It may not be a good idea— in fact, it may be a really bad one— but so many of us have gone back for sex with an ex.

There’s usually no good reason why. At best, it’s just a case of getting it out of our system. At worst, it’s often trying to rekindle something that really should just be left to slowly burn out.

But don’t feel bad, because it’s such a ridiculously common mistake to make. And, hey, sometimes it genuinely is just fun. Sometimes.

So if you can’t control the urge for one last dalliance with someone who you used to be with, make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. There are ways that you can go about it that can help it be fun, sexy, and not a total emotional train wreck.

It’s all about being on the same page, keeping things clear, and having fun. If that all works, then it can be a really sexy hookup. Here’s what you need to remember:

Don’t Expect It To Be The Same

If some time has passed, you can’t expect it to be exactly the same as it used to be. People change so much sexually— each partner informs and shapes us. And maybe you’ve both just gotten some more skills since you last had sex. In any case, don’t be surprised if it feels like something new and exciting, just try to roll with it.

Have Fun With It

The best part of sex with an ex is that you know each other really well, so have fun going back to familiar territory. Use that familiarity to experiment, surprise each other, and just play around. It becomes this great, weird, multi-layered experience— a mix of how you used to have sex and all of the things you’ve both learned since then. It should be fun, after all.

Set Ground Rules  

The best way to deal with sex with your ex is to decide beforehand what it means. Is this just a random hookup? Is it a sign of getting back together?

You may think it’s clear, but you really don’t want any nasty surprises. Talking it through beforehand can help make sure that no feelings getting hurt. I know that it’s not the sexiest thing in the world, but it can do you a lot of good. And if you realize that you’re not on the same page, you can stop before feelings get hurt.

Or At Least Decide What It Means Before You Leave

OK, so sometimes we get swept away in the moment and don’t talk things through first— especially with something as messy as sex with an ex. Don’t panic, just make sure that you talk it out before you leave. You don’t want to walk away left in limbo and not sure what it all means. You’ll just spend the next 3 days staring at your phone. So sort it out.

Choose Your Ex Carefully  

So if it’s the love of your life or someone who really messed you up, they’re probably a bad option for ex sex. But as a general rule, exes that are further back are people that you’re more likely to be over. That makes them much better sex candidates. It can be more like a fun trip down memory lane.

Plus, you can show off how much better you’ve both gotten in bed.

Don’t Do It Because They’re Promising Something

This is super important. Never have sex with an ex just because they’re promising you something.

If you want to get back together and they know that, make sure that they’ve shown they actually want to get back together in some other ways. Don’t just hop right back in the sack. Especially if they’ve had a history of being selfish and messing with you, just make sure you’re protecting yourself. If you’re cool with a random hookup then totally go for it, but if you want something more...you need to get some reassurance first.

Didn’t Go Well? Just Shake It Off

If you both have a great time, can high five each other and move on, then that’s great.

But what if didn’t go how you planned?

If you’re left feeling weird or confused— maybe even just regretting it and feeling silly for going back there— don’t beat yourself up. Seriously. Even if you believed that they wanted to get back together and now it’s all gone wrong, it’s not your fault. Like I said, it’s so, so common. We’ve all been there.

So instead...just try to shake it off. Sure, maybe it was a mistake, but mistakes are totally fine if you learn from them. You just keep doing you.

Having sex with an ex is one of the most common mistakes we’ve all made. And the truth is, it’s not always a mistake. Just make sure that you’re both being open with each other and you’re on the same page about what you expect to get out of it.

Then, it can be a really fun sexual experiment— with no strings attached.