With intimacy, we’d love to in infallible. We can dream! Instead, let’s step into our power to cultivate love and self-awareness from imagined sex mistakes.
Sex. We all know it can be this a wonderful, exciting, exotic, and powerful thing; but getting to that point often requires making some “mistakes” that shed a not-so-fabulous light on our developing sexuality—as in, more awkward and heart-crushing than exciting or wonderful. I’ve shed a few tears and held back myself from slapping a few faces in my own story. Overall, I can’t say I have any regrets, but if I could go back to give the old me some advice, I’d share these sex mistakes as a way to love and nurture my youthful self back onto the right track.
Using Sex Esteem as Self Esteem
I grew up seeing women prancing around in tiny outfits, busty bustiers, and fancy push-up bras with matching underwear. Because of the subconscious ideas I acquired through society and my upbringing, I thought sex appeal was EVERYTHING. My self-worth was tied to being desirable, so the more heads I turned, the more I mattered.
Which also goes to say that the fewer heads I turned, the less I mattered.
I thought being “somebody” meant being sexy and attractive. Because of this, I shared myself intimately with a man or two I would have never consciously chosen to be with. But because I felt being attractive meant everything, I didn’t really see there being any other choice but to go to the bedroom. Back then, I didn’t matter. I had no concerns about being respected, valued, or appreciated—what mattered was being “bangable.” So even though I seemed bed-worthy to someone who saw me as another notch in the bedpost, I was willing to take the risk in hopes of feeling like a somebody, except I only ever walked away as a nobody.
Taking Mr. Next Instead of Waiting for Mr. Right(ish)
I grew up without a solid father figure, so when I came of age I didn’t know what qualities I wanted in a man. I also didn’t know which behaviors should raise red flags. Combine that with my lust-based self esteem inspired by society, and you have a recipe for remorse.
There was so much I didn’t know; it never occurred to me that I should be looking for a partner who aligns with me. Instead, I pretty much went for any guy who was gutsy enough to express interest in me. Fortunately, I had a low-key lifestyle so I didn’t get out a lot, but I still made decisions that made no sense on a heart-level. If I could guide my younger self all over again, I would advise against taking an interest in someone simply because they had interest in me. The decision should have been about my needs and my wants. I would have saved myself confusion, regret, and embarrassment.
Wishing for What Could Be Instead of Seeing What Was
As previously mentioned, I’ve had a sexual encounter or two I could have done without. Part of that stemmed from feeling that I needed to act on any decent male who expressed interest in me—“Look! Somebody likes me!”—but it was also due to a lot of grand ideas and preconceived notions floating around in my still-developing sense of self.
You see, I wanted to feel pretty, and appreciated, and thought of, and looked after. I wanted to have someone give a damn and show me I was important. I knew I wanted that, and I wanted it so badly. So even though I was around someone who made it quite clear they were NOT that guy, I was blind to it. I believed if I gave myself to them, they would see the amazing person I was and would ultimately give me everything my heart and soul craved.
And so I would. I would give myself to them.
But I never got what I longed for because I was sharing myself with a person who wasn’t capable of what I wanted. Had I been looking at the situation for what it was instead of for what I wanted it to be, I would have saved myself a lot of trouble and many hurt feelings.
Thinking “Me” Instead of “We”
My relationship with my husband allowed me to put my old mistakes behind me, but I still had another mistake ahead of me. I became driven by the idea that our sex life should be out of this world and I resolved to addressing everything that could benefit from little tweaks of improvement.
Open and assertive communication seemed like a great idea, but I was so stuck thinking about what I was getting from sex that I never bothered to ponder what I was contributing. I really meant well, but I gave feedback that made two big mistakes: 1) I focused on what I wasn’t getting along what was “wrong” with our sex and 2) I actually verbalized this to him.
I realized later that this was a horrible mistake.
Men are notorious for their pride with bed matters, and my husband was no exception. On top of the usual male-female confusions, my husband comes from Africa—a continent that’s as beautiful and complex as it is misunderstood—and our differences in upbringing had us baffled with each other at times.
Gender and cultural differences aside, I went about doing this wrong. Had my husband asked for feedback it would have been one thing; instead, I turned great sex into a mission. Our love life was already fantastic with just little things we could learn or try but—while I knew this—my approach to sex had created an awkward environment. I had provoked him into feeling insecure and vulnerable, and that definitely didn’t help bedroom matters.
Going about “better sex” the way I did only made things worse because I was focused on what I wasn’t getting while he was stuck bedding a partner who made him feel inadequate… and that isn’t healthy or helpful for anyone.
I’ve come a long ways with the way I approach sex and it’s better now than I could have ever imagined. But it’s not just the sex that’s better, it’s the way I feel about myself.
Now I value who I am, I appreciate my body, and I make sure that the needs of my heart and soul are met. Sex no longer determines who I am. Instead, it’s an expression of every wonderful thing there is about me. I see myself as sacred, and I treat sex as such now too. And that allows sex to uplift me and to enrich my relationship with my partner as well as myself.
So, if I could tell you to do one single thing to improve your sex life, I would say, like you for you. Once you can be comfortable and confident in your own skin and can advocate for your own heart, your sex life is going to blow through the roof. I’ll guarantee it.
About the Author
Ash Stevens is a mother, writer, and a wannabe shaman. She loves health, gardening, simplicity, culture, chocolate, and sarcasm. If she isn’t writing or talking family and relationships on her blog, then she’s surely playing badminton with the kids. Find her on Twitter or Facebook and make a new friend!