BF reads almost everything that I write and always offers great constructive criticism. He pushes me to write in my own voice, to write often to and to write well. A few weeks ago, right after I wrote this entry we were sitting around the kitchen table reading it over, while Sloan’s “The Other Man” played in the background. BF looks up at me from behind my laptop says, “This post is really good. However, –and please don’t take this the wrong way– I think you need to dig deeper. Its cool that you’re talking about how you dated these unavailable guys but I feel like you’re just skimming the surface. You need to get to the core of the issue and explain WHY you did it”. And he’s right. If I’m really going to be skinny dipping here, I can’t do that by only getting my toes wet, I need to jump in feet first. So, I’ve decided to write a series of posts aboutmotivation, or more precisely: What motivates us do we do things that we know aren’t necessarily good for us?
So, here is PART I of “Knowing its Wrong but Doing it Anyways”
SEX WITH THE EX.
You dated someone. You broke up. At some point you started sleeping with them again, but you never “got back together”. You knew this wasn’t the best idea, but you did it anyways. Sound familiar? Maybe it does or maybe it doesn’t. I’ve definitely been down this road before. I knew it wouldn’t end well but I did it anyways. WHY?
I think the reason I fell into this pattern so easily with one of my ex’s was because our relationship was predicated on sex. Within twenty minutes of us meeting at Element Bar, we were outside in the back alley next to the club, me with my back pinned against the graffiti-ed wall, legs wrapped around his waist, him with his hands up my skirt, both of us tearing at each others clothes, making out. I found out his name during the cab ride back to my house. A few weeks later, I had a big house party for all my friends. Mr. Ex and I ended up in my basement laundry room having sex on top of the machines, while our friends partied upstairs. We emerged an hour later, to disapproving glares from friends who had guessed what we were up to. We laughed it off. We were 21 and couldn’t help ourselves. This was the thing: my attraction to him was so strong that it over ruled any kind of good judgment. I stopped caring what people thought or who got hurt by our actions (even if the person getting hurt was me). Sex was the one thing that worked between us. It was everything else that didn’t: lack of trust, commitment issues, emotional baggage from previous relationships, his infidelity. I knew our relationship was doomed from the get-go, but it didn’t stop us from being attracted to each other. A year of bizarre sexual escapades later, we broke up.
Within a few weeks of us “breaking up” we were sleeping together again. Here are the reasons why this happened (and why I think we tend to sleep with ex’s in general).
Aka “How I rationalized what I was doing wasn’t bad for me, when really it was”
1. Its Comfortable. Just because you break up with someone doesn’t necessarily mean you want to give up sex completely (especially when it’s good). But, a break-up leaves you emotionally vulnerable. Sometimes it feels safer to just keep yourself open to the same person, rather than risk opening yourself up to someone new.
2. Its Convenient. You already have a relationship. You can call them up at 2am and chances are they’ll come over, sometimes with a bottle of wine. Plus, they already know how everything works & what you like. If the sex is good, why waste a good thing?
3. It keeps the notches on your bed post to a minimum. One night stands have never been my thing and I’ve always tried to keep the number of people I’ve slept with to a minimum (although good intentions sometimes fail). Faced with the possibility of having a repeat of Rock ’em Sock ’em Rodeo Man, I figured it was much easier to just booty call the ex.
Here is a truth about myself: I sometimes have a really hard time letting go of people. Which brings me to reason #4, the most dangerous reason of all:
4. I still really loved him and I wasn’t ready to let go. I knew it wasn’t really healthy but, I figured by sleeping with him I’d be able to hold onto a piece of him. Also part of me hoped we’d get back together. I’m embarrassed to admit I ever felt this way, but it’s the truth. So, I decided to settle for table scraps from him, instead of the full meal. But, there is only so long that you can remain emotionally starved before you go insane.
Eventually I ended things for good.
That was years ago and I’ve had a lot of time to reflect since then. I’ve come up with a new list.
Reasons why sleeping with your Ex is BAD NEWS.
(aka “Things we know we are true, but we ignore when we’re doing the ex”)
1. It delays the inevitable and prevents us from moving forward. To use the band-aid analogy, it always hurts less when you rip the band-aid off in one sweep. It’s painful but quick. Sleeping with your ex is the emotional equivalent of pulling the band-aid off one painful hair at a time. What could have been a relatively quick break-up, was drawn out into a six month painful affair. My emotional and physical attachment to him prevented me from doing what I should have been doing during that time: getting over him, healing, moving on, working on myself, & meeting new, better guys.
3. “No Strings Attached” doesn’t work: In an ideal world, consenting, mature adults who used to date could have great sex together without any kind of emotional repercussions. But, in my experience, the opposite is usually true. One person always gets the short end of the stick: they end up with stronger feelings and eventually get really hurt. You can never guarantee that this won’t happen.
3. He’s using you!! Oh this a big one ladies! Looking back this dude had the ideal situation: he got to sleep with me on a regular basis but without the pretense of a “relationship”, he didn’t have to be committed or accountable to me. I wasn’t stupid, I knew I was letting him have his cake and eat it too. But I still wanted him. I lied to myself and thought “I’m getting sex too, so I’m using him just as much as he is using me”. However, every time I saw him walk out my door in the morning and I was left to deal with my messy emotions, I knew this wasn’t true.
4. Lying to yourself is emotionally exhausting: in order to keep up this charade you have to lie to yourself A LOT. I told myself all the classic lies, “This doesn’t mean anything” “We’re just having fun” and the worst of all “I’m happy with the way things are”. Eventually though, you do have to deal with reality and reality hurts.
5. When the reality is they’ve met someone new–it hurts extra bad. I think a lot of women once they’ve slept with someone will form an emotional bound to that person. By continuing to sleep with that person after you’ve broken up with them that bond doesn’t get severed the way it should under normal circumstances. If I had taken that time to get over him (instead of sleeping with him) I’m sure I would have hurt less when I found out he was seeing someone new. Instead, I found out he had met someone new while he was still sleeping with me—a smack in the face that hurt like hell.
6. Your ex may be a giant slut like mine was. I found out I wasn’t the only girl, there were many, many other girls. While he was sleeping with me, he was also sleeping with this new person, and three other people. At least these were the ones I found out about. I have good reason to believe there were more. In this day and age, people shouldn’t mess around with this kind of stuff. I’m really, really fortunate that even though I dated this dude, I remain completely and 100% disease free. But then again, I was always careful (but imagine what could have happened if I hadn’t been?!). If you think your ex may be sleeping with someone else on the side (just to be safe, naturally assume they are) and you still want to sleep with them, then at least do what I did: be careful & practice safe sex. No matter how much you think you still love this person, engaging in risky behavior with them is never worth the cost to YOU. Because at the end of the day, all you have is you. So take good care.
This is all to say, I used to be the kind of girl who pulled the band-aid off, slowly, carefully, painfully. I’ve come to realize that its better to just rip it right off, even if you lose a bit of hair along the way. It grows back.
Has anyone else had a similar experience?