Sex with an Ex: Comfortable or Confusing?

Dear Sherry:

I have this ex-boyfriend who is very scared of the "L" word. After seven months of dating, he told me he just wanted to be friends with "benefits." Of course I told him no, and then moved out. But now we are both miserable and his friends have told me he's falling apart without me. Yesterday I gave in to the "benefits" part. But now I'm not sure if we are back together. I don't know how to approach him about this. What should I do?



Sherry Amatenstein

Sherry is the author of The Q&A Dating Book and Love Lessons from Bad Breakups. She has taught dating seminars, appeared as an expert... Read more

Dear Amanda:

Sex with an ex can be many things: tumultuous, passionate, bittersweet, romantic, nostalgic, angry, comfortable, etc. However, sex with an ex is often a mistake. Instead of magically solving problems between a couple, it can create new ones. For instance, post-tryst, you're finding it even more difficult to communicate honestly and openly with your ex. Otherwise, you wouldn't be asking me rather than him if the two of you are a couple again.

My hunch: You're not. Tell him that, while you had a sexual lapse, it's not going to happen again. (And don't let it.) Either he's got to decide he wants you back body and soul, or he's got to let you go so that you can feel free to find someone whose lips don't freeze when trying to form the "L" word.

Even if he did say, "Yes, darling, how could I have been such a fool, let's pick up where we left off," realize that those could be impulsive rather than well thought-out words. It takes more than one night of even five-star sex to cause a true change of heart. He'd have to prove to you (and to me, which might be tougher) a willingness to work on the relationship.

My bottom line: Don't be his buddy. Be your own and steer clear of this confused and confusing man.

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