Breakup Sex

Do You Hear What I'm Telling You?

Breakup sex, bonus sex, sex with the ex—whatever you call it, it's part of any healthy relationship. The last part.

But does it count as breakup sex if you don't quite grasp that you've broken up?

We'd last made love in January, and now it was April. Okay, so we were going through a little something. Even I realized that, no matter how hard I'd been trying not to admit exactly what it was.

"Do you hear what I'm telling you?" she asked me, exasperated, sometime in mid-March.

"Yes, yes, I hear you," I answered very quickly, cutting off her chance to explain, clinging to the thin, fraying strings of misunderstanding—the only things that were holding us together.

But that was then, and now she was riding in my car, and I was driving south on Coast Highway. We were heading toward a weekend in a waterfront hotel near San Juan Capistrano. I'd asked her to come away with me, pretty much the way I'd been asking her for three months—except this time, she said yes. Along the way, she asked me to pull over, suggesting we stop for date shakes at that little shack on the sunny bluff overlooking the shimmering ocean. We fed the squirrels even though you're not supposed to. We couldn't help ourselves. Hell, we hadn't made love since January, and now it was April. We had gone through a little something, okay? And now we were getting to it, and it was so much more than okay.

We did it before dinner, our pent-up lust mixing with the salt air and bright sun streaming through the hotel window. We did it when we returned from the restaurant, where we had simmered through a couple of sets by a Brazilian jazz quartet. We did it after Saturday Night Live, and we did it Sunday morning. And after we'd driven back home, we did it again—on the bed where we'd done it the first time we ever did it. But we never did it again. The next day, she broke up with me. At least, that's how I thought it went down.

A couple of years later, we ran into each other. The pain was pretty much gone, enough so that we could reminisce pretty happily about our relationship. We'd both moved on, and we both agreed we'd been good for each other. Finally, we both admitted we would always feel a little tender sadness when we remembered the moment it ended.

"I still think about it," I told her, "at the end of every April."

"The end of April?" she asked, confused. "But we broke up in early January."

Sex Was Never the Problem

I hadn't even seen him for five years, but when he arrived at my back door that hot July night, it was as though only five seconds had passed. There were no formalities. I didn't even turn on the lights. We went straight to my unmade bed, both knowing it would be the last time. We had dated for a year and a half, and we were wild about each other, but our timing was always off. I pursued him more than the other way around. Finally, when I got sick of it and found someone else, he suddenly fell madly in love with me. Sex was never the problem. We were always hot for each other. We screwed everywhere: in a coat closet at the Long Beach Sheraton, on a hillside in Catalina, against Yosemite's El Capitan and in every room of his house. I'm debating about whether to mention the time in the parking lot at the Renaissance Faire because that just got so gross, coming as it did after eating those gigantic turkey legs.

For a couple of hours that July night, time stood still, and the freedom of being apart made us more whole than ever before. We fucked like we had demons inside us. We bent our bodies in every position imaginable. We told each other we had fantasized about this for years, and it was true. When we were finally drenched with sweat, we shared the most passionate and intimate kiss. Sometimes I wonder if I dreamed it. I haven't seen or talked with him since. But I have often thought of that kiss. It was the expression of our connection that put us, finally, on the same page—in loving sync with the knowledge that what we had was not going any further.

It Was Almost Good

We were friends in junior high, but it wasn't until high school that we started dating. In the fall of our senior year, I received a large sum of money—reparation for the wrongful death of my father when I was a child. After graduation, my boyfriend had to leave for basic training, and while he was away that summer, his mother (an evil, manipulative, emasculating woman) mishandled the family's finances and lost their house. When he was kicked out of the Army for failing his exams, his family was looking at homelessness, and I offered to let him live with me for a couple of months until his family pulled things together. That "couple of months" turned into a year, a year during which I worked two jobs and went to school full time while he played video games, watched professional wrestling and looked at porn on the Internet. I cooked, cleaned and gave over to his every whim and desire, physically and financially. He moped, produced hot air from a number of orifices and left me notes occasionally, saying he felt I was "neglecting" him. That winter, I got an eviction notice for letting him live there rent-free. In a year, I had blown $40,000 and didn't know what I was going to do. One night when I was feeling particularly stressed about everything, he came to me with that look in his eyes (and his pants). I gave in with great reluctance. But instead of being inconsiderate and rough as he always was—with his wrestling moves, heavy-handed groping and porn-style, Olympic thrusting—he was very nearly affectionate; it was almost good. And as we lay there in the aftermath, he said, "I'm moving out. And after I move, I think we should take a break and not see each other so much."

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