Dear Madame Lestrange,
I’m still in college, so I’ve only been in one relationship where I was sexually active. The fact that it ended very badly and I don’t like my ex anymore makes it feel all types of wrong and shameful, and I regret it a lot.
It’s scaring me off of being sexually intimate with someone I currently like. I don’t want to regret it in the same way, but I do genuinely like him and want to be closer. I feel really conflicted about what to do.
Help me, please!
For people who want to have sex, becoming sexually active is an important time. We learn new things about ourselves, our partners, and how we want to explore intimacy, and this can be both liberating and isolating. Some of us find ourselves with partners that we feel we can be with forever, and who respect the vulnerability we consent to. But in some cases, we end up with partners who are just a phase, or, in your words, a regret.
The truth is that almost everyone goes through this in some way or another. For two human beings to be together in a solid, happy relationship forever is pretty bonkers if you think about it – we all have our flaws and then we choose to experience them with the same person for a lifetime. That’s a lot of commitment! But if and when it does work out, it’s magical beyond all possibilities.
As the old saying goes, you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet your prince/princess, but that process should not feel shameful in any way. You may have multiple sexual partners before you choose to “settle down,” if you choose to at all, and nothing about that makes you a bad person. Women, in particular, are constantly made to feel like they need to keep the number of their sexual partners low in order to still be considered “decent,” or not labeled a “slut,” and this is wrong on so many levels. The patriarchy makes us feel like we are only as valuable as the number of penises we allow into our bodies, but the truth is so damn different. We are the only ones who can dictate how we run our lives.
Your relationship with your ex may not have been perfect, and it can hurt, but don’t regret it. Life tends to throw us a number of good, bad, and mundane obstacles that teach us important lessons about ourselves and what we expect from others. Your previous relationship teaches you what you want and don’t want about your next relationship, and so on.
If you feel comfortable being intimate with your new beau, and both of you are consenting adults, I say go for it. Sure, you two may not be together for the rest of your lives, but you are an important moment to one another right now, and I say you should enjoy that as you want.
So my advice is: don’t be ashamed of your sexual history, have no regrets, learn from your mistake, and live in whatever way makes you happy. You are the only person who dictates your own life, so go forth and enjoy it!
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