Is Having Sex With Your Ex OK?


sad couple in bed
Can being being physically intimate with an ex hold you back from moving on?

Or did it? After all, she and I still liked being together, and the sex was good, so why should we deny ourselves the pleasure of continued, if far less frequent, intimacy? This was my point anyway, and she, unfortunately, let me persuade her. I say "unfortunately" because the result of our dallying with ex-sex was that we saw each other just enough to keep me hooked but not enough to keep me from being miserable about being in a relationship that was out of my control. I needed her to cut me off, but she wouldn't. She kept saying that I could just walk away, that everyone’s responsible for his own feelings and decisions, and blah, blah, blah.

But here’s the thing: I was the jiltee, not the jilter. And only the strongest of jiltees can just walk away. Needless to say, I was not a member of this elite group.


Which led me to the following relationship rule: in a breakup, it is purely the jilter's responsibility to deny the jiltee of ex-sex. The one who was dumped is like an addict who must be made to go cold turkey; if there's any hope of a score, he'll rationalize and lie and beg to get what he thinks he needs, which in this case is sex (or anything) with you. And your solemn duty is to cut him off.

Continuing to serve as his dealer while merely lowering his dosage is not only dangerous, but possibly illegal. So take a page out of Nancy Reagan’s book and "Just say no." He'll be glad you did.

Cathi Hanauer is the author, most recently, of Sweet Ruin, a novel about love, marriage, and adultery. Daniel Jones is the editor of both the "Modern Love" column for The New York Times, and Modern Love, an anthology derived from the column. They have been married for 15 years. Together they provide a his and hers take on your questions.

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