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Sex with an ex?
October 17, 2009 12:15 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to hear stories or comments from others who have slept with their exes.

I am a woman in my 40's....I had dated my ex-boyfriend for about 2 years, off and on. He was an alcoholic & liar during that time. Slept with other women without telling me supposedly during our "off" times, but there were definately overlapping times in which he never disclosed what he was doing. I found out and broke it off, then we got back together and on the cycle went. He no longer sleeps with other women, or so he says. Of course I do not believe him. He stopped drinking 6 months ago. But his basic selfishness & dishonesty continued.

Anyway, during our last break up & no contact for 6 weeks, I finally caved and called him to come over in the middle of the night, "just for sex". Of course, he comes over, jumping at the chance for sex. I had thought in the past, and wonder now if sex was his sole or main desire all along, not a real relationship.

We now have done this 2 times, and the experience was good, I guess. It was just plain sex. There was no intimacy. In fact, the whole thing from beginning to end was in the dark with absolutely no eye contact. I still hate him, but feel good to have this physical comfort, being quite lonely. I am "using" him now, and that feels like some sort of revenge, but I am sure he is not being hurt at all in this, as he enjoys it too.

I just wonder, how do you keep from getting hurt out of something like this? This really is not my nature, as I really want to have an emotional, real, relationship with sex growing out of that. I have found that I feel a little sad and dissappointed with the emptiness, being that the sex is devoid of any communication, intimacy, sharing of emotion. But I find if he just comes over late at night, then leaves right away, I can sort of "compartmentalize" this away from the rest of my daily life.

At the same time, it does feel a little liberating to just use him for sex and enjoy it just for that.

Any other people out there who have done this and have some stories to share or advice?
Thank you.
posted by bananaskin to Human Relations (28 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh, hate sex can be gooood!

Having emotionless, quick and dirty sex with an ex can do a couple of things. One, it can fulfill a basic urge with someone you at least trust enough to know what he likes. Two, you get to close out a relationship without the "what ifs," if it's just for sex.

It can get hairy if there's lingering emotional issues that aren't resolved, but if you like the physical aspect and find that the past doesn't intrude in a negative way, it can be lots of fun.
posted by xingcat at 12:31 PM on October 17, 2009


As someone who split with her husband and did *not* have sex with him after we made the decision to separate, I can say that not falling prey to that temptation makes the breakup much easier.

Having sex with him complicates the process in which you experience life without this guy, and look toward relationships with other men. Do you really want to compartmentalize the act of sex? Is this even possible? I think you're just kidding yourself about the extent to which you can really treat it just as a mechanical act without all the emotional intimacy. So just don't do it anymore.

I know that wasn't what you were asking for.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:32 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Why do you think you can't do better?
posted by fourcheesemac at 12:33 PM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Why do I think I can't do better"? That is a good question. One Answer: I am living in a place I hate, out in the middle of "nowhere", I don't fit in here, I have tried to meet men more my style, they just are not here. Yes, I am going to move in a year, just not financially able to until then. I feel like I am just passing time here and this sex is just to take off the edge for now.

I never have been a kind of person to be able to compartmentalize like this, and actually, so far, I am surprised that I am doing it rather well. I am actually liking the arrangement so far.

That first comment from xingcat, actually, the points you make are how I feel. I just have a small nagging thought that this may go awry somehow.

Yes, I am open to both pro and con comments here. Please keep all the comments coming. This is very helpful.
Thank you.
posted by bananaskin at 12:45 PM on October 17, 2009


"I just wonder, how do you keep from getting hurt out of something like this?"

By communicating, setting boundaries, and being able to trust the other person.

My first reaction upon reading your story is that there are "good" and "bad" FWB (Friends With Benefits) type of situations. Yours strikes me as a "bad" type (I could be wrong, but thats just my impression) because you're building it on a foundation of a (recent) negative history AND... well, sleeping with someone you loathe can't be healthy.

I maintained a FWB relationship with an ex-gf ON and OFF for a few years, .. for the most part it worked enjoyably for both of is, although there were occasional situations where I reacted jealously/unhealthily at choices she was making. (the behavior on my end wasn't violent or hurtful.. just borderline annoying drunken feelings of attachment.

ex-gf and I have known each other for 10+ years, so we know each other rather well. On occasion we still hookup but it hasn't happened for a while now.
posted by jmnugent at 12:50 PM on October 17, 2009


My one experience in this realm. I had an ex-girlfriend with whom I maintained a friendly acquaintance. I was about to get into a long-term relationship and basically told my ex that we could 're-engage' then or never.

