Sex with an ex is tempting. It can be easy to engage in during times of loneliness and insecurity, it can work as a boost to our self-confidence when we’re single and it can be particularly difficult to avoid if the relationship we had with that ex was one that was deep and powerful. So, it should be no surprise that one recent study showed that sex with an ex is fairly common among young people.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Adolescent Research in November 2012, took place in Ohio and followed 792 young adults from the ages of 17-24, each of whom had been in a relationship within the past two years. The results showed that 27 percent of individuals in the study reported having sex with an ex, and that 44 percent of individuals had gotten back together at least once with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Of these, 53 percent who have reconciled with an ex also admitted to having sex with their ex. The study also notes that previous research has shown that college students who had sex with their exes mostly described this experience as “negative.”
The authors of the study name this constant flux in young relationships “relationship churning,” and they warn young people of this potentially faulty behavior. Sex with an ex, they said, may conjure up emotional distress — technically you are broken up, but emotionally you are still connected. Consequently, moving on from the ex may become more difficult.
While sex with an ex ranges from experience to experience — getting back with an ex may be the right choice for some people and wrong for others — it is wise to be mindful of one’s motives before engaging in the act. Before making the decision to get back together, have sex, or both, we should remind ourselves of the reasons why we broke up with our previous girlfriends or boyfriends in the first place. That way, perhaps, if we do make that decision to get back with an ex, we can feel confident that lust, loneliness and insecurity weren’t primary motivators, and that it really was the right decision to make.