Sleeping with an ex doesn’t necessarily stop you from moving on
For years, conventional dating advice has argued that sleeping with an ex is a terrible idea and only prolongs the pain and heartbreak of breaking up. But new research has shown that sex with an ex after a breakup doesn’t necessarily stop two former lovers from moving on.
Researchers from Wayne State University conducted two studies involving people who had recently been involved in a breakup or who had engaged in intimacy with an ex to examine the impacts that sex had on moving on after a relationship.
The results, published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, show that even for people pining over an ex, sleeping together doesn’t prevent partners from moving on.
Understanding the motivations behind sleeping with past romantic partners was important for the researchers because it’s a shared experience for many people across all age groups and relationship types.
In one of the studies, the researchers interviewed 113 participants who had recently been through a breakup and later followed up with the participants two months later with an online survey asking about any lingering emotional attachment.
The second study included 372 participants who reported on any sexual engagement with an ex and emotional attachment as well.
Surprisingly, the researchers found that sleeping with an ex didn’t impede recovery after a breakup.
Even the participants who were still heavily emotionally attached didn’t suffer after a physical encounter with an ex. Instead, the researchers said that emotionally attached participants who slept with an ex were more positive in their everyday life.
“This research suggests that societal handwringing regarding trying to have sex with an ex may not be warranted,” said Stephanie Spielmann, the lead author of the study. “The fact that sex with an ex is found to be most eagerly pursued by those having difficulty moving on, suggests that we should perhaps instead more critically evaluate people’s motivations behind pursuing sex with an ex.”
According to Spielman, there is much to be learned from studies like these that delve into the more nuanced complications and motivations of romantic relationships. Understanding how something like sex with an ex can impact mental health and well being can help better inform someone’s post-breakup recovery.