Some scientists looked into the thing you were considering but also totally weren’t considering.
Congratulations to those searching for some shred of validation to justify doing the thing all of their friends told them not to do, for the search is over: A recent study found that sleeping with an ex doesn’t necessarily “hinder breakup recovery,” so add THAT to your Powerpoint presentation of why it’s ~totally chill~ for you to keep doing what you’re doing.
The study is published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior under the very appropriate title, “Pursuing Sex with an Ex: Does It Hinder Breakup Recover?” To find out, researchers from Wayne State University in Michigan and Western University in Canada conducted two separate studies: One that followed 113 people as they attempted to hook up with recent ex’s over the course of a month, and another that surveyed an additional 459 people about how successful attempts to have sex with an ex affected their emotional status.
The results of the first study are unsurprising. “Those who pursued sex with an ex throughout the study reported feeling more attached to their ex-partners than participants who had not pursued sex,” study authors write. But! That didn’t necessarily translate to starting over from square one on the heartbreak recovery board. Researchers asked participants about their emotional states in the days following attempted ex-sex, and didn’t find a significant difference compared to those who stayed in their lane, and didn’t try hooking up with their ex.
The second study’s findings are similar. Researchers checked in with participants as late as two months after the breakup—versus the one month in the first study—and again found that having sex with an ex didn’t fuck up someone’s ability to move on. The second study also found that most attempts at having sex with an ex are successful, seeming to suggest that, despite their better judgment, exes stay horny for each other in somewhat equal measure.
“This research suggests that societal handwringing regarding trying to have sex with an ex may not be warranted,” study author Stephanie Spielmann said in a press release. “The fact that sex with an ex is found to be most eagerly pursued by those having difficulty moving on suggests that we should instead more critically evaluate people’s motivations behind pursuing sex with an ex.”
So, basically, having sex with an ex won’t ruin your life! But also the desire to hook up with an ex is dubious and probably means you aren’t quite ready to move on. Is that new information? No. But now psychologists have written about your questionable decisions in an academic journal, and that’s way more legitimate than you swearing in the group text that you’re “fine lol!”