Depending on how long you’ve been apart, having sex with an ex can seem like a terrific idea. You’ve already mastered the closeness aspect; you know each other’s bodies in ways that a one-night encounter wouldn’t, and you have all that history. There is a lot of history. Which, to be honest, could be a negative thing.

While many people believe that sleeping with an ex is terrible for you, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Sleeping with an ex can be a wonderful and, in some situations, gratifying experience for some people. That is, if you are prepared for the feelings, likely perplexity, and inquiries that will accompany it.

“Revisiting the sexual element of the relationship can help settle some of the past hurt,” says Clarissa Silva, a behavioral scientist, relationship counselor, and the creator of Your Happiness Hypothesis Method. But, on the other hand, having sex with an ex isn’t always a positive thing.

Here are seven things you should be aware of before sleeping with your ex.

Positive: Idealization

When a relationship ends, it’s tempting to romanticize your previous lover. It’s as though selective memory kicks in and prevents you from seeing the truth. When enough time has gone, it becomes almost instinctive to romanticize the past: both the relationship and your former spouse. However, having sex with an ex can help dispel that delusory notion and jolt reality back into your bones.

“Sometimes we let our prior relationships prevent us from having future partnerships and happiness,” Silva explains. “When such is the case, looking back in order to move forward might occasionally reveal that we have idealized the relationship.”

Although it may not be obvious at the time, while you and your ex are rolling around in the sheets, something will most likely come up and remind you of a very crucial fact: you split up for a reason.

Denial is negative.

If you’re still thinking about and feeling for your ex, hoping that everything would work out, then having sex with an ex is a horrible decision. Bad-bad, not good-horrible — like, so bad that if you sleep with them, you can kiss any prospect of getting over your ex goodbye.

“Hoping that sex with your ex will restart your relationship is a recipe for disappointment,” Silva says. “It’s possible that the flaws in the relationship that led to the separation were not sexual.”

It only takes one night of sex with an ex to put you back on track in your recovery. Your heart is more valuable than a roll in the hay, especially if it belongs to someone you can’t get over.

Positive: safety

As much as people may wish to ignore this reality, sleeping with an ex provides security that sex with a one-night stand does not. There is safety, familiarity, and the sense that you are returning home.

“A breakup causes self-doubt, rage, rumination, and diminished self-esteem, making us feel less appealing to others,” Silva explains. “Sex with an ex can sometimes bring a sense of security due to the familiarity and mutual growth you both developed through time.”

According to Silva, because it was your ex and the split that caused those feelings of uncertainty and resentment, having sex with an ex can be a time of empowerment for some. As if you’ve overcome the adversity of the loss and made it to the other side.

Negative: Compromise

When a relationship ends, there is typically a strong reason for it, because happy partnerships do not dissolve on their own. It is with this separation, no matter how painful it is, that you are expected to move forth and upward, as the saying goes. If you don’t, you may revert to old patterns with an ex. And when it comes to ex-partners, patterns are bad because they restrict you from moving forward.

While some may try to persuade themselves otherwise, the truth is that people can only settle for so long before they need to break free and pursue a new challenge.

“Sometimes people convince themselves that [settling] is OK,” Silva explains. “Other times, they realize they want more but don’t think they’ll be able to obtain it.”

As the saying goes, dust settles, not you. Remember this if you find yourself back in bed with an ex.

Orgasms are a plus.

Familiarity breeds knowledge, and knowledge breeds, well, good sex. Actually, scratch that: it comes with wonderful sex. Because perseverance and practice go a long way.

When you’ve known someone so intimately and physically, you’re more likely to be able to climax since you’re at ease. You’re with someone who understands all your money hotspots and just what will make your toes curl. However, with this amazing sex comes the necessity to comprehend the distinction between sex and love.

According to Silva, sex with an ex may be a lot of fun and even gratifying if you keep it to “only aiming for an orgasm.” However, this only works if you don’t want to get back together with your ex. If you’re hoping that the orgasms will lead to something more, such as trying to make the relationship work again, it’s best to avoid them.

Negative: Low self-esteem

It is critical to recognize that having sex with your ex may result in emotional upheaval if you are not both on the same page. If you think sex is one thing and your ex thinks it’s something entirely other, it’ll do more harm than good to both of you.

“While [sex with an ex] may appear to be a harmless idea at first, your ex may find someone else and leave you again,” Silva warns. “If it is difficult to resist ex-sex, psychologically prepare yourself for the detachment and have a discussion about being on the same page regarding the encounters.”

Accept the fact that the rug could be yanked out from under you at any time. Stay away from sleeping with your ex if you can’t accept it and know you’re not strong enough to suffer another round of disappointment. Instead, acquire a vibrator – a vibrator will never let you down.

The closure is a plus.

Similar to putting a stop to idealization, having sex with an ex, whether once or several times, can help you get the closure you seek. It’s like tying up loose ends, emphasizing that even though you still have feelings for each other, you were correct to split ways.

“Sometimes we idealize our ex-partners because we haven’t found a replacement or don’t want to go through the dating process,” Silva explains. “In those moments, it’s easy to romanticize your ex and the relationship. Sex with your ex can help you understand why you choose to stay apart.”

It’s also crucial to remember, especially for romantics, that simply because you and your ex don’t make sense right now, you never know what the future holds. But, even more importantly, sex with an ex will not hasten the arrival of the future.

When it comes to having sex with an ex, it is critical to proceed with caution. It can be a slippery slope, so be sure you know how you feel about them, what your expectations are for the situation, and, ideally, where you want to end up. You can’t keep sleeping with your ex forever because you’ll get trapped in a rut even if you’re over them. A situation like this can prevent you from finding another connection that is more than just sex. Unless, of course, you’re only interested in sex at this stage in your life. It is all up to you.