It’s never a good idea, but we all do it once (or a dozen times): sleeping with an ex. It usually involves a lot of alcohol or devastation after a breakup with someone else (it’s one of the dumb things we do to try to get over heartbreak). Whatever the events are that lead up to it, they’re usually a blur because we never sleep with an ex when we’re feeling clear-headed and stable. Nobody sleeps with an ex after, say, a well-deserved promotion or a wonderful session in therapy. And just like a night of plenty of alcohol or other recreational substances, sleeping with an ex comes with a hangover—a bad one. But, unlike with an alcohol hangover, we can’t exactly tell people that we’ll be out of commission, or just super grumpy, because we slept with an ex. That makes sense from an alcohol hangover but is a bit less accepted after a sleeping-with-the-ex one. Here is a look at the 24 hours after sleeping with an ex.
The fake chill goodbye
First there are the moments when you’re still with the ex. You wake up at his place. You both have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this but haven’t possibly unpacked them yet. So all you can do is crack a few odd jokes, pretend it’s all good, and…bounce.
Then, a feeling of nausea sets in. It’s almost hard to describe the feeling. It’s like a stickiness on your skin. If you could be outside your body for a bit, you’d appreciate that right now.
Next, it’s paranoia. Your mom or friend calls, and by the tone in their voice, you think instantly, “They know.” You feel like the barista at the coffee shop is giving you a look as if she knows. You feel like you’re about to get in trouble for a crime.
Denial that it happened
You decide that it just…didn’t happen. It did happen, but you’ve decided that it didn’t. You tell your brain that it’s free to erase it. You’d like to operate as if it didn’t happen. If someone asks about your night, you mention everything except that.
Denial that it matters
Okay you decide to be an adult and acknowledge that it did happen but you also decide that it doesn’t matter. Sometimes things happen in life and they mean nothing at all. You can just write them off. Yup—just like this.
Your friends judge you
You begin to feel guilty for not telling your friends. You aren’t sure why since, you decided it’s no big deal and it’s really not their business. But you feel like you’re lying to them by not telling them so you do…and here comes the judgment. They try to cover up their judgment with not-so-subtle, super judgmental questions.
Telling your friends it’s no big deal
You tell your friends that they’re the ones being crazy. You insist that it’s really not as big of a deal as they’re making it out to be. You try to change the subject even though clearly the whole group is buzzing with questions about what you did.
The impending panic attack
You play it cool with your friends and eventually go off to be by yourself. That’s when the panic attack almost happens.
Calling your friend crying
You finally admit to yourself that it’s a big deal, that it’s not good, and that you need to talk about it. You call one of the friends (you know, one of the friends whom you told it’s no big deal) crying your eyes out. You apologize for not taking her warning seriously. You say you do need to talk about it.
Wondering if it could be back on
Then, naturally, you begin to wonder if you’re supposed to get back with the ex. Was this a sign? Was this some cosmic event? Was it bound to happen? Was it your subconscious dragging you back to him because he’s your soul mate?
Realizing that it shouldn’t be back on
Okay, okay—you know you’re being nuts. No, you should not get back with the ex. You broke up for a reason. You weren’t even really missing him…and if you were, you still knew you weren’t good together.
Wondering why you did that
So, if you don’t want to be back with the ex, why did you do that? It was a symptom of something—you were acting out for some reason. What reason? What is off balance in your life? You know you have some serious self-reflection to do, and possibly a visit to your therapist’s office.
Freaking about STDs or pregnancy
Gulp. Oh riiiight. You don’t really know what he’s been up to (or whom he has been inside of) since you broke up. If you didn’t use condoms (which you probably didn’t because you fell back into that state of comfort you had in your relationship), you’re worried.
Drawing a hard line if he wants you back
If your ex had been pining for you and trying to get you back, then you have an additional mess on your hands. This definitely sent him the wrong signal. You have to have a conversation with him, apologizing, and explaining it is not back on.
Planning dates with new people
You plan several dates with new people to give yourself the chance to clean your palate of the ex.