One of the shadiest things I ever did in college was sleep with two different guys in one day. Morally questionable, sure, but you see, one of them didn’t really count—he was my ex. I’d stopped by to pick up my things, and we had one last hurrah, a going-away party to seal the breakup deal, even though I was already dating someone else.
At the time I was under the impression that since he wasn’t a new notch on the bedpost, sleeping with my ex didn’t matter. Not true, of course, but when it works, ex sex is sort of like a get-laid-free card: easy, superhot, and painless. When it doesn’t, it’s, well, the exact opposite. But right or wrong, most girls are more than willing to risk future awkwardness by returning to a past fling. Choose the right ex and you could get laid free, too.
One of the biggest draws of sex with an ex is that it allows you both to be truly uninhibited. After all, you’ve already decided a relationship won’t work; the only thing left to do is screw.
“My ex booty-calls me from time to time, and I always accept,” says Leslie,* a 23-year-old saleswoman. “Because we know exactly what the meeting is about, we don’t sugarcoat it by making small talk like you would even with a friend with benefits. We just get down to the dirty business. We know exactly how to make each other come.”
Postbreakup, the fact that you already know how to work our bodies is suddenly your greatest (and maybe only) asset, and we’re thrilled to take advantage, especially since we’re no longer pissed at you for leaving empty pizza boxes in the living room.
“I had the best sex of my life with an ex-boyfriend,” says Angela, 27, a nanny. “It was even hotter than when we were dating, because there were no complicated emotions involved. We continued to do it for four months after we broke up and even experimented with stuff like spanking and sex toys, I guess because the tension between us was finally gone.
We stopped because I wanted to get serious with someone I’d met, but up until then I’d never
had more fun.”
Ideally, that’s what ex sex boils down to: a nothing-to-lose wager for both parties, a hedonistic stopover en route to your next healthy, committed relationship, which will hopefully be as down and dirty as your old one is about to become. As a close friend says of sex with her former long-term beau, “We were sweet and tender with each other when we were dating—you can’t exactly call your girlfriend a filthy little slut if you’re meeting her parents at brunch afterward. But I liked when he called me that stuff after we broke up. It’s like we no longer had to be polite. We got really nasty.”
Naturally, not every foray into ex sex is so clear-cut. If there are still fuzzy emotions on either side, proceed with caution, although sleeping together is not necessarily a bad idea. “Having sex with my ex one last time gave me closure,” says Katy, a 27-year-old teacher. “Things had ended badly, but boning one more time allowed us to just have fun together. It was the final step in getting him out of my system.”
The problem is that rather than taking the place of a torturous final “talk” about your feelings, ex sex can bring one on. “I used to have sex with my old boyfriend whenever he called, but I wasn’t really over him,” says Jenny, a 26-year-old bartender. “Every time he left, I’d cry and call him, asking if he wanted to give things another shot, which he didn’t. Finally I had to just say no so I could move on and stop feeling used.” So if you ever talked seriously about marriage, were on a first-name basis with her parents, or wrote her a sonnet, you’re on thin ice.
Worst-case scenario: Another roll in the hay ends up being a scary bout of hate sex. “I thought screwing my ex after our awful breakup would be cathartic, but it was a disaster,” says Emily, a 29-year-old photographer. “The sex was great because we were both aggressive, but that carried over into a blowout fight afterward. I threw a chair at him and put a dent in my wall; he called me a psycho and stormed out. Not so hot.”
An Ex to Grind
To avoid dented walls and tearful calls, you may want to consider one special kind of ex to sleep with: the one who doesn’t live nearby. “I have an old college boyfriend who lives in L.A., but every time he visits New York, we end up in the sack,” says Rachel, a 27- year-old makeup artist. “It’s so comfortable to be naked with him, even if two years pass in between boning. But I’m always a bit relieved our time is limited. If we behaved that way with easier access to one another, I could see things getting complicated.”
Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to have an out-of-stater. In that case the best thing to do if you’re itching to get some from an ex is to wait long enough after the breakup that there’s no confusion about what both of you want. (To be certain you’re on the same page, you may want to have an actual conversation about it.)
Ex sex can still sometimes lead to a reunion, but nearly all the women I talked to said rekindling flames wasn’t their goal. They just wanted to take care of a craving with someone who knew how to satisfy them. “No one gets my body like my last boyfriend,” says Coco, 26, a researcher. “There’s no fumbling, no performance anxiety; he just goes right to town and makes me come.”
Having the key to her body map is enough to keep her saying yes—at least until she ends up seriously dating someone new. Or, if she’s really bad, even then.
He Thought, She Thought
How exes go from “friendly drink” to “massive regret.”
(Him) “She looks hot.”
(Her) “Is that a double chin?”
(Him) “This is nice.”
(Her) “It’s a double chin head-on, not from the side.”
(Him) “I can see part of her bra.”
(Her) “I bought him that shirt.”
(Him) Reminiscing about her bras.
(Her) Reminiscing about gifts given to him.
(Him) “Is she…flirting?”
(Her) “Is he…flirting?”
(Him) “We are definitely flirting.”
(Him) “Know what’s a great idea? Tequila!”
(Her) “OK. He’ll think I’m laid-back.”
(Him) “Know what’s a great idea? Tequila!”
(Her) “More tequila?”
(Him)“Why didn’t I find her this sexy before?”
(Her) “He looks cute in that shirt.”
(Him) “Yes! She’s in my bed!”
(Her) “Thank God I haven’t eaten in weeks.”
(Him) “That was amazing! I think I love her.”
(Her) “I think he still loves me.”
(Him)“I told her, awesome!”
(Her) “I knew it!”
(Her) “Open your eyes!”
(Him) “Oh, shit, shit, shiiiiit.”
(Her) “We’re so back together!”
It's a dangerous gamble, but sometimes ex sex is the best sex.