Sex with an ex, like most things that rhyme, is not that cool. (See also: Hobby Lobby, Helter Skelter, FitBits... don't @ me.) TV and movies make "closure sex" — or, sex with a person who is very recently your ex — seem super normal and chill. I feel like Carrie Bradshaw and Big did the whole "we just broke up, but we need to BONE" thing seven times. Then again, Carrie had a lot of terrible ideas. (Like storing her clothes in her oven.) In real life, is sex after a breakup ever a good idea?
I'll give closure sex this: it's nice to have "one last time." (Um, well, if you enjoyed the sexy times you had with your partner.) I'll also give closure sex the benefit of the doubt since it is nice to have sex with someone who knows your body/likes/wants/needs well. However, let's be real: most breakups end with one partner feeling a lot more torn up than the other.
In my humble opinion, sleeping with someone who just cause you to cry-puke due to sadness seems... complicated. I spoke to clinical sexologist Dr. Dawn Michael about whether sex can help you move on, or if it's just bound to keep you connected to your ex. Here's what she shared:
Closure Sex Is Not A Great Idea
I have definitely hung on for dear life after being dumped. I completely understand that feeling the closeness of sex with a partner feels like it will mitigate the pain of knowing that a relationship is over. Here's the thing: our brains are wrong. Closure sex is NOT going to help.
"[Closure sex] is just going to prolong the pain and the loss, best to cut ties and move forward with life," says Dr. Michael. This could sound harsh, but she's right. I can look back on every ending to every relationship in my life, and whether the sex happened mid-break up or a few months later, I shouldn't have gone there. "Professionally I don't believe in closure sex because it mostly just benefits the one leaving and hurts the one being left," says Dr. Michael. I say: heed this advice!
Really, Don't Sleep With Your Ex
I asked Dr. Michael if it was ever possible to have closure sex the "right" way —as in, have the sex but don't catch the feelings again. "If one of you still has feelings for the other then there is no right way in my opinion and honestly that is why the break up is happening," she explains. I feel this. The only ex I've successfully rekindled sans feelings development was after a period of seven years. SEVEN.
And if you are the one who initiated the break up, don't be selfish. If you're in the middle of moving your things out of your shared apartment, don't have a quickie. It's only going to mess with your partner's mind, as well as yours. There are so many more Ds and Vs in the sea.
Seriously, Science Says Sex Will Complicate Things
Breakups suck. Two people parting ways, even when relatively undramatic, is painful. On top of that, science says that sex with an ex partner can make it even harder to let go. "When a woman has an orgasm and then cuddles she is releasing Oxycontin and that does not wear off quickly," says Dr. Michael. "Often times people will see each other and have sex and think that they made a mistake leaving because their judgement gets clouded." All the more reason not to do it.
My takeaway from all of Dr. Michael's advice? Closure sex is a god damn myth, and sex with an ex is like putting a bandaid on your V during your period. It's just not the right move in what is an already messy situation.
If you're going through a breakup, I recommend cozy PJs, a great snack (adult beverage optional), and a great movie. Spend time taking care of yourself and seeing your friends, and go on a date when you're ready for it. While it's tempting, sleeping with your ex is only going prolong your "I'm moving the f*ck on" timeline. Just say no to ex sex!
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