When we break up with our ex husband or ex wife, it as if the whole world turns upside down.  The pain and turmoil can affect us in way that we can never imagine.

Days and weeks can go by as we second guess whether we did the right thing. Often, it seldom matters whether you initiated the break up or was the one that got dumped by your ex husband or ex wife.  But then, seemingly, out of nowhere, something happens which puts the two of you together and these confusing feelings of sexual attraction can come over you.  Suddenly, you are in a place where you wonder if you should sleep with your spouse.  In such a situation you may be thinking whether you should act on your  desire to climb into bed with your ex and just let loose.

Sleeping with your ex husband

Why Do You Want to Make Love With Your Ex?

Sometimes the feelings you are experiencing toward your ex husband or ex wife comes from a need to feel attractive again.  Sometimes it is a function of feeling lonely and the notion dancing through your mind is that sex will help quench that empty feeling.

Sometimes it is just two souls coming together, lost in their relationship, but joined together for those moments, hoping for a reprieve from their sorrows.

You can’t blame yourself if you are only trying to put your marriage back together again.  So is it right to sleep with your ex in order to make progress in putting your relationship back in order?  I talked about this in the following post….


The desire to sleep with your ex can be the two of you acting out on your subconscious desire to build a bridge for the two of you to cross, facilitating an opportunity to forgive each other and work on rebuilding your marriage.

The question we have facing us today is whether having sex or putting it more euphemistically, sleeping with our ex, is really a good idea.  Are you ready for the answer?  Hold on now, not so fast.  To get to what might be best for you if you should ever find yourself in such a situation, we need to understand some of the physical drivers that cause ex husbands and wives to temporarily set aside their past problems and anger to get it on.

We have touched on some of the emotional reasons that can drive ex couples to sleep with each again.  Sometimes it happens only once.  Just that one occasion of weakness or confusion or moments of blissful release, however you wish to describe it, could amount to the classical “one and done”.

Sometimes you find yourself sleeping with your ex a few times or even on multiple occasions. What you are probably thinking is irrespective of how many times you and your ex  made love after the breakup, what does it really mean? It will be useful to understand your actions if we peel back  the typical  causes of why people end up having sex  with the very person they probably were swearing off days or even hours before.

is it bad to sleep with my ex

Is Sleeping With Your Ex a Bad Thing?

It is a tangled web of emotions and physical needs that sometimes cause us to do things that are not healthy for us in the long run.  Now, before you jump to conclusions and  think that I am suggesting that having sex with your ex husband or ex wife is always going to lead you down the wrong path…just slow down a bit.

I am not quite there yet.  In fact, I don’t think I would ever agree with the notion that sex with an ex is necessarily always a bad or destructive thing to participate in.

I discuss this along with other salient points in this post….


In a few cases, it could be just what the love doctor ordered.  Then again, it could be something that you regret for a very long time.  You see, making love with your ex spouse, whether it is during that period right after the breakup or during an extended separation or even after divorce, is not necessarily a type of thing that we should berate ourselves for doing.  Go easy on yourself if sex with an ex becomes a reality in your life.  It is not necessarily the worst of things and it could even be a bridge to a better relationship in the future.  Ok….now don’t get too excited with my last statement.  While it is true that I have seen couples mend some very broken fences as a result of having sex after the break up, it is not usually the norm.  More often than not, it takes a lot more than sex to right the ship.

So don’t allow yourself to usher in notions that all will be well.  Sex with your ex is not a cause for celebration. Climbing into bed with your ex husband or ex wife is not one of those things that we can be certain will lead to more or less dysfunction.  It will not necessarily be the cure of your marital problems.  Then again, having sex with an ex spouse is likely not going to blow the whole relationship out of the water.  I just want you to get calibrated to the idea that we are dealing with a topic for which there are many shades of outcomes.

should I sleep with my ex husband

So which is it?  Is making love with your ex a good or bad thing?

You see, it can be all of those things, none of those things, or just some of those things.  Such are the complexities of each and every relationship.  We cannot take a subject such as this and set a template on top of it and announce to the world that “sex with ex is amazing” or “making love with your ex is the worse thing you can do” .

Well, actually, I suppose technically anyone could make such proclamations.  Indeed, people do so all the time.  Everybody it seems has an opinion on the subject.

But in my opinion, it would not be true to make such a blanket statement and hold that it is true of all ex couples.  Every couple that I encounter who engage in sex after the break up have their own unique set of circumstances that they are dealing with, both as a couple and individually.

When we take into account the complexities surrounding our emotional behaviors and needs and couple those with our physical needs and then throw in a bit of chaos and sprinkle in some irrational thinking, then shake it all up with momentary thoughts of a re budding romance, you get sex with an ex in all forms.

why do we crave sleeping with our ex

What Drives Us to Want To Sleep With Our Ex?

