‘I can’t resist it. Every time the sex is over, we both agree we must never do it again. Two weeks later, we’re back there again.’
‘He cheated, didn’t pay for a thing and all my friends hated him and I put up with all of it for the sex. I still have sneaky sex with him and don’t tell a soul.’
J-Lo isn’t the only one who never did stop thinking about her ex – almost two-thirds of married people agree their ex is on their mind far too often.
Forty-three percent of single women in another study took it further than just thinking: they regularly had sex with ex-partners while looking for a new lover, along with 47 per cent of men.
Just about all of us admit to having sex with an ex on at least one occasion. It’s extremely common – but why is it so damn appealing?
I asked people to tell me the reasons why they went back, even if the break-up was painful.
The first is sheer laziness mixed with alcohol…
J-Lo isn’t the only one who never did stop thinking about her ex – almost two-thirds of married people agree their ex is on their mind far too often, says Tracey Cox
The chance of them saying ‘yes’ is high
You’re drunk, you feel like a bit and it’s late. Sure, you could take your chances on Tinder but that seems like so much effort (not to mention potentially dangerous).
Drunk-texting a sexy ex is something most are guilty of – usually with success.
If the relationship was casual, no-one got hurt, the sex was good and they’re also single and in the mood, why would they say no?
‘I have two or three exes that I know I can count on for casual sex if I’m horny and don’t have a partner. I’m sure it will stop once we all have serious relationships but it works right now!’
Warning: Why sex with an ex rarely ends well
It seems like such a good idea at the time but you sure you really want to go there?
Here’s what people told me when I asked for their ex-sexperiences on social media…
‘I’d never really got over him and was so excited when he called me years later to say he was back in town. I thought it meant he wanted to try again; for him, it was just easy sex. He got to screw an old girlfriend he knew still held a candle for him. It make me feel used and I hated myself afterwards for not seeing through him.’
‘Sex was never the problem with us, it was her temper that caused us to split. She was the one who suggested we do a ‘friends with benefits’ type of arrangement and I instantly agreed. The sex was electric – she was so good at giving oral sex, no-one ever came close to beating her. I thought it went really well but two hours later, there she was drunk (again) and abusing me for ‘taking advantage’ of her.’
‘I thought it was make-up sex but for him it was break-up sex. We cuddled up afterwards and I thought he’d tell me how sorry he was about the split. (He cheated on me.) Instead, he told me how much he was going to miss me but that I was right to dump him. He followed it up by saying I wouldn’t have any problems finding someone else because my breasts were ‘nice and big’.’
‘Every time I’ve done it, it ends in disaster. It’s great while you’re doing it but the minute it’s over it feels sad and morose and reignites all the pain of the break-up.’
‘She was the Queen of The Booty Call. She’d only ever text or call after a big night out with her mates when she clearly didn’t score. I was the sucker who said yes every time she asked if she could come over. I thought she’d come around to loving me again but she never did. I was her sex back-up, that was all. I wouldn’t have minded if I wasn’t still in love with her but I was. Still am probably.’
The connection is already there
‘It’s like coming home. Even if you’re not together anymore, it can’t erase all the history you had. Their smell, their touch, the cute nick-names, it’s sex that means something.’
One-night-stands have their appeal but, for most, sex is more enjoyable and pleasurable when it’s with someone we care about.
Your body remembers their body. You can trust them and feel safe with them. Familiarity makes us feel secure and that’s an aphrodisiac for some – particularly women.
They know our bodies and orgasm triggers
There’s another reason why familiarity works: the more often you’ve been with someone, the more likely they are to know what you like and what you don’t.
If you have a ‘thing’ – something extra you need to tip you over the edge – your ex not only knows about it, they know exactly when and how to do it.
‘My ex has a way of thrusting that gets me off every time. It’s that combined with the intense eye contact that keeps me coming back for more even though he was disastrous as a proper boyfriend.’
It’s better than having meaningless one-nighters
Plenty of people make ‘friends with benefits’ arrangements with exes – if you’re sensible, you’ll make ‘rules’.
‘My ex and I slept together casually for about eight months. Our sex was always good and it made sense to have sex with each other until we found someone we wanted to have a serious relationship with. I broke it off when I did and we moved into friendship without any drama and have remained friends.’
It works for a surprising number of couples.
