego: someone does still want to sleep with you, you’re still attractive to them and that feels good, and probably the sex feels good too. If you can take it or leave it, why not?
Con: Most people cannot take it or leave it! You might just leave wanting more than sex, wanting more of a commitment: if you’re sleeping with them in the hope that you might rekindle things, then stay away. They most likely cannot give you what you want and you’re in denial: remember it has ended.
Pro: Consensual sex, for the most part, is just objectively good. If you were only having a little tiff and it went too far, having a big discussion and sleeping together afterwards works wonders.
Con: They might use it against you. If you’re the dumper and you keep sleeping with your ex, you are going to be accused of leading them on. If you’re the dumpee, you might feel that you can’t sleep with anyone else during that time because of some unfounded loyalty and your ex might be upset if they found out.
Pro: It’s safe. If you really feel the need to sleep with someone, probably sleeping with your ex is safer than sleeping with a random person from HIVE. STIs are much less likely and at least you might get breakfast?
Con: Self-esteem issues; there was a reason you broke up, and having sex with someone, especially if they dumped you, might make you feel a bit rubbish.
Pro: If you catch feelings again and you’re the dumper, then you might be lucky enough that they’ll take you back and then, with a lot of effort, things might blossom again.
Con: Catching feelings all over again! Imagine, going through all that pain of breaking up with someone and then you realise you were horribly wrong, but by that time they are so over you.
Perhaps this might give you some insight into why your friends keep going back to their awful exes, or why they keep telling you to stop going back to yours. My final thoughts on this is that sleeping with your ex can be very empowering, if you can continue without feelings like nothing has happened. However, I’m inclined to believe that a lot of people lean towards being more emotional, and going back to an ex would just trigger more hurt. Just think, if you wouldn’t want your best friend to do it, you shouldn’t do it either.
All of these pros and cons come with a big caveat: if your ex has ever put you at risk, in terms of emotional, physical or mental abuse, under all circumstances do not go back to them. A night of passion is never as important as your physical and mental health.