Should You Never Ever Get Back Together?

11/07/2012

Couple-bed-facing-away
iStockphoto

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.

More on Love and Relationships:

5 Ways to Spice Up Your Relationship

Flirting Tips for Men

How to Create a Romantic Night


Ty Tashiro is the author of The Science of Happily Ever After: What Really Matters in the Quest for Enduring Love, an entertaining look at why modern dating is so challenging, why people can easily make bad partner choices, and how science can help us make smart decisions in the search for enduring love. It's available on Amazon, Indie Bound and Barnes & Noble. Dr. Ty received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota. His research has appeared in top academic journals and he has been an award-winning professor at the University of Maryland and University of Colorado. Follow him on facebook and twitter.
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