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Solo Sabbatical

7 Sex with the ex

sexIt’s Valentine’s and you’re single. And, God forbid, depressed. You mightn’t want a relationship, but neither do you want to be alone on the most romantic (supposedly) day of the year. Just for February 14 you need to take a sabbatical from being solo. All you want is 24 hours and you’ll be grand again. And as you ponder this fact, who suddenly pops into your head? Your ex of course, who also happens to be unattached. And you think, bingo! What’s a booty call between old lovers? You’ve been there once, why not go there again?
Why not indeed. But stop for a moment before you pick up the phone or send that e-mail. Sex with an ex might seem simple in theory, but it can be a bit more complex in practice.
“I am constantly sleeping with ex boyfriends,” said Karen, who is 36 and ‘currently dating casually’. So she doesn’t need to hook up with any of them for this year’s Valentine’s so?
“No,” she agreed. “I’m sorted for 2009, thank God. But if I was single I probably would have engineered some kind of get together with one of them. The ones that aren’t married or in relationships I mean. There’s still a few of them left, believe it or not.”
And what would be the reason for this? The sex? The company? To stave off the loneliness?
“Probably all three,” admitted Karen. “I wouldn’t call myself a sucker for all that Valentine’s crap, but at the same time it’s hard to ignore it. And I just think sex with an ex is cool – no big deal. It’s the easy option. You know the person well so it’s comfortable. And as long as nobody’s getting hurt, where’s the harm?”
Ah yes. But therein lies the problem. What if one person is getting hurt?
“I think a lot of the time one person is more into it than the other,” said 28-year-old Gillian, who is now in a happy relationship. “I once broke up with a guy after only three months together but slept with him for a whole and a year after. I had deluded myself that if I stuck around that he would ‘see the light’ and we would get back together. In the end I decided I’d had enough and went off travelling. I was not totally to blame as he made all sorts of promises, and just kept telling me he was confused. But I had to leave the country in the end to break the pattern.
“You would think I’d have learnt my lesson then, but no. When I was in Australia I met a guy and went out with him for a few months. We broke up and he went back to Ireland, but when I came home we met up a few times and the inevitable happened. Luckily, this time, I copped on to my self-destructive behaviour and cut him off!”
It would seem that sleeping with the ex is not such a good move if both people aren’t looking for the same thing – ie a casual hook up with the strings.
“I’ve slept with an ex and it was the worst thing I’ve ever done because she wanted more out of it then I did,” said 25-year-old Eoin. “It was just a drunken thing, which didn’t mean anything – to me anyway. But it did to her and there was so much grief after that it just wasn’t worth it. I didn’t need to have sex that badly!”
Wise words indeed Eoin. Sometimes you just gotta keep it in your pants!
So with Valentine’s upon us, what to do if you’re feeling the urge to booty call an ex? Well, there are obvious advantages of course. It’s certainly cheap – no need for an expensive date in a swanky restaurant. A bottle of wine and a ‘your place or mine’ will do the trick. Plus, as Karen pointed out, it’s easy. There’s no ‘getting to know you’ foreplay – instead it’s straight into the comfort zone and then the bed.
But beware. Nothing is ever that simple! Rekindling an old flame can also have the effect of highlighting the stuff that broke you up in the first place. Both of you need to question your motives. Are you doing it for fun? Just so you can get laid? If so, that’s fine. Or are you doing it because you secretly still love the person and want him/her back? Because that is dangerous territory and not fine. Perhaps we should leave the last word to Samantha in Sex and the City, who once remarked: “Sex with an ex can be depressing. If it’s good, you can’t get it anymore. If it’s bad, you just had sex with an ex.”

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