So you like someone—or at least are very attracted to him or her—and boom! You have sex.
It could even be great sex, but then the next day or the next, you experience uncertainty and even anxiety about your having sex so soon. (And, yes, men do experience this reaction, too!)
What do you do? How do you deal with your feelings? Should you call the person? But what do you say?
Or perhaps it’s best just to move on.
My clients and research participants told me many stories about sex regret. And the are the ones who came up with a great name for it: Pre-Mature Sex Regret. Here are their tested tips for dealing with it.
Checklist for Dealing With Pre-Mature Sex Regret:
1. Do Some Soul-Searching
Why did I have sex too soon for my own emotional good?
Here are the most common reasons. Mark the ones in each section that apply to you. Add your own:
a. I was lonely. I needed physical contact. I’ve been going through tough times emotionally. I needed reassurance that I am still attractive and desirable. I needed comforting.
b. I was experimenting. I have trouble controlling my sexual impulses.
c. I was really attracted to this person. The person was a real catch and I thought I could seal the deal with sex.
Knowing why you did something—anything—but especially sexual things—gives you greater mastery of your feelings and actions. It’s great to welcome life’s surprises, but we don’t welcome unexpected dips in our self-esteem, self-respect or sense of maturity and mastery in life.
2. Accept That Sexual Activity Is Very Important and Distinct From Other Relationship Behavior
Okay—we are used to seeing ads on television for just about every kind of personal product for men and women. And dating norms vary widely. But, so far, we can’t change our brain’s neural and hormonal sexual responses—and the feelings that we get when our brain is sexually aroused.
For women, sex activates oxytocin, which is the hormone of love and attachment. After sex, women may end up feeling closer to a man even if they don’t know him very well.
The capable and successful women in my study said they were “surprised” that after the date was over they couldn’t stop wondering if the man would call.
For men, sex activates testosterone, which increases pleasure, well-being and a sense of mastery. They might want more sex with you—but not necessarily a relationship. Or, they might feel “been there, done that—time to move on to another hunt.”
But, oops! The man might also discover that sex with you was good—and that being with you, in general, was good. He, too, could surprise himself by finding that he wants a relationshipwith you. Numerous studies show that men want to fall in love—and that they fall in love more quickly than women! So, he might be wondering if you have feelings for him.
3. Accept That You Are Human
Don’t brood or beat yourself up if you are not feeling confident and happy about having sex too soon. Even the wisest people take missteps. It’s more important that you do the soul-searching in the first item in this list.
4. Examine Whether You Want to See This Person Again
You are not obligated to see this person again. Assuming that the sex was consensual and between adults, then you both agreed to have sex.
Ask yourself these questions:
- On a scale of 1-10, with 10 the highest, how much do I want to see this person again—even if I feel awkward?
- On a scale of 1-10, with 10 the highest, how much do I feel too embarrassed, uncomfortable to see this person again?
- On a scale of 1-10, with 10 the highest, how much do I want to chalk up the experience to—well, an experience?
- On a scale of 1-10, with 10 the highest, how much do I regret having sex with this person so soon?
If you decide you don’t want to see the person again, give yourself permission to follow your feelings. It is normal if it takes you time to learn from your experience and to feel better. However, if you want to see the person again, then read the last tip.
5. Take All or Some of the Following Steps if You Want to See the Person Again
Each one of these tips has proven successful. Choose the ones that strike you as doable for you and your situation. Add whatever else comes to mind.
- Send an emoticon that expresses your happy mood.
- Send a text message or email that says you had a great time and would love to meet for coffee or lunch or casual after-work drink. This message relays a light and comfortable mindset.
- Set a time limit that you will wait before hearing from the other person. Then decide if you want to do the steps above.
6. If You Do Arrange to Meet in Person, Say Clearly Any or All of the Following Things:
- “I like you and really want to get to know you better before we have sex again.” (Being direct but kind decreases the other person’s anxiety—and yours as well. The person’s response will tell you whether it was a one-nightstand or more.)
- “I hope you don’t think that I have sex so soon with lots of people.” (This bridging statement eases you both into daring to address how you feel and whether you want to see each other again—and in what way.)
- I was just instantly attracted to you, and the attraction didn’t really allow for time for us to get know each other without sex! (Humor combined with an open and honest heart can go a long way.)
- “I felt comfortable with you—there’s this nice quality about you, and I think it made me move too quickly.” (Flattering the person is also a good tension-breaker.)
I hope these tips help!