Monday, February 24, 2014

Why I'm Screwed Up: A Brief History of My Sexual Partners

I’ve never had an adult relationship that had both sex AND emotion in proper proportion. Yup, I’m 34-years-old and I don’t remember how to care about a guy and also have sex with him.

I realized this on the first anniversary of my divorce and tears filled my eyes. It was five days after Aaron and I had sex for the first time. 

The more I thought about it, the more I had trouble remembering a time when I had meaningful, lasting sex with, well, anyone in the past decade or so.

Let’s attempt to break down my sexual past and see why I'm screwed up.

Dave – I lost my virginity when I was 18 years old, the summer before I left for college. My boyfriend, Dave, and I were madly, adorably in love with each other. Unfortunately I wasn’t entirely sure I lost my virginity because it was over so fast. (By the way, I doubt I was a good lay either.)  

Random guys in college and into my early-mid 20s – There were kind of a lot of these. I’m not proud of it, but whatever. If nothing else it meant I was super fun to have breakfast with because I had ridiculous stories. For example:
“You guys, I seriously thought about jumping out the window so no one would see me leaving his room. Do you think I would survive jumping out the third floor window? I might’ve tried if it weren’t for this hangover. I probably would’ve barfed on myself on the way down.”

If I remember correctly, and I probably don’t, I think these encounters were always one-time only occurrences. What can I say, I never had a boyfriend in college, and this girl has needs! (Bear in mind that I didn’t discover masturbation until last  year.) Miraculously, I never got attacked or mugged or contracted an STD. 

Dan – I dated Dan for about four months when I was in grad school. He was smart, sweet, and sexy, and definitely more into me than I was in to him. I held him at arm’s length emotionally because we would be going our separate ways after graduation. But that didn’t stop us from having some pretty decent sex. He was the first guy I slept with regularly since Dan. The next one wouldn't come until Max, two years later.

A few more random guys. For example, the guy whose name I didn't know.

Ivan – Ugh, I hate to even tell you about this experience. Ivan was emotionally manipulative and knew exactly what to  say to break down my walls. He sensed my insecurities and made me forget about them. We dated for six weeks when I was 24 and I fell head over heels for this joker. (So embarrassing.) We had sex once or twice and then he dumped my ass like a bad habit. While he was dumping me and I was a blubbering mess, he actually told me that the next time he had sex with someone, he would make sure that he really cared about her first. Uh, thanks. Glad you have that plan in place. I felt used and stupid.

Max – The first year we were dating, I fell in love with him. I was 25 years old and I embraced being completely vulnerable with a man for the first time. I loved how Max smelled, how he wrapped his arms around me, how his hands felt on my skin. I loved being held afterward as we had those talks that can only happen in that precious space after sex. For the first time -- but only for a short time -- I truly connected sex and love, and it was intoxicating.

But, as you well know, this time was very, very short lived. After the first year, our sex life was never normal again. For the next six years, it was infrequent and eventually non-existent. Sex stressed him out so he always seemed to be biding his time until I would orgasm one time and then roll off of him. Sex was no longer a way to show love for each other, but rather a source of pain, rejection, and conflict. 

If this wouldn't screw with your head and heart, you're a much stronger person than I am!

Cheater – Desperate to get laid after no sex of any kind for three years, I had sex with a guy who I knew had a girlfriend. (I didn't know him or her, but still. Yuck.) I completely removed emotion and went for it. I am proud that I never cheated on Max, but somehow I was fine with being The Other Woman for one night because it was Just Sex.

Jason – Sure, I liked him in the beginning, but he was always my Mr. Right Now. Once I dumped him, I viewed him as my sexual plaything. It was kind of amazing how I could just turn off any semblance of emotion I once had for him. As a result, I realized Incredible Sex was turning me into an asshole.

I'm not so great at math, but I would say I've only had something resembling feelings for about 12% of my partners. Hmmm. A little depressing, no?

Now my sexual past is impacting my sexual present.

With all of this in mind, I think it's safe to say I’m dating Aaron. We have gone out to dinner and to the movies (Frozen!) and last week I met some of his friends. We have stayed in and cooked and watched movies and drank wine. All normal dating things, right?

So here’s where I get FREAKED OUT. (Don’t tell him I get freaked out – I’m hiding my crazy on this one.)

I don’t know how to have sex with someone I like. 

Well, I do, because I am, but I am so unsure of everything! I have no clue how much sex is expected when you’re dating. Do I want too much? or not enough? And is it OK to talk or text about it? or do "nice girls" not do that? Is it normal for me to get really into the sex or am I supposed to be more subdued and gradually show my real sexual self? It’s almost like I don’t understand how I can like a guy AND have hot sex… can the two actually go together?!

You guys, I’m a grown-ass lady but this realization made me feel like a Cosmo-reading teen or something. For a flash, I bitterly thought, “Thanks for fucking me up, Max.” And with that, I shook it off and emailed my therapist to set up my first appointment in months. We’ve got some work to do!

Did you have trouble adjusting to allowing sex and emotion to go together after a hard breakup?

See also: 8 Reasons Divorced Sex Is So Much Better Than Married Sex


  1. I love reading about your sexual adventures because I have none to tell. I'm 31 and have only had sex with one man - my husband. This wasn't a religious choice or pact with myself. He was supposed to be my first college fling after a break up of a 2 year relationship in my teens. But someone how fling never ended and we're still together 12 years later. This sounds romantic, and I guess it is on any levels. But it also cut out all the years of sexual exploration with different partners. So, look on the bright side. You've had lots of experience and lots of adventures. When you find the right one, I bet sex and love will just flow together naturally.

  2. Like Elizabeth, I will live vicariously through you. My suggestion (which you can take for what it's worth, which is probably nothing) - just do what comes naturally and go with the flow. Liking a guy and hot sex can definitely go together - it can make the sex even hotter!

  3. Good question. I'm still to have my first post seperation shag, so I'm ill equipped to answer! :)

  4. Thanks Sandy. :) No, I am fast realizing how much men do, in fact, like and want sex. I seriously didn't know if that was true anymore. I have a lot to think about.

  5. I can't wait to hear about it when you do!!

  6. Sex I'm good with... it's liking the guy that starts to F with my head!

  7. I'm happy to have you "living" with me! Hahaha. We are having good sex, but I'm questioning EVERYTHING. I'm not sure if it's warranted or if it's just my nerves.

  8. Wow, I cannot imagine having only been with one man. Overall, I'm glad I've had the experiences of different guys because it's helped me piece my sexual self together. That said, as you have read, I've also had some pretty shitty experiences too...

  9. I had sex with a few guys I dated while keeping the emotional component out of it. It was really weird at first.

    I'm pretty sure my ex is/was a sex addict. It's possible he had a porn addiction as well but he's not my problem anymore. in January I became concerned when the boyfriend and I didn't have sex for almost 2 weeks (busy & conflicting schedules and neither of us were in the mood). I was worried that it was because he wasn't attracted to me (I was feeling unusually insecure/frumpy). He reassured me that I shouldn't feel pressure to be intimate (he knows about how heavily my ex used to pressure me for sex), that we all have our cycles and that we will enjoy ourselves and each other when we feel like it.

  10. I saw my therapist last night and it was really helpful. I am working on sorting myself out. I would probably benefit from a sexual hiatus myself!