Exes With Benefits: A Cautionary Tale


Published: October 25, 2007

It is a disheartening truth of life that the one we love the most will inevitably hurt us more than anyone else. You might ask, “What can possibly be more painful than the actual break up?” Being sexually intimate with an ex can be just as damaging. The concept of being “exes with benefits” can have disastrous consequences and is perhaps the most ill-advised idea if you care for the happiness and psychological health of your ex as well as your own. Sexual intimacy with an ex after the break-up can ruin any trust and amity that might still be remaining between you and your former love. I regrettably had to learn this lesson in my own life by experiencing the hurt and emotional manipulation involved when allowing sexual relations to continue with an ex. Having a sexual relationship with an ex is a bad idea and often is a misguided attempt at trying to grasp on to some sense of intimacy or love that is no longer there.

Sex is an amazing thing. It is the act in which we are most connected to another human being, yet it can also be utterly dehumanizing. Sex is a powerful weapon. It doesn’t matter whether the break-up was mutual or whether you decided to walk away from the relationship (or if you’re the one left standing), sex will bring drama into the situation. Before deciding to become “exes with benefits,” you have to ask yourself, “Do I still love this person, and do they still love me?” If the answer is anything but “no” then it’s best to back out of the situation. It is much easier to continue having sexual relations with an ex-lover you dated for just a few months than with someone you were with a few years.

I made the huge mistake of keeping a sexual relationship with my ex for three months after I had been dumped. I say the word “dumped” because when you’re in another state visiting your father who is in the hospital and you get a phone call around midnight in which the caller says, “I just can’t do this anymore,” you can be sure you have been “dumped.” The situation was made even worse by the fact that we lived together. Another great thing to keep in mind is: if you and your ex live together, don’t let the idea of still having sex even cross your mind. I didn’t get that memo. I suppose that I was trying to see if the sex could reconcile the relationship.

The thing is, if your ex breaks up with you, he or she were obviously thinking about breaking up for a while. If towards the end of your relationship, you were still having plenty of sex, then a logical conclusion to come to is that they had no problem having sex with you while still having thoughts of wanting to leave you. Imagine continuing sexual relations with this person after the break-up while their personal habits begin to change and they socially start to make the transition from being your significant other to being your “friend.”

Separating the idea of being together and just being friends with an ex is very difficult when you are still being sexually intimate, and this is what can lead to drama. In a relationship you can ask, “where are you going?” or “what time are you going to be home?” When you’re having sex with an ex, the lines blur between what you have and don’t have a right to ask anymore. If people aren’t aware of the entire “exes with benefits” situation, from the outside you might come across as a “psycho bitch” who just needs to “get over it.” A deeper look into the reality of the situation would show a person who was undergoing a confusing transition. Thus, social drama ensues due to misunderstanding regarding the perplexity of the situation.

I never wanted to cut my ex out of my life, but it was for my own benefit to walk away from a situation that was only causing me misery. There comes a point when you have to realize your value as a person. “Exes with benefits” is a horrible situation that leaves you asking many inner questions about self-worth, what the truth is and what is just a comforting lie. In the end, I’m remorseful that my ex and I used each other for sexual gratification. It takes two to tango and I’m just as accountable as my ex for making the situation more complicated than necessary.