Sex with an ex will end with you feeling lonely and sad. Be careful what you settle for.
After a break-up it may be common to second guess yourself. You miss being held by your partner, you miss the smell of your partner, and you miss the sex with your partner. These feelings are so intense that you may find yourself in the position of seeking out your ex to try and make up. You may be trying to save the marriage before a divorce, or you may want to give the relationship a second start, but many times you want to be held and intimate with someone who knows your body, knows your past and has a history with you. The relationship you build at this time is called “an ex with benefits.” We have seen this played out in movies such as “It’s complicated” and it is a common theme in celebrity lives, as well as our neighbors and friends. In fact many people who are newly separated or divorced engage in having sex with an ex. The couple usually gets along better at this time than they did when they were married or together. The relationship has a heightened sense of energy and sexuality. The problems that may have lead to the breakup of the relationship don’t have the same intensity as they had before.
Although an ex with benefits may feel good for a short while it will not last. The lust and excitement you feel during this phase will soon fade as all of the old issues begin to surface again. They surface because as the couple becomes intimate, their expectations for being listened to, understood, and communicated with also become stronger. These needs were not resolved in the marriage or relationship; therefore it is likely that they won’t be resolved in this stage either. For example, when there was cheating involved it will soon become apparent that your ex is cheating on someone else to be with you. The revenge may feel good for awhile, but this good feeling will soon corrode into feeling cheap, and used by your ex. Maybe you split because of their irresponsibility with handling money or their life. When you begin seeing your ex with benefits and paying all the expenses, you may become wise to the fact that they haven’t changed and are not going to. If you continue being with them you will continue taking care of them and their irresponsible behaviors. Is that worth the benefits?
Despite most of us knowing that an ex with benefits will never work, when you are hurting, lonely, and depressed after a break-up you rationalize that you have little to lose in trying to work this relationship out. You tell yourself you need to try for the kids, or you were being unfair to your partner, or a mountain of other reasons. Any or all of these reasons are common, and in 99.9 percent of broken relationships the reasons will not justify the pain you’re going to go through in engaging with sex with your ex. However, if you still want to pursue sex with your ex these suggestions may help the healing process when it is finally over.
1. Make a list of every reason you want to get back for sex with your ex. If your reasons are more about soothing the loneliness you feel or feeling like a couple again, the chances are high that this is temporary filler. It would be wise to divert your focus into something new and interesting. Time is the greatest healer, and each week that passes without your ex you are one week closer to recovery.
2. Understand that although you may be able to have a sexual/physical relationship with your ex, your ex may not be able to handle a sexual relationship without trying to work on repairing the relationship. Be very clear up front with your expectations. If your intentions are to meet for sex without any other emotional obligations, make sure this is communicated to your ex.
3. If there are children involved don’t spend the night with your ex in your home. This is confusing for children. Divorce and separations are very painful and children hold a fantasy of having their mom and dad work things out. If you are on again and off again it causes anxiety and depression in children and most adults.
4. Wear protection. An ex is an ex because someone acted out in the relationship. No matter what your ex tells you, wear protection. There is no way of telling how many STDs happen with ex with benefits behavior, and how many pregnancies happen during this time.
5. No matter what you say verbally, sex with an ex is expressing to your ex that you are willing to settle for the way they treated you in the past as long as you can have sex with them. Make sure this is what you want to communicate to your ex. Most of the time when a relationship ends it means it was broken. Settling for the brokenness will deteriorate your self esteem and any respect you have for yourself.
Before you rationalize that it’s just sex, be sure you understand clearly what your motives are as well as your ex’s. There is a consequence with every behavior, and in this case the consequences are not worth the time invested emotionally or physically. The loneliest feeling you will ever have is waking up to realize it was just sex. –Mary Jo Rapini
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