The one (crucial) proviso is that you’re both on the same page. If one is there for the sex and companionship and the other is desperately hoping for a reunion, it’s obviously going to end in tears.
You can learn from your ex about performance in bed
Feeling insecure about your sexual prowess?
Who better than someone who has been there, done that, to give you reassurance – or an honest critique?
‘I always stay friends with my exes and they make the best sounding board for sex with future partners. I make it clear I’m looking for honesty not compliments and they’re happy to tell me what I’m good at and what needs improvement.’
The sex is great because the relationship wasn’t
Lust loves rollercoaster relationships.
Your heart might have hated the uncertainty, the fiery, foot-stomping arguments and constant do-they-or-don’t-they-love-me anxiety, but your sex life thrived on it.
The ‘bad boy’ or girl – the ones who make rubbish love partners but great sex ones – are appealing for a reason. They’re nearly always good looking and blessed with an obscene amount of sex appeal (if they didn’t, we wouldn’t go there!).
You look at them and think, I bet they’d be into everything in bed. This is why we do things with them that we wouldn’t dream of doing with someone we think might end up the mother or father of our children.
Tracey Cox (pictured) said revisiting an ex can provide a reminder of why you broke up, which is necessary to find another partner
Sometimes you need to go back, to move forward
If you’re really hung up on an ex and the ‘what-ifs’ are stopping you finding another partner, sometimes one last hurrah is just what you need.
There’s a reason why people break up and sometimes we need reminding. Revisiting the relationship – even if it’s just for one or two weeks – will usually do just that.
The sex might be hot but the same old problems inevitably resurface. For most, it’s enough to jolt us out of our idealised recollections into what the relationship was really like.
What YOU can do if sex with your ex was better than with your partner
Panic not! There are ways to break the spell.
Figure out what the magic ingredient was
Ok, sometimes it’s chemistry (which is either there or it isn’t). But other times, the ‘sex spark’ is caused by something you can recreate with your new partner.
Sex is often great with an ex because you instinctively know on some level that it isn’t going to last. This makes sex more ‘mindful’: you’re very much in the moment because you’re aware it’s not always going to be available to you.
This also makes us more adventurous. If we’re not auditioning as the perfect spouse, we’re more likely to suggest and agree to doing more adventurous things.
The takeaway? Stop worrying about being judged and have the confidence to let loose a little. Keep your eyes open and focus on what’s happening.
Let your partner know what you like and don’t like
Once you’ve honed in on why the sex was good, communicate what you’d like more or less of to your partner. Far too often, we expect our partners to be mind-readers.
Sometimes, you get lucky (like with your ex) and you find someone with the same sex personality as you. Most of the time, you need to teach your partner with tactful, sensitive feedback.
While we’re on the topic of tact, don’t EVER tell a current partner how great sex was with an ex. They will never – and I mean never – forgive you. You’ll still be reassuring them when the grandkids come along.
Put the ‘fun’ back into a functional relationship
Another reason why sex with an ex seems far more attractive than the person you’ve been with for years?
Our ‘hot sex ex’ is nearly always someone we either had a casual relationship with, or one that was so unreliably on-again-off-again, it never had the chance to get serious.
The problem with falling in love and ‘settling down’ is that it turns us into boring buggers. Instead of spending on all Sunday having sex, we spend it traipsing around Ikea, making a nice home for ourselves.
Saving for a mortgage, forging relationships with each other’s families, working on our careers – all the ‘grown up’ stuff moves relationships from being ‘fun’ to ‘functional’.
If you make the transition too quickly – or don’t remember to add in the ‘fun’ part – sex very quickly becomes dull and routine.
Remind yourself of why you split
It’s very easy to idealise or catastrophise past relationships. If the experience was awful and we now detest the person, any good parts are forgotten. If we still hold a flame, the bad gets glossed over and the good becomes inflated.
Was the sex really as good as you remember or have you sprinkled sex fairy dust?
Even if the sex was fantastic, the rest of the relationship wasn’t or you would still be with this person.
Remind yourself of the reasons why it didn’t work out. Sex equates to about one quarter or our enjoyment in the whole relationship.
No one person is going to tick every single box.
Having said that, if your relationship is also so-so, it might mean you’ve settled for someone you really aren’t that attracted to.
Tracey’s award-winning new podcast, SexTok is out every Tuesday. You’ll find a link to it on traceycox.com along with details of both her product ranges.