The Myth Of Friends With Benefits With Your Ex-Girlfriend


“Ever since the breakup, I keep thinking about the crazy sex we had while we were together. Our sex life was amazing. God, she was physically and sexually a perfect match for me, and I’m worried I won’t find another woman who compares to her. I think I’m over us as a couple, but I want her again…is it normal to be friends with benefits with your ex? I feel like that would be the perfect situation for me”

Look, I’ll be the first one to tell you that it’s normal to think about your ex-girlfriend sexually after the relationship ends. I’ll out myself here: I’ve done it, and I know you have too.

Related: How To Stop Fantasizing About Your Ex-Girlfriend

But thinking about her sexually is one thing. Hooking up with her in a friends-with-benefits relationship (FWB) is another, even if it’s your ex-girlfriend who wants to be friends with benefits.

There are only 2 situations where being friends with benefits with your ex-girlfriend isn’t bad for your long-term, happiness as a man. And chances are, neither of these two situations applies to you. Thus, being friends with benefits with your ex is probably a bad idea and today I’m going to show you exactly why.

You Are Biologically Wired To Think Of Her Sexually

On a strictly biological level, multiple studies have confirmed that mankind is wired to fall somewhere between monogamy (one partner) and polygamy (multiple partners).[1]

Moreover, cross-cultural research has repeatedly confirmed that men are typically more sexually promiscuous than women.[2]

What does this mean for our purposes? Your brain is wired to spread your genes as far and wide as humanly possible in order to keep humankind growing. This urge to spread your genes (at least in part) depends on your exposure to prenatal testosterone in the womb, which explains why men tend to be more sexually permissive than women.[3]

On its own, this doesn’t reveal much. But when we layer in a collection of 3 studies by Ursala Athenstaedt out of the University of Graz, the association becomes clear. Athenstaedt found that men hold more positive attitudes about their ex-partners than women. This variable was strongly correlated with…you guessed it, permissive sexual attitudes.[4]

And what is more permissive than a friends with benefits relationship with your ex-girlfriend?

TLDR: You want to have lots of sex, and lots of babies because you are a man, and that’s what you’ve evolved to do. To maximize the amount of babymaking, it makes sense to have more sexual partners. And who better to have sex with than someone you are already comfortable with, who you think will be an “easier” conquest than your ex-girlfriend?

It’s from this line of thinking that the myth of a friends with benefits relationship with your ex-girlfriend emerges.

The Myth: There Are Benefits To Being Friends With Benefits With Your Ex-Girlfriend

When Ragnarr Lodbrok was cast into a pit of vipers by King Ælla of Northumbria, he ceased to be a man. With the cast of a die, he became a legend in the annuals of history. Over 1,000 years later, he (and his sons) even got a freaking awesome TV show which I highly recommend you watch.

But for all that has been written about him over the years, Ragnarr Lodbrok is likely a literary invention of the Icelandic peoples of the time. As with many legends, the myth of Ragnarr Lodbrok likely grew from a desire to explain and reconcile the many confusing events of the time and to provide a welcome escape from the dark reality of living at the time.

Entering into a friends with benefits relationship with your ex-girlfriend can be the same thing.

It can be a form of wish-fulfillment, where you re-write the reality of your situation into something that’s more palatable, especially if you still have feelings for her.

Much like aspiring towards the myth of a Viking sea king with unlimited ambitions and the means to achieve them, a friend’s with benefits relationship with your ex can promise a chance to return to a place that’s comfortable and familiar, with a woman you still care about and are attracted to.

In the same way that the sagas promised gold, glory, and women, a sexual reunion with your ex-girlfriend promises a quick escape from loneliness and sexual lack you may be facing.

And though the promise of plunder and riches seems tempting when reading about it in a glorified tale, the reality of the situation is often far from what was promised.

Because the truth is, shifting from a committed relationship to a friends with benefits relationship can be very dangerous to you.

The Reality: Being Friends With Benefits With Your Ex-Girlfriend Is Bad

The tales of Ragnarr Lodbrok, though inspiring, ignored many of the brutal details of the time, whether that was the sheer abundance of violence, rape, starvation, or desolation.

While the sagas can avoid reality because they are just stories, you can’t avoid the reality of being friends with benefits with your ex-girlfriend.

And the simple reality is this: being friends with benefits with your ex-girlfriend is bad. The majority of the time a friends with benefits relationship is unhealthy both for you, and for her.

