Spotting my ex James* across the road, my heart skipped a beat.
Having not seen each other for over a decade, it’s safe to say that I was excited for this reunion.
He was now well into his 30s but barring a few lines across his face and some impressive facial hair, looked just as he had when we first met.
We had a brief relationship that lasted just six months but to a teenage me this felt like an eternity.
Although we had remained friendly throughout the years, we rarely spoke… until he randomly slid into my DMs one day.
As it often does, friendly banter online soon turned into exchanging naughty photos and light sexting, as James broke the big news: he was coming to London with his mates and ‘did I want to have a drink?’.
Damn right I did.
Setting up a sexy reunion felt like an episode from the corny 90s TV shows I used to watch (Dawson’s Creek has a lot to answer for in my love life).
Of course, if you’ve opened this column – and read the headline – then you already know that I didn’t end up magically falling back in love with my ex.
Instead, I had sex with his best friend.
Before you begin tutting your finger or calling me names, let me explain.
We all organised to meet for drinks at a bar in central London, which turned into an impromptu bar crawl that lasted until the early hours.
I was a little bit nervous about seeing my ex again so I brought along two of my friends and James did the same, including Pete*, who I hit it off with straight away.
As the night went on, it became more and more apparent that my ex and I had little in common.
Yes, Pete and I had wild sex – but there was also an emotional component
Pete and I however got on like a house on fire. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with this revelation, since I was technically there to catch up – and hopefully hook up – with James.
In fact, I was so dedicated to my original mission that, in a last-ditch attempt to find any kind of connection, I suggested my ex and I sneak into a pub toilet for a drunken fumble away from our friends. Halfway through our makeout session, we both realised that something just felt off.
Looks alone – and he did look bloody beautiful – were no longer enough to sustain our attraction.
In contrast, Pete and I had an undeniable spark that just got more intense as the bar crawl rolled on. That same night, drunk and standing in a pub garden, we decided to act on our connection.
Wanting to respect James – and avoid any hurt feelings – we did what all adults should do in sex and love: we tackled the issue head-on.
Each speaking to him separately, we asked how he would feel about us going home together.
I felt a bit awkward about it but had a feeling James wouldn’t mind. I was right. Ever the laid-back type, he laughed, gave me a hug and his blessing, and then ordered another beer.
To answer the burning question I know you want to ask: yes, Pete and I had wild sex – but there was also an emotional component.
We stayed in touch for months afterwards but living in different countries isn’t exactly a great recipe for long-term romance.
The experience did make me think about how we rely on the familiar in dating, though.
Many single people, myself included, often turn to the past as we grow older, wondering if we should have tried harder with an ex or if we made a mistake in ending things.
It’s only natural, but hooking up or even just hanging out with an old flame is a double-edged sword.
It could lead to good sex or a renewed relationship. But the other, and much more likely, scenario is that one or both of you will get hurt.
A few years ago, a different ex and I started things up again after a brief time apart.
We had been madly in love but our relationship was messy and toxic.
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When it inevitably ended for the second time, this experience dug out all the old memories (and piled on plenty of new ones). It took us even longer to move on from each other than it would if we had left well enough alone.
So always be careful when opening that Pandora’s box.
And I’d never say meeting up with an ex is all bad.
Take me and James for example. Despite things not going as we’d hoped, there are no unanswered questions – it feels good to have closed that door.
And it was a healthier approach – in fact, James even once asked for permission to hit on a friend of mine (I said yes, too).
I’m not suggesting you draw up a list of your ex’s mates to sleep with but fate works in mysterious ways, and all that. The most important thing is to be respectful and honest.
Things soon fizzled with Pete but I have no regrets.
For anyone considering sex (or dates) with an ex, I have one key piece of advice.
Remember there was a reason you stopped seeing each other to begin with. If that reason still exists, tread carefully.
You might be better off finding someone else. Like their best friend (with permission) – or even a perfect stranger. Or maybe you should just invest in that really great vibrator.
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