Widgets Magazine

Sex Talk with the Tree: Ex Sex

I had just finished an episode of that show we used to watch together as we cuddled to go to sleep. I remembered the warmth of his body against mine, the laughs that we shared. I found myself automatically picking up my phone and begin a text to him. My ex.

The rest was like a fast-forwarded scene from a movie where some cheesy Smiths song narrates in the background. On the way to his house, I knew I was taking a step backwards. I could feel my conscience rolling her eyes at me. My mind told me I shouldn’t see him, but before I knew it I was laying in bed with him.

Why do we torture ourselves post breakup?

Dialogue often focuses on physical sex and sexual health, but how do emotions play into the health of our relationships or sexual encounters?

It always seems to go the same way. Break up, fight, attack each other with some hurtful, personal remarks, maybe hook up with someone else. And then, perhaps you have a little too much wine, or you sit in your room a little too long alone and make the text. The text to your ex … for sex.

When you broke up with your partner the first time, it seemed like a great idea. You knew all the things you didn’t like about him or her … shoot, you may have even made a list to remind yourself why you ended the relationship.

You know that your relationship issues won’t work themselves out overnight, yet the moment you see them again on this surprisingly small campus, with that familiar smile, your stomach sinks. How do all those feelings that seemed to disappear come back in an instant?

So why do we do it? Why do we let ourselves go back for more? Sex is often about fantasy. The fantasy in ex-sex can be realized because in that moment it is as if time stands still and there are no problems in the relationship. It is just about you and your partner. It reminds you of a better time when things were ok and working out. Maybe it takes away feelings of loneliness, maybe it gives you hope that the relationship might work out or maybe it’s just mind-blowing. And the sex … well let’s be real, they know your body. And they are probably trying to win you back by giving you the best they have.

It is difficult enough to remain friends after a breakup; adding sex into the mix just complicates things even more. Whether we want to admit it or not, sex with an ex brings back feelings, emotions and a sense of intimacy that can truly cause mixed emotions towards your ex. Sex can be an act that solidifies a sense of attachment; having sex with an ex can hinder your healing process at a crucial post-breakup time.

One part of you feels like this reconnection might make you two fall back into love, and the other part of you knows that you broke up for a reason. Most likely, this reason cannot be fixed with great sex. Unfortunately.

This is not to say that sex with an ex can’t work. Perhaps you’re lucky and the break was mutual, and now you’re just looking for something casual. Sex with an ex can work if enough time has passed, both people are clearly over each other emotionally and there are clear expectations that it is purely physical. It sounds ideal (if they were good in bed); they know what turns you on and how to please you. Unlike that 3 a.m. tearful drunken text fueled by emotions, a conscious determination to have casual sex can be fun and healthy.

Aside from the emotional tug of war that sex with an ex causes, though, it can also be physically risky. While you were dating, perhaps you were on birth control and didn’t always use a condom, but you knew your partner was clean and trusted that he or she wasn’t sneaking around with other people behind your back.

After a breakup, however, as much as it turns our stomachs to imagine our former lover with another person, it is possible that they have been intimate with other people. As my eccentric aunt used to say, the best way to get over someone is to get under someone else (maybe not the best advice). If you are going to get freaky with your ex again, be sure to protect yourself physically as well. Use a barrier method like a condom.

Just remember, if you wanted to move on and find somebody new, make sure that you are making time to do just that. If you have no intention of getting back with your ex, but you spend a lot of time between the sheets (or outside, or in a shower, wherever you like to do it), just remember that this is time taken away from meeting new people.


Editor’s note: This story was written by the student who is currently the “Tree” of the Stanford Band. The views expressed here do not reflect those of the Stanford Athletic Department, Stanford University or the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band. They are the opinions of an undergraduate student who requested some anonymity but allowed The Daily to identify her as a significant campus figure.


  • this is great. I really like the narrative you got going on in the first two paragraphs. And I think the point about the missed opportunities of hooking up with an ex (i.e. time that could’ve been spent meeting new people) is a common struggle. I really admire you for being so candid. build-wise: I wish the narrative was longer and included a lengthier story about you or somebody you knew, what they struggled with while detailing how they moved through it (or why that hasn’t happened yet). per this story, I was interested in how you were feeling after you hooked up, and how we let ourselves retroactively rationalize these actions or (maybe in other cases) hastily try to forget them. I think people would be interested in practical tips that can help them in the moments when mindfulness and self-control are in short-supply. can’t wait to see future writings!! I lurve you!!

  • francisca

    really relatable story, and particularly salient on a campus where stress and lack of time can often lead to 1. never really dealing with a break up, and 2. looking for something that is easy and familiar to fall back into. thanks for sharing!!