Most of us will have at least one ex. We may even have to see them from time to time, perhaps because of children, work or a shared social circle. At times it might be painful, awkward or embarrassing, especially at first. But hopefully we gradually heal and come to terms with what's happened, perhaps even becoming a little cynical or worldly-wise as a consequence.
But what happens when, once all the acrimony has faded, and we're feeling relaxed and more at ease in their company, have perhaps not been sexually active for a while, that we start to look at them in a more favourable light and think, 'why not?'
How enticing might it be after a tough breakup, followed by a long period alone nursing your wounds, feeling increasingly unattractive that you meet up to discuss 'something important' only to find yourself vaguely attracted to him or her. A glass or two of wine later and there you are in bed together.
After all, we know them so well and they know us. We're familiar with each others' likes and dislikes, don't need to make an effort, are both consenting adults with needs, wants and are desirous of a little sexual attention. There's no confusion; it's uncomplicated. But is it?
If you've not been intimate for a while you may be missing closeness and sex, but is sex with your ex merely a temporary fix, holding you back from making the effort to move on? Whilst that may be fine as a convenient, 'safe' arrangement what appears to be a good solution on paper may also beg the question, at what point do you start to move on?
When you first split up you no doubt started to make plans, with great ideas that inspired you in your newly single life. You were enthusiastic about booking that training course, looking for a new job, becoming self-employed, getting toned, updating your image and couldn't wait to get started. But ending up in the arms of your ex, even occasionally, may well put those plans on hold.
Revisiting familiar territory can halt our enthusiasm, causing our motivation to stall for a time. It can become too much effort when there's an exciting distraction in our lives, something that puts a smile on our faces!
Not that long ago we shared feelings, emotions and dreams. We loved each other, built a home, maybe family together. Having sex with our ex can gradually reawaken those feelings and trigger the sentiments involved, resulting in conversations that begin, 'do you remember when' and 'what about the time', all cosy moments that awaken deeper emotions.
Problems arise if we gradually start to expect more from the arrangement. It's important to remember that this is not a relationship but more of a convenience for both. However, over time we might find ourselves eagerly awaiting texts, annoyed if they don't arrive, wondering when the next hook-up might be, dreaming about where our future may lead.
But our ex may well feel very differently about us now. Things are often said or done in the run up to a divorce, hurt and angry exchanges that cannot be forgotten. Those feelings we once described as love may have mellowed into, at best, a comfortable acceptance of each other because of out joint history.
Sex and our ex is not necessarily about making love or rekindling the relationship but more about releasing stress and pent-up emotions in a familiar setting. We know each other, are comfortable with each other's body's, are aware of each other's likes, dislikes and idiosyncracies. It's easy and familiar.
It may even have been that sex was a key part of the relationship, something that continually pulled us back together, even in the darkest days of the divorce.
So, if you find yourself going down that familiar path maybe first protect yourself by setting some personal parameters.
- Identify why your relationship failed and remind yourself of those reasons and the personal cost involved. Deal with any issues and find ways to improve how you feel about yourself, maybe by education and working towards qualifications, becoming more independent financially, toning up and updating your image or through therapy, where you resolve any behavioural issues, so increasing your confidence and self-esteem.
- Accept invitations and gradually start to feel better about yourself as you extend your social circle. Build your independence away from the home. Find time for things that interest you; maybe sport, an evening class, places where you meet people with similar interests to yourself. There may be limited options to meet in person at the moment, so go online and enjoy communicating and improving your social and conversational skills.
- Set reasonable goals for moving forward at your own pace. Finding a new home, job, circle of friends or support circle may all take time and cause stress initially, but take the pressure off yourself, accept help and be wary of looking to your ex for comfort, reassurance or sex out of loneliness or habit.
Then if you do find yourselves enjoying each other's company and end up in bed it's about genuine uncomplicated fun for both. But also remember that your intentions at the outset may change and result in serious complications further down the line!
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net