Laura knew that her brief relationship with her colleague Jack was over when he confessed to her one evening at the subway station that he was still in love with his ex. She still remembers lying in bed sobbing while her roommate patted her head comfortingly. And she still remembers the infinitely uncomfortable conversation with her manager when she quit the next day.
And still: When Jack wrote her three months later if she would like to have a drink with him (yeah, 2019, when you were still allowed to go to bars! Crazy), she said yes - and put on a red lace thong before she met him. “In my head I kept saying to myself: 'He's an ass, I don't even want that.” But at the same time I wanted to know if he still wanted me, and whether I still felt something for him, ”she explains today.
Laura's curiosity as to whether the chemistry between her and Jack is still right is just one of countless reasons why people end up in bed with their exes after the breakup. And it's probably not that surprising at all; after all, thanks to social media and co., we are practically forced to follow the lives of our exes long after the breakup (and let's be honest, we've all stalked a bit). And iPhones in particular seem to have a sixth sense for spitting a photo retrospect from times in love at our feet precisely when we are feeling particularly melancholy. But is it even smart to poke old wounds like that?
"Sex with your ex has two possible consequences," says dating and relationship expert Sarah-Louise Ryan. “Either he confirms that the spark between you has meanwhile been extinguished - or one of you two notices that there are still feelings. The intimacy of sex may mistakenly breath new life into your emotional connection. Although you may just wanted to have casual fun, you will quickly find that a lot of old feelings come up again. Sex with your ex is a temporary solution to the physical and emotional pain after a break-up that so many want to be able to close with the person. "
He tried dirty talk and I found that embarrassing. Plus, I was upstairs and had to do most of the work. The next day I regretted everything.
It was the same with Laura and Jack. After a somewhat embarrassed beginning of their meeting, after a few glasses of wine they quickly fell back into old, flirty behavior - and finally ended up in Jack's bedroom.
While Laura thinks the sex was "good", it brought her back to her senses; because Jack wasn't as gentle and loving as he used to be. "He tried dirty talk and I found that really embarrassing," she laughs. “Also, I was up there and had to do most of the work. The next day I regretted everything - especially when I found out that he had had something with another colleague and had put his cell phone on silent when we met so she couldn't annoy him. That just confirmed to me again that he's an asshole. We haven't had any contact since then. "
Aoife * felt the same when she had "farewell sex" with her ex-girlfriend Stephanie *. The two had had a stormy, intense relationship for two years. After her parents suddenly separated, Aoife (who wanted to stay friends with Stephanie) needed someone to talk to - and their actually platonic reunion led to sex.
"I didn't see her to have sex - but you know that: You go through a difficult time and then you long for the person you feel most comfortable with," explains Aoife. “At the meeting I really tried to pull myself together - but when she hugged and kissed me, I couldn't hold back. I actually knew that was wrong - but it just felt so right. It's still the best sex I've ever had. It was kind of a healing experience. "
And yes: breakup sex can feel good - if not better than during the relationship, says Sarah-Louise. "Sex releases all of the happiness hormones in the brain that can relieve pain," she explains. “When orgasm, dopamine is released; that in turn creates passion, motivation and joy. It is easy to then relate these feelings to the other person. "
Sex makes us feel good - but when you have sex with your ex, the feelings are after that the problem.
“When we become physically and emotionally intimate with someone, we are very vulnerable - especially when our future together is uncertain. That leaves a lot of scope for mixed feelings. Maybe then we have the feeling that we have lost control and wonder how we should go on, ”says Sarah-Louise. “In short, sex makes us feel good - but when you have sex with your ex, the feelings are after that the problem. Most of them are confused, insecure afterwards or would like to be closer physically. "
After that was the hard part for Aoife, too. She hoped she and Stephanie could talk about what had happened between them the next morning. In fact, she was quickly reminded of why they'd split up in the first place when Stephanie ran away the next morning. “She said she'd be right back, but didn't come back until the evening,” says Aoife. “Her excuse for that was stupid, too: she said she had met with a music producer who wanted to cast her on a video. I just had to laugh; that sounded so absurd. "
"Then that evening she drank a little too much and got mad at me," she continues. “That's when I realized that we were going in circles - and that circle would never end if I didn't break contact between us. I guess the sex was kind of a food for thought for me, which made me realize that I just couldn't do this anymore. "
Of course, not all of these stories are so depressing - for example, those of Kat *. After a wet and happy night, Kat felt particularly brave and showed up at her ex Michael * 's home. She knew he was alone and decided to take her fate into her own hands. "We'd split up six months earlier, but had tried to be friends since then because we'd been together for so long," says Kat. "I've had a few casual dates since then - but compared to Michaels and my relationship, it was easy nothing to keep up. "
And although Michael reacted surprised when Kat suddenly stood in front of his door, things quickly got serious after Kat told him what she wanted. “The sex was really good,” she says. “Since the breakup, it hadn't been particularly satisfying with any other guy; Michael and I just knew our bodies so well. The sex was very familiar and somehow comforting. ”And although Kat wondered if she had done the right thing, the next morning brought clarity: After a cup of tea and two slices of toast, the two talked about their feelings and decided to do it to try again together. “We just realized that we could do something about our reasons for separation. We agreed that it was worth the effort, ”says Kat.
And Sarah also says: An open, honest conversation is the best method for less problematic breakup sex. "Many think of this sex as a kind of 'conclusion' to the relationship, as an orgasmic 'goodbye', as it were," she says. “That can only work like this if the contact is then completely broken off. We should only look back in time to learn from it - what we want, what we Not want."
In the end, there is usually one of you with a broken heart - especially when half of you may just feel like doing something physical.
Despite their conversation, Kat and Michael's reunion was short-lived. The following year the two separated for good - but Kat has no regrets. “Some say we shouldn't have rehashed our relationship with sex. But I think that he gave us the chance to say goodbye. So we could finish with everything. "
Like the breakup itself, breakup sex is rarely a clean cut; Both are usually accompanied by hurt feelings, insecurity and sadness. Therefore, if you find yourself scrolling through the Instagram profile of a past love and then sending a nice "Hey, fancy a coffee?", You should be sure that you are ready for the emotional consequences.
“Is it ever a good idea to sleep with someone you once loved?” Asks Sarah. “At the end of the day there is usually one of you with a broken heart - especially when half of you may just feel like doing something physical. That can be difficult because it blurs the lines between you. "
Sarah's conclusion is clear: “Sex with an ex can be a temporary respite from the pain of a breakup. But for every positive example I can tell you a hundred negative stories where the sex didn't help at all - it actually hurt one or both of the people involved. "
* Names have been changed by the editors