People have sex for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes it’s just to have an orgasm; sometimes it’s to make babies; sometimes it’s to connect on a deeper level with another human being. I’d venture a guess that our reasons for having sex are even more varied than the many, many different sex acts that humans are capable of — which is saying a lot, because if there’s one thing that distinguishes the human race it’s our ability to imagine. Seriously, take a second to think about all of the different reasons you’ve had sex over the past few months. There’s a lot of variety in there, right?
But here’s the thing: I bet there are a couple of times in your memory when, in retrospect, you’re realizing you had sex for the wrong reasons. That’s because we all make mistakes — it’s another essential human quality — and we definitely make mistakes when it comes to sex. Sometimes those mistakes are small, like faking an orgasm, and sometimes they’re big, like sleeping with a friend’s significant other. However, you can minimize those ugh feelings by assessing what mistakes you made, why you made them, and resolving to not make them again in the future.
Once you’ve done that, take a look at this list of eight reasons when you definitely shouldn’t have sex. They’ll help you make better decisions in the future.
1. You’re Being Pressured
If you don’t want to have sex but someone is pushing you to have sex with them, you’re probably not going to feel great about it later. At the more extreme end of the spectrum, pressure can even evolve into sexual assault and rape, at which point “not going to feel great about it later” becomes the understatement of the year. Advocating for yourself in these moments is hard but it’s so, so worth it. Risk that moment of uncomfortableness by saying “No” and getting the hell out of dodge so that you’ll feel a whole lot better later.
2. You Want To Look Cool
I think this one is especially an issue for younger folks, although it definitely pops up later in life too. When all of your friends are talking about the sex they’re having and you’re not currently doing it yourself, it can be tempting to do it just so that you look cool. Don’t do it! Only have sex when you’re ready to have it and with the person or people you want to have it with. Looking cool isn’t worth feeling crappy.
3. You Think It Makes You A Good Feminist
This is a mistake I definitely made when I was a young sex-positive feminist — and one that I think a lot of young and newly minted sex-positive ladies make. When you’ve first discovered the idea that sex isn’t shameful, it can feel like a political act to go have it as much as possible. And if that’s what you’re into — awesome! But if you’re doing it not because it’s what feels good but because you think it’s what you “should” do to be a better feminist, then you got the message wrong. Sex-positivity is about enjoying our sexualities without shame, not about banging as many people as possible.
4. You Think It Makes You A Good Wife
On the flip side, women have been taught for a very long time that having sex is our “duty.” While I do think that it is the job of people of all genders to care about their partner’s pleasure, you shouldn’t ever have sex solely because you think it’s your obligation to do so. If you’re doing it just to show that you’re a good wife or girlfriend and you’re not getting pleasure out of it yourself, it’s time to reassess your relationship.
5. You Don’t Have Protection
Having sex without protection — whatever that means for you, personally — is a sure way to catch a case of sex regret. Whether it’s that deep dread when you wait for STI results to come back or the creeping suspicion that you might have gotten pregnant before you were ready, you’re going to feel bad about it. This one usually comes with a double dose of ugh, too, because we often beat ourselves up for agreeing to sex without protection. You know what you need to do. You know how to protect yourself. Remember that old adage from the ‘90s: No glove, no love.
6. You Want Revenge
Sure, plenty of gripping movies revolve around the plot twist of someone sleeping with someone’s husband or bedding someone else’s ex. But do you want your life to be that kind of gripping movie? Ummmm, no. Wanting to get back at someone for something they did to you should never be a reason for having sex with someone. You’ll hurt yourself, your friend, and the person you’ve gone to bed with. Just don’t do it.
7. You Feel Bad For Someone
Pity f*cking might feel good in the moment but it sure feels like crap afterward. If you feel bad for someone, do something nice for them like buying their next drink or taking them out to lunch. Don’t rub your genitals with theirs — it’s a recipe for disaster.
8. You Started It And Think You Have To Finish It
Sometimes people continue with sex because they think that once they’ve started the process, they have to go “all the way.” However, you have the right to stop at any point, regardless of the consent you gave earlier. If at any point you start to feel uncomfortable, stop the sex. You do not — I repeat do not — have to do anything you don’t want to do.
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (8)