“You’re 22. Stop trying to make good decisions. See me tonight.”
That was the last time I saw my ex-boyfriend, who I had dated for more than three years.
It was June 22 of this past summer (I’m weirdly good with dates, don’t judge me) and I had just ended things with the boy I was dating at the end of spring semester. He had been great in bed and a lot of fun to hang out with, but I was in the city for the summer and he was stuck in Ithaca (what a drag). What better way to lighten my mood than to see my long-term ex?
I guess you could say I used my ex when I was lonely and vulnerable. I guess you could also say I abused information — namely that he thinks his current girlfriend is very mediocre in bed (this is the kind of information you should never make your ex privy to … just saying). That being said, I don’t think I did anything wrong. Maybe I acted a little selfishly, but everyone is allowed to be selfish sometimes.
We hadn’t spoken in a long time, hadn’t acknowledged each other’s presence when we ran into each other on campus. He hadn’t even wished me happy birthday on my 21st. But when we saw each other that night, the sexual tension was so strong, so palpable that I ripped his clothes off, got on my knees and immediately began giving him head. As I heard him moaning, a smile crept up on my face. It was so effortless to please him when I knew exactly what he wanted.
He threw me onto the bed and fucked me hard and fast, with my legs wrapped around his back. I climbed on top, the position we had finished in together for years. I let him watch as I squeezed my nipples and played with myself — the visual stimuli that I knew would help him finish. It was like almost no time had passed and I was 18 again.
All of the motions were there. I knew what he liked and wasn’t getting, he knew all the positions that got me off. It was like pieces falling into a puzzle — everything that was comforting and familiar, everything that I knew felt right and good. A fleeting thought passed through my head as I stared at his handsome face: “Do you ever feel like you’ll love someone this much again? “
As I felt him finish inside of me, I collapsed and lay on top of him. He smelled the way he always had and his skin still felt smooth and electric against mine. I buried my face in his neck and stroked his hair, inhaling his scent and reveling in the comfort of him.
When I told my friends what happened, they were shocked; our breakup had been so hard for me, he was seriously dating someone else, we hadn’t talked in so long … What happened? Why did I talk to him? How was I feeling?
I know I’m not the first person to turn to an ex in a time of loneliness and emotional instability — it’s a pretty common phenomenon from what I’ve seen with my friends. We think we’re “strong” for having emotionless sex with someone we once cared deeply about. We think we’re “better” than the other person because the sex meant nothing for us but meant something for them. We think we’ve “won” (as if a breakup is a competition with winners and losers) because they caved and agreed to see us.
It feels really good to go back to something familiar. It feels really comforting and, in a weird way, gives us hope that maybe not all the love is lost. We live in a place and time where emotional connection is rare; when it happens it’s this overwhelming feeling of completion. Returning to something that once was gives us hope that, in a sea of drunken booty calls and DFMOs, there is actually something more for us to look forward to.
However, that night we went our separate ways. I went downtown to drink with friends, he stayed uptown. There was an emptiness as we went through the motions of putting our clothing back on and leaving his apartment together. We didn’t even talk afterward except the one time he called me for phone sex a few weeks later (this poor girlfriend of his …).
That’s exactly the problem with ex sex: While it seems like that emotional connection will be there, it feels empty and pointless afterward.
Breakups are messy. One party is inevitably hurt more than the other (regardless of what people tell you). People end relationships for good reason — returning to the past dredges up a lot of good memories, but a lot of bad ones too. Returning to the past instead of moving forward into the future only reminds us of what once was, but no longer is.
The sex was fine, sure, but it didn’t make me feel any better about my state of boyfriend-less-ness. In fact, it just made me miss my ex-boyfriend and wonder if I would ever again have the fortune of loving and being loved. All that was left at the end of the night was a long subway ride downtown, feelings of bitterness about what no longer was, and this realization: Ex sex just isn’t worth it.