Before you start looking for an exception, trust me, I know there are exceptions. More on that in a minute, so file that away. But in the same way, you probably wouldn’t be a famous Viking if you lived in 866, you probably will not be successful in having a friends with benefits relationship with your ex-girlfriend.

Pictured: You (on the right) trying to be a Viking in 866.

Why do I think you’re setting yourself up for failure?

1: Managing A Friends With Benefits Relationship Is Tough, As It Is

How many successful friends with benefits relationships have you had?

I define a successful friends with benefits relationship as one where:

The Men’s Breakup Definition Of A Successful Friends With Benefits Relationship

  1. The relationship lasts for longer than 3 months with no drama;
  2. You see her no more than once a week;
  3. She doesn’t sleep over;
  4. You are seeing (or at least trying to see) other women;
  5. You understand and are okay with her seeing other men or women;
  6. The expectations for the relationship are set very clearly from the beginning for both people;
  7. Boundaries are clearly communicated and enforced;
  8. Communication is open and honest;
  9. You won’t lose any sleep if she leaves you sex life;
  10. Neither of you expects something more than just sex & friendship;

If you haven’t had a successful friends with benefits relationship before, what makes you think that you’ll be able to successfully manage one with a woman like your ex-girlfriend, especially if you have history?

Are you going to be able to commit to seeing her only once a week?

How do you think she’s going to feel about you dating other women? How are you going to feel if she’s dating someone else?

Related: Why Is My Ex-Girlfriend Jealous That I’m Dating Again?

It’s tough enough to have a successful FWB – but with your history, you’re just asking for trouble, because…

2: How Are You Going To React When One Of You Inevitably Catches Feelings (If You Don’t Have Them Already)

A recent survey by Zava Med of 1,000 Americans and Europeans showed that 52% of men and 44% of women got emotionally attached to their FWB. Moreover, about 33% of both of men and women admitted to wanting a romantic relationship with their FWB.[5]

While it’s impossible to know what the history of all the involved parties was, we can make an educated guess and assume the majority of the respondents aren’t exes – which only reinforces my point.

While these results are far from scientific, we can say one thing for sure: there’s a good chance that someone is going to catch feelings, and more likely than not that someone is going to be you. Shocking, I know. But consider the research I presented to you above: you are more likely to think better of her than she thinks of you.

Do you really want a repeat of the breakup all over again when she reminds you that it’s just “friends” with benefits?

Alternatively, how are you going to handle it if she wants to get back together? Are you going to risk getting back into on-again, off-again territory just because the sex is great?

Of course, that’s assuming that neither of you have feelings for each other already, which I can tell you is unlikely. Speaking of which…

3: Are You Sure You’re Even Over Her Yet?

If you aren’t over her yet, entering into a friends with benefits relationship is the equivalent of pressing the stop button on your recovery process.

I mean, it is quite literally the same thing as being friends with her, which I strongly recommend you never do.

Related: Why You Should NEVER Agree To Be Friends After The Breakup

In most cases I see, when two ex-partners are still sleeping together, one (or both) of them is holding on to hope of getting back together. This type of situation causes drama, jealousy, hurt feelings, self-confidence issues, and all sorts of other shit that you just don’t need when you are trying to heal from heartbreak.

So, Should You Be Friends With Benefits With Your Ex-Girlfriend?

You shouldn’t be friends with benefits with your ex-girlfriend in the majority of cases. Are there benefits to hooking up with an ex girlfriend? Of course, but those benefits are far outweighed by the potential downside: namely, you not being able to recover from your breakup and move on with your life.

With that being said, there are 2 exceptions to this rule, as I mentioned previously which I will briefly describe here as each situation is deserving of its own article.

Exception 1: When You Were Together You Were Sexually Non-Monogamous

If you want to know what I’m talking about, read the article I have linked below where I describe my non-monogamous dating system.

Related: Dating After A Breakup | Your Rotation

Chances are, this won’t apply to you, though.

Exception 2: You Have Completely Moved On From Her

If you have completely and totally moved on from her, it’s okay to be friends with benefits. My definition of moved on is when:

The Men’s Breakup Definition Of Moving On

  1. You have had at least one (but preferably more) sexual or romantic relationships since your breakup;
  2. You don’t want to get back together with her;
  3. You have resolved any outstanding anger, sadness, jealousy, or similar emotions;
  4. You understand that she is not special;
  5. You can look at her without feeling emotional;
  6. You are okay if you never see her again;
  7. You understand why your relationship went south;
  8. You are okay with keeping things sex only.

