Is Breakup Sex Ever Worth It? Here Are The Pros & Cons

We see it in media all the time, and many of us have experienced it personally: breakup sex. This little tête-à-tête happens when two people have called it quits but still end up in bed with each other doing the deed. As much as sleeping with an ex is usually deemed a bad idea, according to various research, it is pretty common. It seems a lot of people have trouble letting go of a relationship — or at least the sex part of the relationship.


Although there are many reasons why someone might want to keep sleeping with their ex, a 2020 study published in Evolutionary Psychology found that the most common factors that motivate people to sleep with their former partner are hedonism, relationship maintenance, and ambivalence. According to the study, men were the most likely to be inspired by hedonism and ambivalence — something that women sleeping with their male ex might not want to hear; however, there it is.

But no matter why someone might have breakup sex, there are pros and cons to it. So, before you engage in sex with an ex, you want to know what's in store for you, especially what those cons might be. 

Pro: It's familiar

When you've been having sex with someone for a long time, you know the ins and outs of their body, what they like, what they don't like, and everything in between. Even if the sex has become like clockwork during your relationship, there's still comfort in that. Unlike other people you might date, your ex smells and feels like home, and there's an inherent peacefulness that comes with being in their arms. We tend to underestimate the importance of familiarity until it's gone.


One of the struggles with dating is finding ultimate comfort with someone else, and while it can happen in time, if you're just coming out of a breakup, you may end up frustrated that it's taking so long to find that comfort zone. When this happens, the urge to go back to an ex, at least for sex, is strong. Sure, there's excitement in exploring the uncharted waters of someone new, but at the end of the day, most of us prefer to be someplace we've been before and know well.

Con: It can prolong the healing process

If you subscribe to Charlotte York of a little show called "Sex and the City," and her belief that it takes half the time of a relationship to get over someone, then you have an idea of how long a broken heart might heal, but that's also a bit simplified. Nothing about relationships and breakups is easy.


A 2021 survey by market research company OnePoll found that most people reported that it takes about six months to properly heal from a breakup. Granted, there's wiggle room in there based on the seriousness of the relationship, how it ended, and other details, but that appears to be the baseline. But if you're having breakup sex, you can forget about being over your ex in roughly six months. In fact, every time you have sex with your ex, you're basically starting at zero all over again.

Although sex without love is possible, and many people can do it, if you're sleeping with someone you once loved or still love, then it's not just pleasure-only sex. It's complicated and heartfelt sex — the type of sex that will prolong your emotional and mental recovery from the relationship.


Pro: It can be fun

Because we all know that most of our friends are going to give us the stink eye if we tell them we're still sleeping with our ex, sneaking around and having breakup sex can be extra fun. You're not only reaping the pleasurable benefits, but you and your ex have a secret you're keeping too. And who doesn't love having something that's all theirs?


But to keep breakup sex fun, you must be smart about it. If feelings arise or you begin to feel jealous if your ex has started casually dating new people, then the fun is sucked out of it, and all you have left is drama. Breakup sex has all the potential in the world to be fun and spicy as long as you both know where you stand. Discussing expectations and even creating a set of rules can help with that, as unsexy as it might seem to have those chats.

Con: Hope can lead to heartbreak

According to the 2020 study published in Evolutionary Psychology, although emotions of breakup sex can run the gamut, so can the consequences of engaging in this behavior. This means that if one partner hopes to rekindle the romance and bring the relationship back out of the ashes through sex, the other partner might be moving on and just having sex due to the aforementioned hedonism factor. There's a major disconnect — a detachment that will cause even more emotional scars for the one hoping to get back together. 


Breaking up the first time around is devastating enough, so going back to your intimate ways with your ex with the hope that maybe you'll be able to salvage what's left and get your relationship back on track, only to find out it's not going to happen, is another punch to the gut. You're forced to once again go through the emotional turmoil that came with the first breakup.

Pro: It can provide closure

People experience closure in different ways. Some need to put all their feelings in a letter or email; others need to make an explosive scene at a trendy restaurant with a drink thrown in their ex's face, while you may find closure in having breakup sex. There's no right or wrong way to close the book on a relationship. But if you decide that breakup sex is the best way to get the closure you need, then you want to be sure that you won't get dragged down the rabbit hole of falling in love again or hoping that the flame for each other is still there.


Getting closure is about taking control of a situation, saying what you want to say, then walking away and moving on with your head held high. If you can't envision breakup sex impacting and propelling you forward, you may want to look into other closure options.

Con: You're not sure how to stop

Whether it's breakup sex with an ex, friends with benefits, or a bi-monthly hook-up with that person you see at the bar whose name you never remember, knowing how and when to stop having sex isn't easy. Are you supposed to continue to do it until one of you ends up in a serious relationship? Does it go on and on until someone gets bored and decides to ghost the other person? Should you talk about fazing it out? At some point, there are too many questions and not enough answers. Or, at least, no answers make sense, so you're probably both thinking about how you're supposed to handle things without hurting each other. 


If you can go into breakup sex with a specific end date, you can avoid a lot of potential awkwardness. But, unfortunately, when the libido kicks in, and the oxytocin starts flowing, all rationale goes out the window. 

Con: It can prevent you from meeting someone new

Even if you're not hoping to get back with your ex, sleeping with them will still stand in the way of meeting someone new. It's hard enough to put yourself out there and try to date in this day and age, so when you have something in your life that's not necessarily holding you back but standing in your way, it can hinder your dating process.


Although not everyone who has breakup sex with an ex will experience all these things, the possibility of having to deal with or manage at least a couple of them is still there. There's no denying that breakup sex can be worth it for some, but it won't work for everyone. Not everyone is cut out for having sex with their ex. If you're one of those who see more cons than pros, then you know it's not for you. Maybe in time, perhaps a few years from now, you can hook up for old times' sake. However, in the interim, it's a good idea to create distance and start putting your future first if you know in your core that breakup sex will do more damage than good.