During a conversation at Seven Sisters tube station, Laura realized her short romance with work colleague Jack was ended when he confessed he was “still in love with his ex.” She recalls how her roommate caressed her hair while she cried in bed and gave her pizza while they watched Clueless together in their living room. She vividly recalls the toe-curlingly uncomfortable discussion she was obliged to have with her line manager the following day when she handed in her notice.
She found herself agreeing despite the breadcrumb path of agony Jack had left for her three months later (remember when people went out for drinks in 2019?!). She even put on her lacy red thong underneath her leather skirt before she walked out the door.
‘In my mind, I was thinking, he’s a jerk, I really don’t want this, but I also wanted to know whether or not he was still interested in me, and whether or not I still had feelings for him,’ she reveals.
There are a plethora of reasons why individuals wind up having sex after a breakup, and Laura’s curiosity about whether she and Jack still had chemistry between the sheets is only one of them. In contrast to the good old days before the internet, we are now compelled to face our ex-partners on a regular basis, as they appear on social media channels and mobile applications. Even our iPhone is eager to spit out random pictures on our home screen, giving us a picture of us and our ex SO at better times precisely when we’re feeling our most vulnerable.
“Breakup sex may go one of two ways,” says Sarah-Louise Ryan, a dating and relationship specialist. “It may confirm that the spark or emotional connection has been extinguished in a relationship, or it can indicate that one of the two has realized that they do not, in fact, wish to draw a line in the sand.” When we physically interact with an ex again, we may experience an emotional re-start as a result of the closeness. Although ‘closure’ signifies the end of something, some individuals who reunite with an ex for sex may be seeking for something casual, but they may wind up causing a slew of emotions by revisiting the past rather than focusing on welcome someone new between the sheets.
“In summary, having sex with someone after a breakup is a temporary solution to the physical and mental pain that both or one of you may be trying to heal in order to move on.”
Laura and Jack found themselves slipping back into the old, flirty behaviors after a few glasses of wine, which inevitably led to them returning to Jack’s bedroom.
While Laura acknowledges that the sex was ‘wonderful,’ she notes that it was not the gentle, sensitive sex that the couple had previously enjoyed, and that it brought her back to reality.
“He was talking about me in a filthy way that made me squirm,” she says with a chuckle. “And since I was at the top, I was responsible for the majority of the job.” I was filled with remorse the following day, particularly after learning that he’d begun seeing someone else at work and had placed his phone on airplane mode while we were out at the pub so she couldn’t disturb him while we were there. It just served to reinforce to me that he was a jerk, and we never spoke to one other again.”
When Aoife* had ‘closure’ sex with her ex-girlfriend Stephanie*, she experienced a similar sensation. During Aoife’s time overseas working, the couple enjoyed a passionate yet turbulent romance that lasted two years. After her parents’ abrupt separation, Aoife (who was determined to maintain good relations with Stephanie) needed someone to speak to about the situation, and their originally platonic encounter turned into a sexual encounter.
The intention was not there, but it was one of those things that happens when you’re going through a tough moment and you gravitate towards the person who makes you feel most at ease,” Aoife says.
“I was doing all I could to maintain control of myself, but the way she was acting, embracing and kissing me, I couldn’t.
It seemed natural to me even though I knew it was objectively incorrect. It’s still the greatest sex experience I’ve ever had to this day. In a sense, it was therapeutic.”
Sarah-Louise believes that divorce sex may be just as wonderful as, if not better than, the sex had during the previous relationship.
Her explanation is that “sex itself releases all of those feel-good chemicals to the brain, which helps reduce pain.” “When we orgasm, dopamine is produced, increasing our emotions of desire, drive, and pleasure, making it easier to connect such experiences with an ex.
It was her explanation that I found ludicrous; she said she’d been with a music producer who wanted to cast her in a music video, which made me chuckle since it was so absurd.
“When we are physically and emotionally close with someone, we are at our most vulnerable, and if there is no clear future, it allows room for conflicting feelings, a sense of being out of control, and concerns about what was, or is, to develop.”
In a nutshell, sex makes us happy. However, it is debatable how many people feel after having sex with an ex. “I usually hear tales of perplexity, mental anguish, or a desire for the physical in the same manner that they were before.”
When Aoife and Stephanie enjoyed a beautiful morning in bed together, she was optimistic that they would be able to talk about what happened the night before.
However, when Stephanie abandoned Aoife at her home without providing an explanation, she was quickly reminded of the reasons for their breakup.
According to Aoife, “she claimed she was nipping out, but she wasn’t back till the evening.” “The explanation she offered me was also a load of nonsense. It was so absurd that I couldn’t help but chuckle when she claimed she’d been with a music producer who wanted to put her in a video. The next night, she had a little too much to drink, and she became angry and abrupt with me. At that moment, I realized that unless I completely broke off all communication with her, the cycle would continue indefinitely. I suppose in a way, [the sex] acted as a wake-up call to the fact that I couldn’t go on like this any longer.”
Not all of our stories of breakup sex are as tragic as this one. Kat* showed up to her ex-boyfriend Michael’s* home, fueled by Dutch bravery after a night of drinking at university. She saw he was in on his own and made the decision to take her shot.
The couple separated around six months ago, but Kat says they attempted to stay friends since they had been together for so long. “I’d been seeing other individuals on a casual basis, but nothing really compared to what Michael and I had.”
While Michael was taken aback by Kat’s appearance on his doorstep, things soon escalated after Kat revealed her intentions.
“The sex was very amazing,” she says of the experience. “Even though Michael and I were well acquainted with one other’s bodies, none of my experiences since the separation had been especially pleasant.” “It felt comfortable and familiar.”
However, the following morning, after a cup of tea and two pieces of wholemeal toast prepared by Michael, the couple discussed their emotions and agreed to give things between them another go.
“In the end, we realized that we had broken up for reasons that might have been avoided, and we decided that what we had was worth fighting for,” she adds.
According to Sarah, having an open and honest discussion about the split is likely the only way to have objectively less difficult breakup sex.
In her words, “the concept of “closing” sex is to bring an end to the time that two people have spent together – it’s frequently referred to as “one last euphoric hoorah,” as it were. “It can only ever succeed if the two individuals involved completely cut off all communication thereafter. Consider the past in order to draw conclusions about what we want and do not desire. We should take advantage of this time to think and assess our situation.”
We were able to bring our relationship to a suitable close as a result of that experience. It provided us with the opportunity to go forward.
Kat and Michael’s reconciliation was short-lived, and the couple ended up splitting up for real the following year, but Kat is grateful for the last time she spent with her boyfriend.
According to her, “some people claimed we scratched an itch we shouldn’t have.” “However, on the whole, the event resulted in us finally putting our relationship behind us. It provided us with the opportunity to go on.”
Breakup sex, like breakups themselves, is seldom straightforward, often resulting in a labyrinth of emotions, confusion, and misery.
If you do find yourself going for your phone after your ex’s name appears on WhatsApp, wait until you are certain that you will be able to face your emotions later.
“Can sleeping with someone you care about for the final time ever be healthy?” According to Sarah, “More often than not, one person is always going to be harmed.”
“If the bridges haven’t been severely burned, it should also be noted that one person may just wish to leave the door open for sexual opportunities but not for genuine emotional connection.” This is difficult in and of itself since it has the potential to muddy the boundaries. “But for every example of closure sex being a good experience, I could probably show you a hundred instances and case studies where it hasn’t helped but has simply harmed one or both parties.”
*Some identities have been altered to protect the innocent.