If that’s the case, I strongly suggest you read my MASSIVE article on how to have sex with your ex-girlfriend which is linked below. Fair warning, it’s the most in-depth article I’ve written on Men’s Breakup so far.

Related: The Rational Man’s Guide To Sex With An Ex-Girlfriend

Now that’s all well and good if you are the one who wants the friends with benefits relationship. But what about if she’s pushing for it? Is that any different?

The answer might surprise you.

Here’s Why Your Ex-Girlfriend Wants To Be Friends With Benefits

There’s nothing more confusing than being dumped by your girlfriend only to have her suggest a friends with benefits relationship. At first, it makes no sense. But if we look a little deeper at the growing body of research behind post-breakup sexual contact, a clearer picture emerges.

First things first, it has become increasingly normal to be friends with benefits with your ex. A 2012 study found that 27% of 17-24-year-olds reported having sex with an ex within a 2 year period.[6] Another (albeit, less scientific) survey by Adam and Eve found that 44% of adults kept having sex with their exes after the breakup. This same survey reported that of those who said yes to sex with an ex, 54% of them were women.[7]

With the increasing normalization of this type of engagement, it has become more acceptable for women to ask for it in recent years.

Furthermore, another 2015 study showed that both men and women, dumpers and dumpees are equally likely to contact an ex for continued sexual contact after the breakup.[8]

So not only is it normal for her to want a friends with benefits relationship, there are several possible reasons she’s interested, even if she was the one who dumped you.

According to a groundbreaking 2020 study published in Evolutionary Psychology, most post-breakup sex appears to be motivated by 3 factors:

Here’s Why Your Ex May Want To Be Friends With Benefits[9]

  1. Relationship Maintenance: Maintaining feelings of love, or addressing other similar feelings. Can also include assuaging lonliness, wanting attention, or to feel better after the breakup or to keep a “back burner” option.
  2. Hedonism: The enjoyable and physical elements of breakup sex, including fun, excitement, sexual tension, satisfying needs, and have a partner you are comfortable with.
  3. Ambivalence: An attempt to deal with unresolved emotions, manipulate the power dynamic in the relationship, or using sex as a means to “finalize” the breakup.

While this isn’t that surprising, we can draw an important conclusion from this research.

Instead Of Hooking Up With Her, You’re Better Off With Someone New

Most of the men I work with who are interested in a prolonged friends with benefits relationship with an ex-girlfriend have trouble bringing new women into their life.

Sometimes the block is mental, especially if you are still hung up on how hot she is and you aren’t confident you can bring a woman of her caliber into your sex life. Other times, it’s logistical: where it’s just easier to hook up with your ex-girlfriend because your women skills need work.

Related: Your Ex-Girlfriend Isn’t Special

Either way: I can tell you that an FWB relationship with your ex-girlfriend isn’t as satisfying or rewarding as you are imagining.

I should know, because I’ve personally been in this situation multiple times, including once for almost 2 years post-breakup with a woman I’ve talked about on several of my other articles named Lisa. Just so we are clear: during our relationship, I wasn’t sexually monogamous with her. I follow my own rules, after all!

While I’m not going to show you a picture of her, take me at my word that you would probably find her very attractive, which is what initially motivated me to keep seeing her. Plus, the sexual chemistry we had during our relationship was great. She knew what I liked, and vice versa.

But despite that, the sex always left me wanting. Something was missing.

When it clicked, it clicked hard.

My issue? I was resisting change. By continuing to see Lisa and have sex with her, I was anchoring myself to the past, to a past relationship that had stopped serving me. While I wasn’t attached to her, our friends with benefits relationship was connecting me to a person and a place that I had made the decision to move on from emotionally.

For good or for ill, nothing lasts forever and if you truly want to be consistently happy over the long-term, you need to know when to let things go.

Related: 10 Vital Lessons From Marcus Aurelius About Living A Good Life

So if you are still holding on to this idea of a friends with benefits relationship with your ex-girlfriend, I invite you to ask yourself a most important question: why?

Are you still holding on to a piece of your past you should be letting go of?

Think about it, and look in your heart.

You know the answer.

Talk soon my friends,

Coach Jack

Coach Jack

I'm Coach Jack, the owner and founder of Men's Breakup. I help over 1 million men a year radically transform their lives for the better after being dumped. I teach the only breakup recovery method for men only that puts YOU first, and focuses on building long term, masculine happiness that attracts love, wealth, and success into all areas of your life.

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