How Common is it to Hook Up With an Ex?

Apparently Rihanna and Drake aren’t the only young lovers to break up and make up … and break up and make up again. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin and Bowling Green State University wanted to know just how common it is for young folks to be in on-again/off-again relationships or to hook up with their exes.

To find out, they recruited over 1,300 students in 7th, 9th, and 11th grades in Toledo, Ohio, who participated in a study beginning in 2001. Most of the participants stayed in the study until 2007, when they were between the ages of 17 and 24. At that point, 60 percent reported having been in a romantic relationship within the last two years. Just over half (54 percent) of those who’d been in a relationship reported that they’d ever had sex.

Baby, can we give it one more try?

The researchers found that 44% of couples who broke up had gotten back together again. They also found that among couples who had ever had sex, 27 percent reported having sex with an ex. More than half of those who had sex with an ex also reported having sex with someone else around the time of the breakup.

Not surprisingly, the longer a relationship lasted, the more likely the participants were to have a break up, reconciliation, or sex with an ex. Having lots of disagreements and yelling at each other was also related to breaking up, reconciling and having sex with an ex.

Among older folks, rates of getting back together and having sex with an ex are much lower than in this study. These experiences may be part of learning about relationships and what we want from our partners.

The takeaway

Considering that other research has found that knowing your partner well makes sex better, maybe it’s not surprising that folks are tempted to make up — or just hook up — after a breakup. But hooking up with an ex comes with its own risks, as the researchers pointed out. When you’re comfortable with someone, it can be tempting to slack on protecting against STIs — which can be especially risky if one or both partners are seeing other people, too.

So if you find yourself reconnecting with an old flame for another go — or just for another night — by all means, bring back the old tricks that made things hot. But when it comes to protecting yourself from STIs and pregnancy, we suggest acting like it’s the first time.


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Originally published on

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Magdalena J.
Magdalena C.about a year ago

Thank you!

Darren Woolsey
Darren Woolseyabout a year ago

Distance is what came between my exes and myself, and Fight/Flight/Reunite is not going to happen without considerable effort from the other side. . .

Phil M.
Phil M.about a year ago

Not going to happen .....

Chad Anderson
Chad Andersonabout a year ago

I have never ended things until they were really over for me and then they have really been over.

Anteater Ants
Anteater Antsabout a year ago

well said, Mm

Teresa W.
Teresa W.about a year ago

However common, it's just stupid.

Mm M.
MmAWAY M.about a year ago

Not in this Century! TU,but, gag no thx

Danuta Watola
Danuta Watolaabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

Alan Lambert
Alan` Lambertabout a year ago

Karen's got a great quote and my surmise is that the younger you are, the more likely it is.

I had someone who still loved me but we couldn't ever have worked as a couple (and we stayed friends after breaking up) offer to get back with me if I would dump someone she thought was wrong for me. Welllllllll...maybe I should have done that, but without the one who was wrong for me, I wouldn't have my son.

Worth twice the price.

Robert O.
Robert O.about a year ago

Probably more common than many people realize.