There’s something kind of tacky about admitting that you want to fuck your ex, isn’t there? Most of my friends’ relationships failed in part because the sex/chemistry was bad. Honestly, in some ways, I envy them that—it sounds easier. But I know I’m not the only person out there whose nipples traitorously harden remembering the earth-shattering sex they had with someone they. Just. Can’t. Get. Along. With.
It feels like some sort of curse. Statistically, humans tend to forget bad things over time. Experimental evidence has shown time and again how perversely cheerfully we remember the past. I would like this to be true of my erotic memories of my ex. I would like to be able to tell myself, “That is an idealization of the past. It wasn’t anywhere near as awesome as you remember it.” Unfortunately, as you may have observed, I have a habit of obsessively chronicling my life (and you never see the hundreds of my journal pages that never find their way to the internet). This meticulous writing tendency permits me the unenviable luxury—which I mostly scrupulously deny myself—of strolling back through my past and confirming that, no, it really was that good, dammit.To keep myself sane, I usually only permit myself to read about my past in a detached way—with even more detachment than I would read about a fictional character’s life, actually. I try to maintain more of the kind of attitude I would keep to if I was going to, say, edit a friend’s novel. And yet, even with that emotional detachment, I irrevocably find that my body aches with memory at a long string of really good nights… afternoons… mornings. Sigh. You get the idea.
It’s pretty telling that I originally started writing this a year ago. I waited that long to post this because I wanted to see if what I wrote was still true after not having slept with him for longer than we slept together. After all, the conventional wisdom is that you can’t hold on to an unfulfilled sexual desire for that long, especially if you’re constantly surrounded by a sexy human buffet. I feel like our culture assures us that the heat of that kind of desire can only persist in some sort of sexual desert (You’ll forget! You’ll get over it! You’ll move on!). It’s not like I wander through life in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction, looking back to my time with my ex-boyfriend as the only time I was sexually fulfilled. Quite the contrary, actually. Up until pretty recently, my life really was a splendid banquet of fuck. None of that makes the memories of what I had with my ex any less mouth wateringly sexy. It was just that good. I am sorry to say that the conventional wisdom proved to be bullshit on this one.
I expect this would be easier if he were a bad person, instead of being absurdly sweet and charming. If he actually broke my heart instead of just being jealous and judgmental and needy, I expect I could have convinced my body a long time ago that that awesome sex—sex we used to joke was “fictional sex” because it felt like sex described in an erotic novel—was fictitious, not merely fictional. But he didn’t really break my heart; he just bruised it to the point where even that goddess-damned sex wasn’t worth staying with him… Oh, but that was a hard call.
I never used to understand why people would keep sleeping with their exes, often over and over again. (And I still don’t understand why they do it with people who were cruel and hurtful). The problem is that for all that there is some overlap, sexual chemistry and relationship chemistry just really aren’t the same thing. One of the sayings in my tribe is “crazy smells good,” by which we mean that the kinds of people who will bring unwanted drama into your life are often exactly the kinds of people that you find most attractive. Sadly, realizing that the person is crazy is no real help for convincing your body that the sex isn’t amazing. And who wants to try to pretend to themselves that a night—and especially a long string of nights—that changed their life didn’t happen? That’s a lot to try to make yourself forget, and I know I don’t want to forget.
Is there a magic solution to this problem? I have a friend who has the same problem, and her solution was to limit herself to only sleeping with her sexy ex once a month. Those are the kinds of improbable solutions that poly people can sometimes indulge in, but fucked if I know what monogamous people do.
One of these days, I’m going to survey people and ask them how many have jerked off while thinking about an ex from more than 2 years ago. I suspect the number is much higher than that lie of conventional wisdom would tell us.