Because I'm the Mom

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Sex With Your Ex? Why Divorce Sex is So Good and So Bad

Ever had post-divorce sex with your ex?

Sex with your ex?

Post-divorce sex with your ex?

You see it on TV all the time - a divorced couple hopping into the sack for some afternoon delight. There's even a song devoted to divorce sex from the television show "Cougar Town," with the line: "It's the best....but you'll regret....sex with your ex....."

Nobody talks about it but everybody's doing it

Despite how common it is, it's not easy finding much research done on divorcing and divorced couples getting that final hook up. There's a lot out there about dating after a divorce, but there isn't much exploration of that dirty little window of time between separation and divorce or just after your divorce when for lots of all-too-human reasons a lot of people fall back into old, familiar patterns, back into old, comforting sexual routines with their exes. I suspect the lack of public conversation is because most folks don't want to talk about it. They just want to do it. The secrecy, the absurdity, the naughtiness is what makes it so hot.

Luckily, people tell me stuff. So gathering all of my expert investigative reporting skills I have discovered certain patterns that emerge in ex-sex that I think are worth noting. See if any of these sound familiar:

Hot Hate Sex: You've got two people who have a tremendous amount of energy and chemistry between them that looks and feels like hate.
They trash talk each other endlessly to anyone who will listen (alas, most often the kids) and seem stuck in the white-hot heat and intensity of divorce in its earliest and meanest phase. OF COURSE THE SEX IS HOT. Basically, you've got two adolescents rampaging on the hormonally adolescent-like fumes of grief, rage, relief, terror and revenge. It can happen once and flame out. Or it can sizzle for a while, until it crashes. Both ways end badly. You can't sustain it. All the old wounds and rawness and resentments come tumbling out from under the sheets with you. Usually one person (the woman) has harbored some tiny fantasy that you might, despite it all, be able to get back together now that the sex is hot and when that inevitably doesn't happen, and things inevitably get ugly again, it hurts all the more. Again.

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Exes with Benefits ("Have you lost weight?"): Another incredibly common way to go. You just separated and now that you're not living together things are so much calmer and nicer between you. The pressure is off. You're not fighting. The little snipes and snarks are gone. He's coming by the house to change light bulbs and walk the dog. He seems like the guy you fell in love with. He lights up when he sees you.

Read more: Divorce Diaries: Sex With Your Ex?

Pamela Cytrynbaum teaches at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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