Popular culture has recently publicized a seemingly new postbreakup behavior called breakup sex. While the media expresses the benefits of participating in breakup sex, there is no research to support these claimed benefits. The current research was designed to begin to better understand this postbreakup behavior. In the first study, we examined how past breakup sex experiences made the individuals feel and how people predict they would feel in the future (n = 212). Results suggested that men are more likely than women to have felt better about themselves, while women tend to state they felt better about the relationship after breakup sex. The second study (n = 585) investigated why men and women engage in breakup sex. Results revealed that most breakup sex appears to be motivated by three factors: relationship maintenance, hedonism, and ambivalence. Men tended to support hedonistic and ambivalent reasons for having breakup sex more often than women. The two studies revealed that breakup sex may be differentially motivated (and may have different psychological consequences) for men and women and may not be as beneficial as the media suggests.
Moran, James; Wade, T. Joel; and Murray, Damian. "the Psychology of Breakup Sex: Exploring the Motivational Factors and Affective Consequences of Post-breakup Sexual Activity." (2020) .