Our love life had been pretty good, maybe the best aspect of our relationship.

It was fine. No after effects, no lingering doubts. We were pretty firmly broken up, had other relationships in the interim. Just a nice romp with someone you know will be loving and appreciative.
posted by diode at 12:56 PM on October 17, 2009


Maybe I, and other women, have been trained to feel that this sort of sex without relationship makes us "bad", and so some of the negative feelings. I feel like I am finally feeling the way so many men seem to often view sex, except they often are not forthright.

Of course, I am still in search of a "real" relationship with a man I trust, admire, love. In the meantime, what can be wrong with this?
posted by bananaskin at 12:58 PM on October 17, 2009


I think a lot of people have slept with their exes even though they also knew better. It's hard to completely disengage from someone who's known you that intimately and with whom you have that kind of relationship. For a while, after you break up with someone, you still have those sexual urges -- but because it's so soon after your breakup, it's hard to distinguish between "sex in general" and "sex with THIS person." For a while, any time you think of sex in general, it's your ex you're thinking of because sex WAS that person for so long.

I wouldn't beat yourself up over what you've done -- almost everyone has done this at least a couple times. However, I wouldn't keep doing it, either, because it sounds like your emotions are getting a little stirred up -- not "oh I want him baaaaaaack" kind of emotions, but you're having a more hollow, "so, is this all I'm gonna get out of my life? That kinda sucks," emotions. If you'd just had a romp and it was cool, that would be different -- but it sounds like you're sleeping with him but it's giving you weird emotional hangovers, and THAT is the reasons why I wouldn't do that again. Not because of any morality thing or whatever -- it's scratching your itch, but then it's also making you a little moody, so...that's probably a sign that "maybe this isn't such a great idea."

But please don't beat yourself up over this or think you've done something weird or weak or whatever. The sex urge is strong, and so are the emotional ties we form DURING sex. (There's a reason that I didn't even have sex at ALL for several months after my last big breakup; it took me that long to feel like I wasn't going to burst in grief-stricken crying in the midst of things.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:06 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I feel like I am finally feeling the way so many men seem to often view sex, except they often are not forthright.

Yes, I do wonder if my viewpoint is colored more because I'm a gay man, so there's only the male perspective involved on both sides.

Male-male relationships come with their own set of bullshit, but I do think that men compartmentalize a bit more. (That's a sweeping generalization based on my own experiences, of course.)
posted by xingcat at 1:06 PM on October 17, 2009


Well, as long as it's just about the sex, you're better off than us men are. Chances are near 100% that if you ask a guy at the local pub if he wants to have sex, you'll be successful.

I get that you already feel comfortable with the ex, while random one night stands are more risky, but if you never get out of your comfort zone, you aren't going to move on. You can "compartmentalize" a one night stand just as easily, plus, you might meet someone you like by accident.
posted by ctmf at 1:07 PM on October 17, 2009


Is the sex benefiting you? Is it enhancing your life in some way(s)? If yes, go for it.

It just seems to me that you're settling for sex with this guy because he's to hand, and you're making yourself miserable by doing it. You're sexual needs are being taken care of, but not your emotional needs, and need for intimacy which is very closely tied to your need for sex. I ask this in all seriousness - is something like a vibrator an option? There's less expectation of emotional bonding with it, you don't have a history with it, and it doesn't hurt you emotionally. You get the orgasm, but the intimacy part of your brain isn't left feeling hungry because there's not another person there for it to develop an appetite for.

If you're not the sort of person that can handle no-strings-sex with an ex, then that's something that you can't handle. That's not a bad or negative thing. It's just the way you're wired. Trying to force yourself to be wired that way won't end well, I don't think. You'll just make yourself more and more miserable, having a fumble in the dark with a guy who just sees you as a willing recipient for his penis. That's all he sees you as. If he respected you, he wouldn't have lied to you and slept with other women.

