Making bad sexual decisions is, I guess, an almost unavoidable part of growing up. But, just like unhealthy dietary choices, it is also a practice that should preferably be abandoned alongside the days of your youthful carelessness. It is not always clear what constitutes a healthy sex life and when your libido is making you act as if being possessed by a demonic force. So, let’s go through some clues.
Are you in an abusive relationship? Whatever you might think, there is no healthy sex life in an abusive relationship. However, that does not mean great sex does not happen even in such relationships, but with time, abuse erodes our self-respect and the ability to express our sexuality suffers the consequences. And that goes for both parts of the abuse equation. If you suspect something might be off between your partner and yourself, see if you recognize any of these 21 signs of an abusive relationship.
Are you cheating? This is the last place to be judgemental, but there is hardly ever a good reason for infidelity (if you can’t be faithful, better drop monogamy altogether). Sometimes it might occur under understandable circumstances – like a dissolution of an unstable relationship. Other times it’s the pressure of being tempted while physically apart from your partner that makes you cheat. Or you might just give in and taste the forbidden fruit due to a powerful temporary crush.
Even though many cheaters are downright crappy people, the fact that you cheated does not necessarily imply you are an asshole. But do not fool yourself – it is never a good thing. Even if it seems like a solution to a problem you might have (a hard to break relationship, for instance), it is always one of the worst ones. It causes emotional pain, or at least a secret that is lead-heavy to carry through life.
Is your sex life connected to substance abuse? A seemingly simple question is not always easy to answer, because the fabric of our sex life often comes in a series of decisions made without our full awareness. But asking yourself a few questions can help diagnose a problem. For instance; if you look back at your sex life, has it been a long string of one-night stands with people you met in a club or a bar for as long as you can remember? Can you remember the last time you had sex fully sober and generally clean of any intoxicant? If you can’t, it might suggest that you have a problem. As noted before, this blog is a judgment free area; I have a real admiration for the variety of sexual expression and have even met people heavily involved into the chemsex subculture, but with otherwise healthy approach to sex – marked by solid communication with their partners and lots of sober, loving sex.
Then there are those with a seemingly normal life who discover upon introspection they can’t even remember the last time they had sex with their partner without toking or having a glass of wine.
Healthy sex is about conscious choices and direct joyful experiences unmoderated by substances. Everything else should be reserved for special occasions.
Are you addicted to sex? Here’s another confusing question. It is important to understand that having lots of sex with different people does not necessarily imply addiction. Nor can you safely assume you are not a sex addict if your sexual encounters are rare.
Sexual addiction has nothing to do with the availability of partners, and even the internet sex addiction is recognized as a problem. It is about the amount of time, energy and mental capacity you invest into trying to satisfy your sex drive. Is it putting pressure on you? Is it straining your social life and relations with others?
Sex addiction is a part of a wider complex of intimacy disorders nowadays often differentiated as sex and love addiction. I know some profoundly different people that would fit the intimacy disorder profile. One is a bar owner who keeps ruining his relationships by boastfully sleeping around with his clients (and, for that matter, is guilty of all of the above discussed issues). The other is a woman that keeps chasing the ever-fleeting feeling of stomach butterflies with romantic naivete. Both have their lives profoundly shaped by their urges, harming their ability to form a meaningful relationship or even be a trustworthy friend.
Which brings us to the last point…
Are you constantly hurting others (and yourself for that matter) with your sexual choices?
Sex is a game in which there’s a high probability of somebody getting an occasional emotional injury, but it should also be empowering to both you and your lovers. If your sex life is a source of pain, instead of accepting your misfortunate sex life with numb fatalism, you need to change. Find someone you can discuss your sex life with, preferably in the context of professional therapy.
Because, regardless of what others might have told you, it is not normal to cry after every sex.