crocodiles-573744_960_720Let’s face it: sex is an important part of almost every relationship and, correspondingly, sex is an important part of why many relationships end. But once it’s over and you’re adjusting to your new life, is it ever a good idea to have sex with your ex?

Four reasons why we do it:
1. We’re lonely (or horny).
2. It’s familiar.
3. We’re hoping to get back together.
4. We’re hoping to leave a lasting impression.

So, we’ve rationalized doing the deed. We’ve convinced ourselves that we’re not hurting anybody, that it’s healthy, that it’s only this one time, that it’s just another way of saying goodbye. Sound familiar? But is it a good idea?

Here’s an example of what can go wrong, taken straight out of my divorce mediation files (please note, the names have been changed to maintain confidentiality):

Adam and Heidi had been separated for two years, and were both finally on the same page about getting divorced. They’d already divided the furniture, the books, and their massive dvd collection. But they still had some major issues to decide: whether to sell the house, spousal support, child custody and visitation, and splitting up their credit card bills. They were fairly amicable at their first mediation session. We talked about their two daughters, and both were clearly committed to co-parenting. Things were moving along well; that is, until I asked them to tell me about their $30,000+ in credit card debt. Yes, it was a very touchy subject. It seems, Adam had a bit of a gambling problem. Heidi got accusatory and Adam got defensive, so I ended the mediation appointment and sent them home with a homework assignment to come up with a couple of proposals as to how to split the debt and pay it off. We set the next appointment for two weeks later.

Imagine my surprise when they came back for their next session, actually making eye contact with each other! Adam said he had “won big” and was able to pay off the Visa bill. He told me they “celebrated” with a nice dinner the previous night. Well, I’m no rocket scientist, but I am definitely intuitive. Something about last night . . .

Needless to say, they made the rest of their decisions rather quickly. Adam was in a generous mood, and Heidi pretty much took advantage of it. As a neutral third party, I kept my mouth shut, and let them reach their own conclusions. What could have been a prolonged, vicious battle mostly about money turned out to be a peaceful situation. I didn’t need to ask them if they’d had sex the night before, and it really didn’t matter.  So, assuming they did, was it a good idea? Were they thinking clearly about the important decisions they were making?

Six months later, Adam was experiencing buyer’s remorse over the deal he made in the afterglow.  They came in for another mediation session, and modified a few things.  But it made me wonder what compromises they might have made had they not had sex with each other during the mediation process.  Would the outcome have been the same or different?

What’s your opinion?  Is sex with your ex ever a good idea?