Everyone I know says they've heard of couple, who on the day their divorce was finalized, went straight from the courthouse to a hotel room, where they secretly met up and had sex. Sounds like a great movie scene, but in reality, I've never known anyone who actually told me firsthand that he or she did that. So, is it an urban myth? Is it something that everyone thinks goes on but really doesn't? Or, is sex with your ex a fantasy for some?
The emotions that go with divorce are intense, especially at the beginning, when one or both of the people still thinks there's a chance it could work. Many couples get back together and break up several times before they finally decide to split up permanently. I think that is very normal -- and, in many cases, necessary. After all, who wants to have any doubt that they did the right thing? Back and forth really is okay, and might help you figure things out.
But even in the midst of a divorce, when the time of doubt has passed and both people know it's for real, I think some couples still have physical desire for each other for a few possible reasons:
1. The two of you made babies together. That's a really big deal. The sex you had led to the people you love most on this earth, so isn't it natural to be sentimental about it? Plus, it feels safe to have sex with the father (or mother) of your children.
2. The happy times run through your mind. If you think about how great the sex was at the beginning of your relationship, it's possible you might try to recapture what you once had, even if in your heart you know it won't last. It could serve as a temporary Band-Aid for your broken heart.
3. Hate and anger can drive desire. There is actually a scene in my novel, Free Gift With Purchase, where a couple is broken up, and the girl, though very angry with her ex calls, and asks him to come over to have sex. I think there are certain situations where people think angry sex is a turn-on, and that's it's fun and sexy. I've always believed there is a very thin line between anger and hate, and sexual desire, and I know I'm not alone. Think Melrose Place, the 1990s mega-hit TV show where an entire apartment complex hated each other, yet they all managed to get naked with one other!
4. You might be seeking closure. "I'll just sleep with him (or her) to reiterate to myself the fact that we really are doing the right thing," could be someone's thought process. They want to reassure themselves they are doing the right thing, and hoping the sex will be so bad, they will walk away from it feeling confident in their decision to be divorced.
5. You're sad and lonely. I could see this happening when the two people are separated and still living in the same house. Both are experiencing the same loss, so they might turn to each other for comfort, rationalizing in their own mind, "Maybe it could still work."
The thing is, friends will tell you it's wrong or stupid to hook up with an ex, and that it will only prevent you from getting over the person. But I don't think that stops people. I think when it comes to the person you are divorcing, you never really lose all the love, no matter how much you tell yourself what a horrible person he or she is. And where there is even the tiniest bit of love, there is potential for sex.
In certain cases, sex with an ex is sexy and fun and exciting. Temporarily, that is. I have to believe that nine times out of 10 the after effects are disappointment, hurt, sadness and regret. So, be careful.
Lastly, I'm sure there are plenty of readers who think I am nuts for even writing this piece, as they would hook up with their ex only when and if hell freezes over.
Every divorce situation is different. But, if you are thinking of hooking up with your ex, be careful. Doing so could cause you extra pain during a brutally difficult time to begin with, and might prevent you and/or your ex from moving on.
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, "Love Essentially" for Sun-Times Media local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.