Sex and desire, just like alcohol, got us in all kind of trouble in the past. Being one of the most powerful driving forces in humans, the sexual desire clouds our thinking and gets us into the most ridiculous of situations at times. Talking to my colleagues in Beverly Hills and Valencia areas, who specialize in marriage counseling and couples counseling, I hear numerous stories of couples showing up for couples counseling due to a moment of indiscretion fueled by these two culprits.
Since all of us have made sex-choices that now, looking back, seem to be questionable at best, let me put on my psychologist and psychotherapist hat and say: The past is a good teacher only if the future is a good student. Sex with the ex-partner has been a pop-culture topic for some time. Comedies as well as tragedies have been written about it, and the reason is quite obvious: it is emotionally charged and potentially disastrous issue. However, as the psychotherapy chronicles reveal, sex with the ex might also be fun, or even lead to the “happily ever after.”
So when you are considering sex with your ex, how can you foresee the end-result? Of course, you can always deal with a poor decision later in psychotherapy, however, wouldn’t it be better to avoid the unnecessary mistake? When my clients in Beverly Hills and Valencia bring up the issue of relationships and intimacy, sometimes the issue of ex-partners comes up. The question is usually how we can know whether to sex the ex. Will the cost of these moments of pleasure be worth paying?
Here is a cheat-sheet to help you weigh the pros and cons. There is one caveat: You got to be 100% totally and brutally honest with yourself! Do not try to rationalize and wiggle your way out of a question. After all – isn’t it the truth you are after? If you are unsure in your ability to be totally honest with yourself, get help of a good friend that knows you well, and perhaps even familiar with your ex. Ask your friend to keep you on track as you answer the questions below, and to remind you of the things in your past relationships that you might have conveniently forgotten.
So here it is, designed by the Beverly Hills and Valencia Couples Counseling and Marriage Counseling:
Sex with the Ex: The Decision Tree
1. Are you interested in a casual sex with your ex, or do you hope to re-establish your past intimate relationships with him or her?
1a – Just sex.
Let me take off my psychologist and psychotherapist hat and be very frank with you: this is pretty desperate and rather unwise. Psychotherapy advice 101 – Get a grip. There are plenty of potential sex-partners to choose from, and stepping back into the arena of past unsuccessful relationship just to get off is a bad sex-choice due to the potential emotional drama ready to unfold. Your ex-partner might have a very different intention for having sex with you, and not only do you potentially create emotional hurt for your partner and yourself, you also rob yourself from new experiences and possibilities that a new sex-partner could offer. Bottom line – find someone else, or get off solo first, and then re-think this while clearheaded.
1b – I want him/her back.
If you are interested in re-establishing the relationship with your ex-partner, this is something to be weighed carefully. Sometimes couples come to my Beverly Hills and Valencia marriage counseling clinics with one of the partners expressing strong desire of rebuilding love and connection. The question in this case is always the same – is this desire mutual. This leads us to the next question.
2. Based on the past experiences with your ex, can you have the relationship that you want with him/her?
2a – No
If based on your past experiences it is unlikely for you to be able to have the relationship that you want and share that connection with your ex, save yourself the heartache and find yourself either a different sex-partner or a date. Sex with your ex is likely to stir up all of the old emotions and will possibly even get you what you think you want – getting back together with your ex. However, if this relationship is likely to work out poorly, just like it did the first time, save your energy and time and put it to use somewhere with greater potential for success and wellbeing. Of course, in case the desire to reconnect is mutual, couples counseling is always a viable option. Couples counseling might bring the balance and intimacy into the relationship with your ex and get both of you to the “happily ever after.”
2b – Yes – I can have the relationship I want with my ex!
In case your ex is the person you want to be with, and you believe that two of you together can create the relationship you want, there is something to think about, and this something would be the desires of the other person in the equation – your ex.
3. Is your ex, to the best of your knowledge and perceptive ability, available for and interested in this kind of relationship with you?
3a – No – My ex is unavailable or disinterested in a relationship with me.
Run! Although you are interested in your ex, having sex will only create additional pain for you, and possibly for your ex. Give yourself some time, take responsibility for the end of your prior relationships, examine your role in having it fail, learn from your conclusions, and move forward with open and aware mind, as well as healed and whole heart. In case you still carry hurt in your heart, seek help of a psychologist or psychotherapist to resolve it. Unless resolved, baggage from past relationships will create more of the same in the new ones. Consider yourself warned.
3b – Yes – I think my ex would want to reconnect and be with me.
Excellent! If both of you still share the connection and love for each other, and want to be together, this might actually work. Here is one piece of advice. Keep your pants/skirt on for now, if you can. In case you are truly interested in a relationship with you ex start with a coffee, date, get-together, movie, anything that would give you time to be around each other.
Re-ignite these feelings that were there in the first place. Feel, listen, and watch your ex-lover for clues regarding their feeling and connection with you. At the right moment, when the connection between you is strong, let him or her know about your desire to be with them. Use your knowledge of them and decide whether direct and blunt communication or gentle indirect one would have the best results, and go from there.
In case it is too late and the clothes are already coming off, but you both seem to be interested in reconnecting and giving yourselves a second chance with each other, go for it. The risk is worth it. Just make sure to take time and discuss the things that doomed you prior relationship, so this time around you are wiser and more aware.
To bottom-line it for all of us who like to jump right to the very end of the book and read how it ends:
My advice as a psychologist and psychotherapist is: Do not have sex with your ex unless you want to reconnect and the desire is mutual. Only have sex with your ex if you want your ex back and to the best of your knowledge your ex shares this desire with you.
There are no cut-and-dry rules in love and sex. Marriage counseling experts, psychotherapists and psychologists know this very well. We all are students of love, and sometimes taking risks and doing the wrong thing proves to be the greatest learning we’ve gotten. In the past I have broken all the rules only to find myself in a happy, healthy, loving relationship. The only purpose of the Decision Tree is to help you think with your head and heart. Wishes of prosperous, loving, and joyful relationships to all,
Dr. Harel Papikian
9300 Wilshire Blvd. #306
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
25350 Magic Mountain Parkway #170
Valencia, CA 91355