Everything in life is a learning experience, even bad sex. Perhaps especially bad sex. There are those people you've slept with who seemed like perfectly good ideas at the time, but who, in hindsight, were clearly bound to be terrible partners. Those people, despite all of our best efforts to keep them off our roster, exist. And then there are those people you've slept with who seemed like perfectly terrible ideas at the time, and who completely lived up to their promise—they were the worst. In fact, looking back, doesn't it kind of seem like sex partners who ended up being good ideas are painfully few and far between? Although the regrettable sexperiences might make you cringe now, these notches on your bedpost don’t have to be stuffed down a memory hole labeled “bad ideas”. You can—nay, should—pull them out, study them, and learn something valuable about yourself and what you want. (Like how I mentioned "stuffing things down holes"? Here all night, folks.)
For your convenience, I’ve put together a list of six lessons you can learn from sleeping with the wrong people, but before I get into it, I must address the first order of business: Please don’t do yourself and your past partners to utterly useless disservice of feeling ashamed, and don’t feel stupid. People make mistakes all the time in every aspect of their lives, but mistakes that have to do with sex have the power to shred one’s sense of self into teeny, tiny, sad little pieces. (It doesn’t help that the world is a particularly cruel judge of women’s sex lives.) So regardless of the partners you’ve picked or the decisions that you possibly regret, show yourself some compassion, give yourself a hug, try to learn, and move forward. We’re all wandering around blindly here; all any of us can to is try our best.
1. You learn to speak up about what you want, romantically and sexually
After a few awkward experiences in the sack, you learn that only you can advocate for yourself. If you’re not happy with how something is going, speak up. If there is something you want, ask for it. Your sexual partners aren’t mind readers; you’ve got to communicate your desires. (If you are communicating about what you want/what you’re OK with/what your limits are, and your partner isn’t listening to you, get yourself out of there.) It's usually only by dating people who don't tend to your needs (or who maybe don't even care about them) that you finally end up learning to demand someone who will—and not to settle for anyone who won't.
2. You learn what you don’t want, which can help you figure out what you do want
A bad experience can be a valuable learning tool. Identifying the things that don’t work for you in a sexual partner can help you to identify the things that do work. Think about the negative aspects of your last “wrong partner” and then try to articulate the opposite. If that person drove you crazy by skipping, like, any solid semblance of foreplay, then you know that in the future you’re looking for someone who loves the preliminaries.
3. These experience can help you find patterns—and break them
Have you ever looked back on your sexual partners and realized that somehow you’ve managed to sleep with the same person over and over? It’s only when you recognize that you have the habit of going for the same bad traits again and again that you can break the cycle. Think about what it is about these people that keeps attracting you, and make a conscious effort to look for the opposite next time.
4.You learn to be more discerning
It’s easy to be seduced (literally) by looks or flash or that fuzzy feeling in your stomach, but with experience, you learn to see past those superficial qualities and find the real person underneath. And most importantly, you learn to figure out whether or not you want to bone the person underneath before you actually get naked with them. Growing up is magic!
5. You learn to have an open mind
It’s easy to get stuck in a habit of dating the same person over and over (See also #3), but sleeping with the wrong people can teach you to have an open mind about who the right people might be. If you have a “type,” and that type isn’t working, give some consideration to people you might have looked over in the past.
6. In short, by sleeping with the wrong people, you learn to sleep with the right people
Negative experiences can be (very, disturbingly) painful, but they can also lead you to the positive ones: to sexual partners with whom you can have happy, life-affirming, orgasm-inducing experiences.
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