If you’re starting to feel the impending pangs of being alone during the holiday season, 1) you’re certainly not alone and 2) science says having a fling with your ex might not be the worst decision you’ve ever made.
Despite conventional wisdom that tries to convince us that having sex with an ex will only lead to heartache, new research finds it doesn’t do any harm, at least where “moving on” is concerned, according to a study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior. This is true even for those who continue to pine for their ex, says lead author Stephanie Spielmann of Wayne State University.
After studying nearly 500 participants, researchers found that “pursuing sex with an ex did not seem to stand in the way of people’s subsequent recovery from a breakup on a daily basis or over the course of two months.”
Most participants who pursued sex did end up in bed with their ex, but this did not influence how someone managed to get over the end of their relationship. Those pining after their ex-partner more often sought out sexual activity, potentially as a way of fostering closeness and connection.
However, reveals the study, this didn’t leave them distressed or feeling depressed. In fact, it left them feeling more positive in everyday life.
Says Spielmann, “This research suggests that societal handwringing regarding trying to have sex with an ex may not be warranted. The fact that sex with an ex is found to be most eagerly pursued by those having difficulty moving on, suggests that we should perhaps instead more critically evaluate people’s motivations behind pursuing sex with an ex.”
Spielmann says the findings highlight the various ways people get over a breakup and believes it’s an important subject to research because of the consequences it could have on someone’s mental health, how distressed they remain, and whether they are able to move on.