Again, if it's working for you, then go for it. But I get the impression from your post that it's not.
posted by Solomon at 1:23 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I just notice that when I am having sex with my exes, I have less of a drive, or chance to connect with someone else.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 1:26 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


For me, having sex with an ex is way too intimate if I'm just trying to satisfy a need for physical comfort. As a male, I suppose that I have different concerns surrounding my comfort level with respect to strangers vs. close others. Perhaps we're just different people, but if I personally wanted to have sex just to satisfy the urge to fuck, I would be much more likely to look for someone new than to open myself up to the host of strange and sometimes difficult emotions that goes along with reinstating an old sexual relationship. Then again, I'm on pretty decent terms with most if not all of my exes, so I can't speak to hooking up with someone that I honestly dislike yet still have a history with. If this works for you, go for it. For me, if I have sex with an ex, it never stays just sex for long.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 1:46 PM on October 17, 2009


If you're interested in no-strings-attached sex, why not have it with strangers or acquaintances instead of with a man you used to love who cheated on you repeatedly and is a jerk?

I guess what I'm asking is, what is it about this guy? Either you're not emotionally attached, in which case you could be having sex with anyone instead of rewarding a guy who doesn't deserve it, or you do have an attachment to this guy that makes you want to have sex with him specifically, in which case I'd predict that you're likely to get hurt.
posted by decathecting at 3:00 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


You are getting hurt out of it.
posted by Not Supplied at 3:01 PM on October 17, 2009


At the same time, it does feel a little liberating to just use him for sex let him use me for sex and enjoy it just for that.

I have done this before, and it has been an interesting extra chapter of my knowledge of this person, but it's also been plenty painful at times. From your description of events, it sounds like you can't trust this person, and that's a big red flag for any sexual partner, regardless of what your relationship is or was. Move on now while you can.
posted by hermitosis at 3:01 PM on October 17, 2009


I think your big risk here is if you call and he says "no". Then you will have all sortsof emotional issues about why he did not or will not say yes. The issues between me ande my ex arose from why not, not why.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 3:15 PM on October 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


Ok, this is really good you guys. Thanks so far. This is all making me think.

Truth is, yes, I am stating that this is "sex only", in which case one would think I could just as easily go out and get a one-night-stand with a stranger. But actually, doing that would take a lot of time, effort, and what if the guy turns out to be scary, violent, and the sex no good. At least with this ex, I know I won't end up in a physically dangerous place.

Second, I feel emotionally comfortable with the familiarity of the ex.

Third, I feel like I am working out some anger or something, I don't know what it is, by having sex-only with him. Maybe I feel like I am finally "in charge" because I say "let's have sex" and he comes running like a dog to his dinner. Maybe it is a psychological thing where I feel I am getting some power back.

And finally, of course the obvious, maybe I am just not "over" him yet, and I miss him, but I KNOW a relationship is HOPELESS, but this is one step down to being away from him forever....letting go. I hope it is not that.

But maybe it is a combination of all of the above.
Or maybe, I am just being stupid.
posted by bananaskin at 3:31 PM on October 17, 2009


Does it take anything away from the rest of your life? Are you spending time agonizing over it or being upset? It doesn't seem like it's keeping you from forming a relationship with anyone else.
posted by kathrineg at 3:36 PM on October 17, 2009


Okay, it seems like you're asking for a brainstorm about what could go wrong. Some ideas:

Is there any chance that you'd let down your guard? Say, something bad happened at work, and you want comfort and distraction, and you think "sex would be nice, I'll call him," but subconciously, you're looking for sex plus emotional comfort. Then what?

It seems like you're kinda enjoying getting back at him. Is there anything he could do that would make it so that suddenly, you're not getting back at him, but either you're being subjected to the same old crap, or you actually get trapped back in wanting things to be different than they were? What could he do that would make him "in charge?"

Is it doing anything to your self-esteem to keep hanging around this person that you find grungy? At some point after you've kinda gotten over the spiteful delight, will you start to continue to try to want to enjoy it, and somehow find yourself feeling like you've sunk to his level?

Will it slow you up from getting over him? At a certain point, the anger toward someone fades into "whatever, I'm better off," or something, but I can imagine that continued contact would keep you down in the fires of anger, instead of letting you rise above it to a broader and more enjoyable life.
posted by salvia at 3:40 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems like you feel guilty for enjoying it, because you feel like you're doing something stupid and/or somehow cruel.
posted by kathrineg at 3:47 PM on October 17, 2009


Maybe I, and other women, have been trained to feel that this sort of sex without relationship makes us "bad", and so some of the negative feelings. I feel like I am finally feeling the way so many men seem to often view sex, except they often are not forthright.

