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Sex With An Ex Actually Helps People Get Over Past Relationships

Update Date: Aug 06, 2013 04:13 PM EDT

Sex with an ex may not be such a bad thing, new research suggests.

Psychologists found that sexual intercourse with a former flame may in some cases lessen the psychological distress of breaking up.

The study found that divorced partners who ended up sleeping together report that sex with their ex actually lightened the psychological distress caused by the split.  

The latest study, published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, involved a group of 137 recently divorced adults.  Participants were asked how many had slept together after their divorce papers had been signed.

The findings revealed that 82.5 percent of participants remained in contact with their ex after their separation and almost 21.9 percent had sex.

However, psychologists explained that the extent to how much post-divorce sex helped a partner depended on how "over" the relationship they already were.

The study found that partners who hadn't accepted the break-up found the sex actually helped lessen the pain of divorce. However, partners who had accepted the breakup found sex made no difference at all to how they dealt with it.  The latest findings suggest that sex with the ex may not be quite as emotionally harmful as we think and can actually benefit those who are not completely over their relationship.

Researchers say that breakups often leaves us with unfulfilled attachment needs and sex with an ex may help provide some sense of security and at some fulfillment of those needs.

A recent survey by online retail store Lovehoney revealed that more women than men look back with longing on past relationships and admit to having had better sex with an ex than their current partner. The poll of 1,100 adults found that 38 percent of women said that the best sex of their lives was in an ex.

Sex experts Tracey Cox told the Daily Mail that the findings point to nothing new.

She explained that many women benefitted from having sex with their ex because it ultimately gave them "closure" on the relationship.

"Sometimes we need to go back to move forward, and revisiting the sexual side of the relationship can sometimes make us see very clearly that we've idealized the relationship or feel much less pain than we thought. So there's a sense of closure that can be helpful," Cox said.

However, she warned women that having sex with an ex might not always be a good idea.

"I still think it's dodgy ground if there's a lot of emotion involved. If a much-loved partner who has left is interested in sex with you it sends of message of hope - and that could be false hope," she explained.

"On their side it's a trip down sexual memory lane, on your side, it's make-up sex with a view of rekindling," Cox added.

"If you're going to do it, make sure you go into it with a clear understanding of what it means to the other person," she concluded.

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