We're taught to stay away from the bedrooms of our exes at all costs, and frequently reminded that nothing that goes on in there post-breakup can ever be a good thing for our mental well-being. But received wisdom of this ilk is being shattered by new findings suggesting that 'ex-sex' can, in some cases, be a good idea.
Divorced partners who have slipped up and fallen back into the marital bed report that sex with an ex can actually lessen the psychological distress caused by the break-up.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, researchers at the University of Arizona examined a group of 137 recently divorced adults and asked how many had had the occasional post-conjugal visit after their divorce papers had been signed. Findings found that most participants (82.5 per cent) remained in contact with their ex after the separation, and almost one-fifth (21.9 per cent) had sex.
Whether or not the ex-sex actually helped a partner get over the end of their marriage depended on how 'over' it they already were. Partners who hadn't accepted the break-up found the intimate encounters actually helped lessen the pain of divorce.
Meanwhile, partners who had accepted the break-up found sex made no difference at all to how they dealt with it, indicating that 'ex-sex' may not be quite as emotionally detrimental as we had previously thought, and that it can, in fact, have benefits for those who are not-quite over their relationship.
Psychologists believe that break-ups can leave us with attachment needs that go unfulfilled, and that sex with an ex helps to provide some sense of security, and at least partial fulfillment of those needs.
A recent survey found that more women than men look back with longing on past relationships and admit to having had better sex with an ex than with their current partner. The survey of 1,100 adults found that 38 per cent of women said the best sex of their lives was in a previous relationship.
Sex and relationship experts say this 'grass is greener' syndrome is not new. Many women benefit from having sex with their ex because it ultimately gives them 'closure' on the relationship.
However, experts warn: 'It's dodgy ground if there's a lot of emotion involved. If a much-loved partner who has left is interested in sex with you it sends of message of hope - and that could be false hope.
'On their side it's a trip down sexual memory lane, on your side, it's make-up sex with a view of rekindling.
'If you're going to do it, make sure you go into it with a clear understanding of what it means to the other person.'