Should You Have Sex With Your Ex?

Written by Paul Wolf

Are you craving some sexual healing with your ex?  You are not alone, many ex-couples get back in the sack.  But you may want to re-think the reunion. 

Why should Annie Alexander feel guilty?

She and Matt dated for years before they were married, and they remained friends after their divorce. When they slept together over the 12 years following their split, neither one felt inhibited about it.

Relationship Self Help:
Marriage After An Affair
Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex
Secrets of a Happy Marriage
Making Monogamy Sizzle
Get What You Want In The Bedroom
Patterns In Love
Get Back Your Mojo

"Matt was a comfortable old shoe," says Annie, an office manager in Virginia. "He was a nice guy. We just shouldn't have gotten married in the first place. I don't think there was a downside to our continued relationship."

These days sex before marriage is hardly shocking. But how do you feel about sex after marriage?

Watch This Video! Harville Hendrix, a featured relationship expert on Oprah, discusses what makes you attracted to someone.

John Berndt, a clinical psychologist specializing in divorce and child custody, believes as many as 20 percent of divorced couples end up sharing a bed at some point. And three-quarters of these couples are not on the road to reconciliation and remarriage, he adds.

"Some people say they continue to find their ex-spouses attractive, and that the sex part of their relationship hasn't died," he says. "In not every divorce do we have two people who have learned to absolutely hate each other."

Annie, now 54, says she and Matt were simply too young and immature when they tied the knot in 1973. Both were 21. As she explains it, marriage was the logical thing to do for two high school sweethearts whose parents had married early. As she looks back, she says she was never really in love with Matt.

Can sex with an ex really be as easygoing as it was for Matt and Annie?

According to Berndt, Annie and Matt fall into one category of post-matrimonial lovers. For these people, convenience and comfort are the themes. Those who are really giving their relationship another shot, with or without counseling, fall into a different category.

Finally, there is a disturbing third category, in which bedroom politics and abuse make sex a potent weapon in the scramble for money, property, custody, visitation or domination.

But even with the more benign motivations for post-divorce sex, there are good reasons to exercise caution.


Before having sex with your ex, consider the following:

Relationship Self Help:
Marriage After An Affair
Almost Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex
Secrets of a Happy Marriage
Making Monogamy Sizzle
Get What You Want In The Bedroom
Patterns In Love
Get Back Your Mojo

You Stay Stuck
This is not just any relationship. This is one that has proven to be a failure in at least one critical way. So what are you doing? Are you afraid to look for someone else, or merely unwilling to make the effort?

Sex with your ex creates a sense of settling, of hanging onto a few scraps of intimacy and pleasure. Prince Charming or the Woman of Your Dreams could be sitting across town wishing for someone just like you, but you'll never know. You're not out looking.

Two Break-ups Are Not Better Than One
Can you continue to have sex with someone and stay free of all emotional ties? If you can't, heartbreak No. 2 is on its way.

"Whatever caused it to end in the first place is going to cause it to end in the second place," says Berndt.

Your Life Becomes a Soap Opera
In most divorces, one spouse is more eager to part and move on than the other. It's bad enough to be divorced. Imagine getting a divorce and then being dumped because some 25-year-old caught your ex's eye at the supermarket and stole your Friday night slot.

Annie says she actually enjoyed being "the other woman" when Matt started to see others before she did. Not everyone can be so devil-may-care. Are you ready to fight for your man when he's not even your man?

You May Face Sky-High Settlement Risks
Let's say you and your soon-to-be-ex-wife live in California and haven't seen each other in a year. Then you start having sex and going out on the occasional date.

Now, to complicate things a bit, let's say you have just come into big money. If your wife is smart, she'll argue the separation has never taken place. This may greatly affect the settlement, and your piece of mind, says San Francisco divorce lawyer Larry Wilson.

Sex Can Be a Dangerous Game
You may see yourself as in control and nobody's fool. But things can get nasty when sex is in the picture and emotions are torn and complex. There is a creepy side to this sex-with-your-ex business, according to Berndt, who says sex is a power weapon wielded by men and women.

Sex with your ex may start off carefree, but things can change. Some couples, perhaps more than we imagine, work sex into the divorce equation after separation but before divorce.

For example: "You let me have sex with you whenever I want and you can have Bobby seven nights a week."

"I won't baby sit unless you make driving all this way worth my while."

"We may be divorced, but no one is going to sleep with you but me."

In the end, sex after marriage is no different than sex before marriage: You are always, to some extent, playing with fire. You do have one advantage you may not have with ordinary dating, you know the person you are dealing with.


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