We all gravitate towards things we know are naughty. Whether it’s chocolate for breakfast, touching wet paint or hooking up with a colleague, the more wrong something feels, the more we want to do it. Hooking up with an ex is no different. But are we just hoes for the drama or is there more than meets the stiffy when it comes to this destructive behaviour?

Mitch Hibberd and Tina Provis won Love Island 2021, broke up a few months later in February 2022, and then Mitch slept with fellow Islander Emily Ward. If you don’t want any spoilers for the current season, skip the next paragraph.

Tina came in hot in the 2022 villa pretending she couldn’t give two shits about the reunion, but, with help from Mitch, the pair quickly started reminiscing on their feelings and attraction towards one another. After the secret tongue-punching that ensued, Mitch’s apparent boner reminded me of what a hot bloody mess it is to revisit the path frequently taken.

So many people claim to hate their previous partner (there’s even an option on Tinder that lets you block your ex) yet act a little differently when confronted with a trip down memory lane. The toxicity of it all is so relatable.

Whether you’ve yearned for an ex to tell you they made a mistake or have just craved one more ride on the sexy merry-go-round, you can’t deny that rules are made to be broken when it comes to exes that, at some point or another, have had a firm influence on your emotions.

Even when someone royally hurts our feelings, it isn’t beyond us to go back for seconds. And there are a few choice reasons for this beyond a fuckfest-filled reunion.

You know exactly what you’re getting with an ex. Questions about whether or not they’re a good kisser or if they’re going to do that thing you like have already been answered — better the devil you know, you know?

Such familiarity can be an even stronger pull when you’re downright lonely or exhausted with getting to know people from scratch. Remember COVID lockdowns? The temptation to hit up every ex was real.

Being single and whipping out your dating CV time and time again can be a lot, and sometimes it’s more fun and liberating to jump back in with someone who already knows you. The chemistry is there. You know that.

And just because you broke up, it doesn’t mean the intimacy wasn’t great. Hooking up with an ex is almost this disillusion that you can play to your relationship’s strengths without having to deal with the emotions or logistics that brought your union to an end. And sex can be really damn good without emotion. But is there really such a thing when it comes to an ex?

A more complex element of hooking up with an ex is the sense of control, especially for the person who was broken up with. Hooking up with an ex can prove to yourself that you can still “get” them. That you still have some kind of power over them. That kind of thinking is obviously not productive and points to bigger issues, even if you can’t avoid what’s going on in your mind.

But it also presents an opportunity to rewrite the narrative. To shift the outcome of your story as it stands. Did they cheat on you? If you get back together, you have a chance for that to be a background of the story rather than the main theme. To change your relationship to a successful one rather than a failure.

Of course the problematic part of this is that you may end up feeling worse than you did the first time around — because it happened again with little change in the overall results. But humans are weird and uncertainty does things to us. Risks either equate to success or failure at the other end.

It’s the unlikely odds that are so appealing to us, because if it goes in the right direction then you’ve defied the stats. Whether that’s Bennifer-levels or simply coming out unscathed after meeting your needs, the ideal outcome is debatable.

One big predicament is knowing what you and the other person want out of it. But oxytocin is one hell of a hormone. Even if you thought you knew what you wanted going in, you might feel very differently coming out of it.

Chantelle Schmidt is a freelance writer. You can follow her here.

Image: Nine