Let’s talk about the physiological drives that can arouse us want to have sex with our ex.  Bear in mind this can be a rather technical discussion.  The way our body and mind works from all of its attendant nerve cells found throughout our body to the most important organ in our body…namely our brain……these things work together like a well honed orchestra.  Specifically, pheromones and oxytocin (a neurotransmitter) plays a big role for what is happening in the events leading up to having sex with your ex.  What happens between the sheets with you and your ex it turns out is not just something we logically and rationally decide to do.  Our desire to make love with another, even our ex, is a function of many variables.

Now, let’s not forget the way our emotional needs can dial us up to participate in the very thing we may have said to ourselves that we would never do.  One day you are cursing under your breath every thought that may come to mind about your ex husband  or wife.  Then before you can even realize what is completely happening, you and your ex are having the sex of your lives.

We have to ask ourselves, what on earth is happening in our noggin that makes us behave that way and why can the sex we engage in with our ex husband or ex wife be so tempting, fulfilling, exciting and even erotic.

Let me tell you about the effects of oxytocin.

In laymen’s terms, it is probably best described as the cuddle hormone.  Any number of things can trigger it.  Physical exercise, certain foods, a certain touch, and hugging can all help bring it on.  And when it does, that chemical can trigger the love juices that ex’s are often craving.

Really, you might ask.  How can I go from practically despising my ex husband or wife, and then suddenly some little natural chemical released in my brain  causes me to forget all of the troubles and heartache they have caused me?

You might be thinking how on earth could I be so weak or stupid to do such a thing.  If you are reading this article, you actually might be posing this question in the past tense.  You might be wondering what possessed you to jump into bed with they guy or gal that you know…deep inside….has been nothing but trouble and will likely continue to be the mistake of your life!

Why Do Ex Couples Sleep With Each Other

The Real Story Behind Why Couples Sleep Together

Well think of it this way.  When you go through a separation or break up with your ex husband or wife, your body and mind are entering into a kind of anxiety zone.  But that might not be the only thing going on with you emotionally and physically.  Your break up pain zone may also include stomach aches, head aches, loneliness, depression, and fatigue.

Your blood pressure may be elevated, you may be suffering from not just the pain you feel deep in your gut, but actual physical pain due to your heartbreak. Oxytocin is the body’s natural way of combating some of these various emotional mood and physiological states.  Think of it as the body’s fireman that is on hand to help you put out the pain or at least diminish it.

It is hard for your mind to forget all the times you and your ex engaged in sex.  It is in there, deeply embedded in your psyche.  Also,  deep in your brain, you have memories of  your ex husband or wife helping you feel safe or protected or confident.

You mind can play tricks on you.  It is not always a fair arbitrator between fantasy and reality.   You may end up focusing more on memories of all the good times when you were with your ex.  You might spend a bit too much time conjuring up romantic notions of the past in which the two of you brought each other peace and love.

You might be tempted by these images of when the relationship was experiencing the good times and fooled into diminishing the gravity of the present problems; thinking that just perhaps he or she deserves a second chance.  Sometimes we can think that way for a few moments, minutes, hours, or even days.  Hence, you can see how it can be tempting to ease off of what your rationale  and logical mind is telling you and become swayed by the emotional side.  You know what I mean?  It is like what I have preached before…..when emotions run high, logic runs low!

And  since you have memories of so many wonderful times you enjoyed each other sexually, something has to give.  And when oxytocin is on the loose, it is not too surprising to me that an ex couple find themselves in each others arms.

Oxytocin is that magical lustful hormone that finds its way into your bloodstream and consequently helps you with eliminating some of your pain and anxiety, replacing it with those most wonderful serene feelings of contentment and bliss, however fleeting those feelings may be.

And it will come to pass that there will be a time that your ex will stand before you when you might be in a vulnerable state.  They may reach out with a few kind words and a touch.  You unconsiously smell them (this is where phereomones, secreted in sweat, begin playing a role in attraction) and before you know it you are removing each other’s clothes and enjoying each other’s body like you have done many times before.

Yep, it is true.  Sometimes we humans are on automatic pilot.  There is like this little unconscious “you” who is inside you.  It is guiding you to think and do things that the conscious “you” is not fully aware of until that moment of vulnerability unfolds.

So when a little quiet moment arrives between you and your ex and the the subconscious you becomes  excited by the presence of pheromones and the subtle intimate touch from your ex, events can quickly conspire against you and override your thoughts of anger and resentment toward your ex.

So when you lay it all out in this way, understanding the physiological and emotional drivers that can lead you to sleep with your ex, it is understandable that the question of sex with an ex spouse comes up so often.

Later, after the act, it is not unusual to feel guilty.  It is not that you did anything particularly wrong. It is that the flood of sexual thoughts that dominated your mind are slowly being replaced with more pragmatic  and rationale thoughts of “do I really want this man (or woman) in my life right now“.

