What I Learned From Sleeping With My Ex

Words: Rae Witte. Illustration: Sam Liacos.

Let Drake tell it, we could all become wildly successful from wreaking emotional terrorism on each and every one of our exes while vulnerably documenting it.

Unfortunately, despite all our love for the boy, in no way shape or form is this even a tiny bit remotely healthy for you, your ex, or your pockets, because truthfully, the majority of us can’t perpetually benefit from eternally repeating the same mistake.

Every relationship is different, as is every break up. Therefore there is not a one-size-fits-all lesson in doubling back on an old lover, nor is there a black and white, simple yes or no answer whether or not you should or shouldn’t go back.

It seems some individuals operate on a one shot sort-of basis, meaning they firmly believe once the relationship is over, there’s no reason to go back. “Never sleep with an ex. It’s never as good as you remember it being when you were together! It’s always been an epic fail for me. It’s better to keep awesome memories and move on,” Barbara Torasso, 36, shares.

Majority of us can’t perpetually benefit from eternally repeating the same mistake.

Rae Witte

There is an undeniable allure and familiarity in rekindling something that once was good, if not great, and give it another go. Elizabeth Maulhardt recalls a time she broke a rule of hers of getting back with an ex. “We had been broken up for about five years. No one was mad about anything anymore (or so I thought), so the whole thing seemed harmless,” she says. She confirmed that it is clear getting back with an ex in any capacity is not her thing. “Things started taking a turn when he would make comments during sex like: this is all mine,’ ‘I knew you missed this,’ and ‘I had been waiting to get back together with you.’ Excuse me? That [last] one ruined the mood for me. I started to pull away because I could see where this was going.”

While she looks at it as slipping up, she’s back to having zero interest in revisiting an old relationship. “I have never once in my life slept with an ex. I always claimed that when I was done with something I was done, and this proved to me that it was something I would never do again. NO MATTER WHAT,” she explained.

Never sleep with an ex. It’s never as good as you remember it being when you were together.

Barbara Torasso

Meanwhile, Ethan Duval* recalls a time that he went back to an ex that felt like there was something unfinished about the relationship. “We met one summer in Barcelona and then kept in contact and flew to each other’s cities roughly every three to four months. It worked out for me mainly because of the career I had, being a light designer for a touring performer made it easy to get to me in the U.K. It’s weird because since we broke up we went through many periods of not speaking to each other, initiated by either of us at one time or the other. In hindsight, we kind of left off at a honeymoon phase and never had a chance of a long, face-to-face relationship. I think we still missed and cared for each other to a degree. I’m not typically a person who would ever see getting back with an ex appealing. I’m very much of the mind of moving forward, but I do remember then and there diving off the high board.” [Laughs.]

The reasons we go back differ. Where some may look to nostalgia, second chances, or lust, others fall to naivety of a young heart. Maya Abraham, 24, shares, “He initiated the return because he wanted closure and I felt I owed him that, at the time. Looking back, I definitely didn’t owe him shit. I ended it because it was what was best for me, and it’s as simple as that. If I could take that last encounter back, I would. He truly ain’t shit and he’s now blocked from contacting me.”

However, Abraham recognizes this isn’t a blanket course of action for all exes. “I’ve considered going back to a few of my exes, and I have tread the line of messing around intimately or flirting salaciously with my exes. In the end though, it’s not cool to fuck with someone’s head with the back-and-forth, plus it’s a waste of time when you both could be out with someone new. Now at 24, I embrace new, uncharted territory. I make sure my intentions, and theirs, are clear, and that we both know where we’d like to go,” Abraham says.

I know I don’t want to be with this person now, but who’s to say it won’t work out later.

Jacolyn Carrasco

Similarly, 25-year-old Jacolyn Carrasco remembers going back to an ex strictly for sex, but it didn’t come without heartbreak. “I remember being so broken when this person and I broke up. He wasn’t very appreciative of me during our relationship, so I broke up with him. Now the tables have turned and I’m strictly in it for sex,” she says. “He definitely wants to get back together. It’s crazy to think how sad I was about this person. The smartest advice someone gave me was,  ‘Just because it doesn’t work out right now doesn’t mean it won’t later.’ I know I don’t want to be with this person now, but who’s to say it won’t work out later. This relationship helped me realize that a lot. There’s nothing wrong with fucking your exes.”

The hurt, the distrust, the toxicity the relationship left behind can be too much despite thinking we really want to be with this person.

Rae Witte

Mikelle Street, 27, feels similarly, but after sleeping with an ex he recognizes his boundaries. “I have learned that I can separate emotion from sex, and you need to know that about yourself before you go back. If you cannot or are in a place with ant ex where you can’t separate one from the other, you can’t do it.” He remembers a time someone he used to date said he didn’t want to go without the physical aspect of their relationship. Neither did Street. “We started having sex again and he started doing things like bringing over sushi or wanting to spend the night or he’d want to take a bath. He wanted to go to the movies, and I was like ‘Uh, no. Nope. You need to choose.’ I can’t have him treating me like a boyfriend. You’re not taking me on dates. You’re not gonna cuddle me. I know that when you start treating me like that again, I’m going to have emotions.”

And sometimes, probably more times than we’d like to admit, we go back and simply can’t handle it. The hurt, the distrust, the toxicity the relationship left behind can be too much despite thinking we really want to be with this person. “I initiated the return,” Carlos Reyes* shares, although his ex broke it off the first time and “like 10 other times.” He remembers that “it ended because she said I was crazy and aggressive with trust issues.” Reyes seems to have learned about himself in hindsight, but admits it isn’t enough to fully change his ways. “Out of all my exes, I liked this one, and I was aggressive with all [of them]. I would definitely get back with her even though we’re not good for eachother. I learned that I was never gonna change.”

You have to take responsibility for the consequences that may come with sleeping with an ex, because let’s not forget…you’ve been here before.

Rae Witte

Not all break-ups are bad, and not all relationships are irreparable. This doesn’t mean you should have sex, but it also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Some of us know better and yet even go as far as to advise friends not to go back to their trifling ex, knowing damn well if a certain someone hit us with an apology, a phone call, a late night “wyd,” hell, even a triggering Instagram like, we’re definitely down. (“Call me crazy, but at least you call me,” Drake sings in the distance).

At the end of the day, you have to be honest with yourself and your ex. You have to take responsibility for the consequences the may come with sleeping with an ex, because let’s not forget…you’ve been here before.

*Names have been changed.