Nobody Is Having Sex With You Because They're Sleeping With Their Ex (And Vice-Versa)

Is this a win-win or a lose-lose?

by Kate Hakala

You’ve probably had sex with an ex. You might be doing it as you read this, your laptop propped on a body pillow. I know this because a longitudinal study recently published in the Journal of Adolescent Research says that 53% of young adults reported having sex with an ex, and at least 44% have been in on-and-off again relationships that started with sex. If this strikes a little close to home for you, then also be aware that the study also found that our exes are the least likely of our sexual partners to use condoms.

Now, 53% seemed inordinately high, but then I did the math, and as it turns out, I’ve slept with 71% of my exes after breaking up. (Approximately. Also, whoops?) Clearly there’s a predilection for old territory, in not only my bedroom, but in Millenials the world over. The study focused on individuals seventeen to twenty-four — also known as “emerging adults” — who, much like wisdom teeth, are slowly and painfully growing into an environment they’re not entirely sure they fit into. We’re a generation of backsliders, and the world right now, with its economic cesspool and ever-increasing stimuli, is only making the past that much more appealing.

According to a similar study done by, 47% of single women regularly have sex with their ex-partners, with the top five reasons given as:

1. “Missed physical intimacy”
2. “Want to restart the relationship”
3. “Things went too far after too much to drink”
4.“Bumped into each other after a night out and it seemed like a good idea”
5. “Flirting on Facebook”

Excepting the final one, which just speaks of browsing Facebook while shitfaced on Jameson, all of those reasons involve retreating into the past, or choosing the path of least resistance, two things Millennials are pretty consistently accused of.

The researchers conclude that we “emerging adults,” shuffling forth from our parents’ basements into the arms of NYT trend-pieces and novelty Tumblrs, are basically fickle and unimaginative retromaniacs. As they discovered, the general path of our relationships essentially involves cycling through previously-formed connections. For a generation constantly blamed for its inherent laziness, the fact that we’re apparently most likely to bone someone we’ve already boned makes it seem like we’re just as bored and stuck as they say we are. We’re just biding our time as we stagger through a sexual recession.


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