Over the last two months, I have heard of more than three people who were in a relationship which they said gave them happiness, sexual fulfillment, and left them free to date other people. Is this type of relationship brand new or is it simply a new take on an old one called "open marriage?" One of my friends answered this question for me when she blithely said:
"I'm having sex with my ex! It's great! Hey, listen, sex was always fantastic between us, and this way, we don't run the risk of contracting any sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, sex is even better since we don't live together. There's no baggage left over from day-to-day married life, no bitchiness; no fights. It's like dating, but without any serious commitment."
"But, you still go out with others?" I asked. "I mean you date, right? You're both okay with that?"
"Of course, but any sexual intimacy with the 'new' person is out. That's an unbreakable rule."
Can this be a trend? More and more people are having sex with their ex and it seems to be working out just fine for some. It seems that the 21st century has spawned a new kind of monogamy.
It makes sense. If you had a very good sexual relationship with your spouse, despite the fact that you absolutely couldn't live together as man and wife, it does seem a shame to give it up altogether. Marital disputes aside, it is possible for the sex to be great in a marriage even though everything else is terrible. Great sex is, after all, great sex.
There are good reasons for continuing to have sex with your ex. The prime reason was stated by my friend. With all the precautions we take, along with a common sense approach to avoiding any STDs, we are still apprehensive to begin sexual activity with a new partner. We may be attracted, we may be eager, and we may be emotionally and physically ready. But there's always that little nagging fear about what they may have gotten as a parting gift from their previous partners -- a "what if"-type of thinking that can pretty much dampen the sexual flames if not put them out altogether. The advantage of having sex with your former spouse is that if you were the last person with whom your ex had physical contact, you know you're safe.
Another reason to hook up with your ex is the great sex itself. You know each other physically. Both of you know which erogenous buttons to push, so to speak. Your ex has a road map of your body and knows all the hidden hills and valleys. You both know the touch, smell, and taste of the other's body and individual special turn-ons. If you both enjoyed it, why in the world would you want to give that up?
There's also a certain fun naughtiness in having sex with a former spouse. It's like the sex you had when you were dating. There's the flirting, a feeling of seduction, the thrilling idea of having a fling or pseudo-affair. An attitude of, "we're not married, we're just having great sex" prevails and you feel both sexy and free.
If you can keep it light and fun, it can be a sort of sex with a good friend situation.
As good as this sounds, there can be serious problems in continuing a "marriage by sex only" relationship, especially if you two are legally divorced. One of these problems is called, "married-to-someone-else-now."
Some men and women have the "I had him/her first" idea when it comes to having sex with their former spouses.
"He was my husband! We were married for over five years, after all."
"She may be married to someone else, but I still feel like she's my wife."
Unfortunately, the sex that you have with an ex -- who is now married to another person -- is not just a pseudo-affair; it's the real thing. Your ex has a new title, that of cheating spouse and you gave it to him. If the affair was ever mentioned in a divorce proceeding, you could be named as a co-respondent. No judge would take into consideration the fact that you were previously married to each other as a validation for unfaithfulness.
If your spouse hasn't remarried, there can be another downside to having sex with your ex: emotional attachment. You may not want to admit it, even to yourself, but you may still have strong emotional ties to this person. Sex isn't just physical. The closeness and intimacy of it brings on that most powerful of feelings called love. The euphoria you feel from enjoying each other physically brings this feeling back in full force, masking any reasons you got divorced in the first place. If your partner doesn't feel the same way, there's a major problem with your arrangement.
My friend's cousin put it bluntly when she said, "My dependence on him was like a drug. The sex was great and I felt like I was falling in love with him all over again. Unfortunately, he didn't feel the same way and was actually surprised that I did. He couldn't understand why we couldn't just continue having sex without, as he so sweetly put it, 'all that female emotional crap.' When we stopped seeing each other for the sex, it was like getting divorced for the second time, only worse. It somehow hurt more because, this time, I felt like he was rejecting me."
Another woman had the opposite experience. She wanted to keep the new relationship light and breezy, but her ex had fallen in love with her again and wanted to remarry! She ended all contact with him to avoid any pressure to get back together permanently.
Before you begin to look at your ex through the eyes of lust, think carefully about what you really expect from this "ex-tra" marital fling. If you and your ex can keep it in perspective and not hurt anyone -- including the both of you -- that's fine; if not, it is better for all to move on.
© 2013 copyright Kristen Houghton
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