Or when its all over you may be thinking or even say, “this was a big mistake“. Regret or guilt may sweep over you like a wet blanket.  You may question your sanity and berate yourself for being weak or foolish.

don't be so hard on yourself if you sleep with your ex husband

Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself if You Sleep With Your Ex

So what do I have to say about that?  My response is, “give yourself a break!  Look, you are just human.  As I explained, your emotional and physiological needs sometimes trump  that very logical and rationale side of your brain that is telling you that it is too soon or premature or completely the wrong thing for the two of you to do.

So try not to beat yourself up.  Did you make things worse by having sex with your ex husband or making love with your ex wife?  Probably not.  It happened.  And while one part of you may feel bad about it, another part of you benefited from it.  I like to take “the glass is half full” attitude when it comes to these things.  If some oxytocin can get released and help you navigate through the painful recovery of a break up, even for a brief encounter, then take the pleasure you gained from the experience and move forward.

Now, I am not suggesting you should seek out a sexual encounter with your ex to relieve yourself of anxiety and pain, replacing those feelings with the warm fuzzies.

Where you can encounter problems is if find yourself in a mode of repeating (frequently) the sexual encounter you had with your ex spouse.  That can lead to unhealthy behaviors.

Another problem is if you fool yourself into thinking that having sex with your ex is a replacement for solving the serious problems that caused the break up in the first place.  Now, if you are a healthy functionally interacting couple and have a fight, followed by the act of lovemaking…in such cases, yes, sex can help you mend the fence.

But if you are separated or divorced and the break up is serious, then using sex to try and fill in the empty places in your relationship caused by serious problems is not a long term solution.  You will just grow to resent your partner more and more after each love making session when you realize your ex is not changing and that the issues that caused the break up, still exist.

There is something to be said about remaining unavailable to your ex, particularly if you are looking to reconcile.  Once you let them in, just for sex, without them making a long term commitment, you are likely fighting a losing battle.

when you should go for it with your ex

Occasional Encounters With Your Ex

I had a client once and she told me that she and her ex husband once would have occasional sexual encounters.  She said that went on for a couple of years.  It unfolded in a way that it evolved into a  kind of “friends with benefits” type of situation.  This is not for everyone, to say the least. You need to be strong of mind and spirit and know exactly what you want.

She told me that she thought they both gained something from the experience. They had been married for 15 years and for large parts of the marriage, they were happy.  So there was some foundation and past stability to their marriage that they could look back on with some fondness.

She believed their previous posititve marital history helped them keep things from getting too ugly.  And while it is a long story, when they did finally separate and eventually got divorced, they both went through a series of emotional ups and downs.  Neither of them held down a serious relationship with another person in the first year or two following the break up.  Since they had enjoyed a relatively healthy sex life when married, it was natural for each of them to think back to those encounters in the quiet moments.

She explained that the whole experience of sex with her ex husband felt completely natural and that she felt driven by a powerful force to quench her needs.  She said that while part of her knew that she did not want to revisit the relationship, another part of her wanted, almost needed, the physical and emotional connection that sleeping with her husband gave her.

What seemed to make this work in her case was that her husband was largely of the same mind.  Neither pretended that they were seeking to get the love train back on the track.

There was a certain pragmatism in the air and so occasionally, without it feeling forced, these two former love birds would find themselves in each other’s arms. In their minds and probably in truth, they both benefited more from this arrangement, than the issues that occasionally reared up.

For example, once after a particularly lively sexual encounter, they were both swept over by the romance and excitement of the event and got swept up in a discussion about nullifying the divorce and getting back together.

But after a day or two, they came back down to earth and acknowledged to themselves and each other, that it would not be best…that they were better off with the decision to live apart and remain close friends or whatever one wishes to call this type of relationship.   This went on for almost two years until my client met someone and decided it was time to commit herself exclusively to this individual.

For this couple, sleeping with each other after the breakup worked.  But quite frankly, I have counselled a lot of couples and what I have come to conclude is that this couple is probably the exception.

They were mature and realistic with each other and while they were both convinced that their decision to separate (divorce) was the right decision, they had enough good years between them that they were able to handle the confusion and uncertainty sometimes brought on by sleeping with an ex.

So, what is the answer for you and your situation?

Frankly, no one can say with certainty that sleeping with your ex husband or ex wife will be the worst mistake of your life or even a “bad” thing for you as your try to carve out a new path.

We are far to complex as human beings and our relationships are far to complicated for some outsider to pass judgement on you for what you did  or what you were thinking of doing with your ex.

No one has a corner on the wisdom of whether or not you should engage in sex with your ex marriage partner.  As a rule, I would say it is usually not a good idea. But I also feel that more often not, it is not something that is going to be a net negative, particularly if it only happened once.

It helps to understand why it sometimes happens and what causes an ex couple to engage in sex after the break up.  Just know that, in the long run, this type of behavior, as natural as it may feel, it likely not going to lead to any lasting solutions to the very problems that brought the relationship to an end.

To solve those problems, you need to operate from the left side of your brain…the thinking and rationale side.

How likely is your marriage to succeed?

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