Should You Never Ever Get Back Together?
I have to admit a guilty pleasure. I can’t stop singing along to Taylor Swift’s "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," which is a song about breaking up, getting back together, and finding a familiar form of disappointment. You or some of your friends may have wondered whether it’s actually a bad idea to get back together with an ex-partner.
When it comes to sex with an ex-partner, we’ve found that getting back together is not a harmless hookup. A few years ago, my undergraduate research assistants suggested that we pilot the following question in some of our breakup studies: “Since the end of your relationship, how many times have you had sex with your ex-partner?”
What we found was that over 40% of our participants were still having sex with their ex-partners. On average, they had sex nine times since the breakup. Sometimes the sex occurred within the context of trying a committed relationship again, but often the sex was simply recreational. This postgame activity was associated with various psychological costs. More post-breakup sex was related to a number of negative outcomes, including higher levels of depressed mood and reporting lower levels of personal growth from the breakup.
Breaking up is difficult, and the time following a breakup can be extremely lonely. However, when it comes to having ex-partners be a physical placeholder until finding something better, it might actually keep you from discovering the brighter romantic future you deserve.
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