Of course, I am still in search of a "real" relationship with a man I trust, admire, love. In the meantime, what can be wrong with this?


See, there's a big difference between "this makes you a bad person" and "this could blow up in your face." You're doing a fine, normal, totally ethical thing, especially since you've been honest with him that it's just sex. But man, if it goes wrong, you'll be really miserable doing a fine normal totally ethical thing, and that's no fun.

You're also worried about whether he's enjoying it. But frankly, who cares if he enjoys it? It's not your job to punish him or to show him the error of his ways. You broke up with him to protect yourself and your own feelings, not to try to make him a better person, right? (Right?)

Quit worrying about him and his point of view — he's a grownup, he can take care of himself, and you're not going to break him or reform him. Just make sure you're not giving him a chance to hurt you more.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:53 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


He was an alcoholic & liar during that time. Slept with other women without telling me supposedly during our "off" times, but there were definately overlapping times in which he never disclosed what he was doing. I found out and broke it off, then we got back together and on the cycle went. He no longer sleeps with other women, or so he says. Of course I do not believe him. He stopped drinking 6 months ago. But his basic selfishness & dishonesty continued.

I personally wouldn't have sex with THIS ex.
posted by availablelight at 4:17 PM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


i have had far too much experience with this question. i think sex with your ex can be perfectly fine if you are in the correct mindset. that's a pretty big "if." my most recent "official" ex and i had sex off and on for well over a year after the break up, to the point where he was cheating on his new girlfriend to continue to have sex with me. i don't recommend this scenario. i do totally understand how convenient and comfortable it is to do this. you already know each other, know what to do, know what to expect, feel safe, etc, etc. doesn't necessarily make it safe emotionally, though.

if you can truly say you to yourself: "i won't care if tomorrow he turns me down for sex and/or he find someone new to date, etc, etc." than i don't think you're doing anything wrong. if, however, you cannot say that to yourself, i would guess there are still emotional ties that do not actually make this sex-only. that would be the danger zone.

also: please do not let this sex-only scenario stop you from meeting other people. just because your sexual needs are being met does not mean you shouldn't go out looking for your other needs to be met as well. then maybe you won't need mr. ex anymore.
posted by itsacover at 5:18 PM on October 17, 2009


People above have pointed out most of the danger points re: sex with exes.

Of course, I think it matters that you are moving within the next year; this provides a nice firm cutoff point (which you should really take if you're interested in dating new people once you move).

In my experience it's been pretty easy to rely on sex with the ex to take the edge off; but unfortunately that makes me less likely to go through the effort required to find someone new (still single 3 years later in my case). Consider where you're at on this issue, and don't let the sex with the ex turn into something of unknown duration.
posted by nat at 9:44 PM on October 17, 2009


"Of course, I am still in search of a "real" relationship with a man I trust, admire, love. In the meantime, what can be wrong with this?"

That depends. Are you sharing your body with someone you trust, or are you sharing your heart with someone you don't. Or, is it maybe a combination of the two?

Sharing your body is fine so long as you feel safe in doing so. You're an adult, y'know. You can also drink beer without worries of getting busted and even eat ice cream for breakfast if you want. Isn't being a grown-up fun? Yes it is!

Sharing your heart with someone you cannot trust is doom. DOOOOOOM!!!
posted by 2oh1 at 11:14 PM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


So here's another question. How frequently do you have sex with someone in this type of arrangement? For those who have done this.
posted by bananaskin at 2:11 PM on October 18, 2009


Well, to answer your new question, I've been doing this for the last seven or eight months, but only 2-3 times a month or so. Prior to this arrangement, my ex and I broke up because of distance issues (he initiated the break up). While it can be confusing and I am having to constantly draw and redraw boundaries with my ex, it has yet to blow up in my face in any real way whatsoever. In fact, I am very happy with the situation as is. The main difference between our stories is that in my situation there is some intimacy. He doesn't leave right away, calls me "baby," and cuddles with me. This is a little strange sometimes, but really fine and I don't feel weird or hollow at all. It's loving and it's comfortable, and I think we're both happy (at least for now, I'm sure it won't be this way forever).
posted by SkylitDrawl at 11:53 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


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