Should I start hooking up with my ex again?

Hi Meredith!

My ex and I dated for four and a half years and were engaged. We had the entire wedding planned, and about five months out from the wedding, I told him I wasn't sure about getting married because I felt we had some things to work out before we said "I do." He wanted to break up because he felt blindsided, and I wanted to work it out because I loved him.

Two months later, he messaged a girl from his work late night from my Facebook page. He didn’t realize that I was logged into his computer. We broke up and he moved out. Two or three weeks go by and we causally start hookup up. Terrible choice, I know. I was so confused and thought I still loved him and was feeling so vulnerable. We hooked up on and off for about a year before he got into a serious relationship. A couple of years have gone by and he just got out of said relationship. We started causally catching up and without intending to, hung out and hooked up again.

I don't have feelings for him, but like the attention. I haven't been able to find someone new since our breakup so I was feeling a little needy. He wants to hook up again, but I'm just so torn. I'm lonely and could definitely use the affection and attention, but ultimately I know that affection is only temporary and mostly for hookup purposes only. I got a little tipsy the other night and sent him some nudes, which I know was a bad idea but it felt sexy and nice to turn someone on. How can I be strong to tell him no, and in a nice, respectful way? Or should I just say "whatever" and have fun?

– Attention

I'm going to say the responsible thing (sorry). I don't think you should start hooking up with your ex again. It sounds like it's bad for both of you – or just you, at the very least.

You can't be all "whatever" about this and have fun. If you could, you wouldn't have written this letter. Hooking up with him has made it clear that you'd really like to meet someone new. That means every time you're with him, you'll be reminded of what you don't have. I understand the attention is nice, but it isn't a no-strings-attached relationship. There are many strings, and they're all attached to memories and disappointments.

It shouldn't be too difficult to tell him this has to stop. All you need to say is that as tempting as it is, you'd rather not fall back into what you had. You don't want to stand in the way of his next steps, and vice versa. You're comfortable together but that doesn't mean it's right.

It’s time to do the work – and it is work – to look for someone new. I'm sure you've tried a bunch of things, but if you haven't told people in your life that you're looking, please do. That can help.

– Meredith

Readers? Can the LW be casual about this?