After a breakup, it may be common to second guess yourself. You miss being held by your partner, you miss the smell of your partner, and you miss the intimacy with your partner.
These feelings are so intense that you may find yourself in the position of seeking out your ex to try and make up. You may be trying to save the marriage before a divorce or you may want to give the relationship a second start, but many times you want to be intimate with someone who knows your body, knows your past, and has a history with you.
The relationship you build at this time is called “an ex with benefits.” We have seen this played out in movies and it is a common theme in celebrity lives, as well as our neighbors and friends.
Before you get back together or physical with an ex, you must do these 5 things:
1. Make a list of every reason you want to get back together to be intimate
If your reasons are more about soothing the loneliness you feel or feeling like a couple again, the chances are high that this is a temporary filler. It would be wise to divert your focus to something new and interesting. Time is the greatest healer, and each week that passes without your ex you are one week closer to recovery.
2. Understand that although you may be able to have a physical relationship, your ex may not be able to handle it
Be very clear and upfront with your expectations. If your intentions are to meet for intimacy without any other emotional obligations, make sure this is communicated to your ex.
3. If there are children involved, don’t spend the night with your ex in your home
This is confusing for children. Divorce and separation are very painful, and children hold a fantasy of having their mom and dad work things out. If you are on again and off again, it causes anxiety and depression in children and most adults.
4. Always wear protection if being intimate
No matter what your ex tells you, wear protection. There’s no way of telling how many STDs happen with ex-with-benefits behavior, and how many pregnancies happen during this time.
5. No matter what you say verbally, intimacy with an ex is expressing that you are willing to settle for the way they treated you in the past
Make sure this is what you want to communicate to your ex. Most of the time, when a relationship ends it means it was broken. Settling for the brokenness will deteriorate your self-esteem and any respect you have for yourself.
Before you rationalize that it’s just intimacy, be sure you understand clearly what your motives are as well as your ex’s.
There’s a consequence with every behavior, and in this case, the consequences are not worth the time invested, emotionally or physically. The loneliest feeling you will ever have is waking up to realize it was just intimacy.
Mary Jo Rapini MEd, LPC is a psychotherapist, author, speaker, and intimacy counselor.