The ins and outs of sex and sexual relationships are things that we don’t necessarily learn in school alongside multiplication tables and biology. And figuring out our relationships is even more complicated than Statistics 115.
I think Gertrude Stein had it all wrong when she said, “I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences.” We’ve mastered the English language, but to my mind, there’s nothing more exciting than a relationship between two people. OK, maybe three or four people adds more excitement, but for most, polyamory might be a bit much. Let’s scale it back to a one-on-one relationship.
If we just had a step-by step diagram of what makes sex really great or epic, dating and relationships would be so much easier. We can read 50 Shade Of Grey, look at Grey’s Anatomy, and fill in all of the pictures of the Anatomy coloring book and still be confused. Even though we know where all the right parts are and where they are supposed to be, technically speaking, great sex is trickier than the simple mechanics.
If you’ve mastered the English language and are looking to conquer the next great pleasure, go no further! This CliffsNotes-style guide will answer all your questions about relationships with others, ourselves and our expectations. Consider it Sex & Relationships 101. These are the top four sex lessons to learn in your 20s. (But if you want to get over a breakup, that’s a whole other story).
1. Lust is not love
When I was in my 20s I really thought if I had good chemistry with someone that it was love; it just had to be. Almost all of us have had a classic case of “lust at first sight.” (Hint: when his eyes catch yours from across the club, it is lust, not love). Lust is based on animal instincts and chemistry. Physical attraction to a man, and your fantasy of what he is really like kick into high gear. But until you get to know him, it doesn’t matter how hot he is. He might be a complete dufus and have no idea what it means to make love!
2. Don’t assume anything
If you hit the sack with a guy who isn’t in love with you yet, you might assume you’re exclusive as soon as you become intimate with one another. Lots of smart, savvy young women think this way. Many of our moms taught us that the only time to have sex was when you are in love, or better yet, married. But it’s not the 50s anymore, (and you may not even know 50s TV character June Cleaver and how much her husband really loved her pie).
But to my dismay, I found out pretty quickly that sex doesn’t mean love — or that you are the only one in his eyes. Until a man claims you and commits to you, and you have a mature discussion about exclusivity, one must never assume that he is exclusive, even if you are. What’s going on inside of your mind is only in your mind, unless you’ve had a little chat about it.
3. Don’t talk about past sexual partners
It could have been Don Juan or Adam Sandler, but I guarantee your new boyfriend does not want to imagine you getting busy with some big Italian guy who was awesome in bed and had a great… car. He doesn’t want to think about you comparing the size of your ex-boyfriend’s bank account — or anything else, for that matter. (If you’re interested in positive relationship-building talk, check out The 9 best ways to help your relationship).
4. Trust your intuition
No matter how cute or rich the new guy you met at the hipster sushi bar downtown is, if he invades your boundaries or you feel something other than positive, trust yourself.
Your feelings are your own personal guidance system, guardian angel or maybe even a direct line from your grandmother up in Heaven. Whatever it is, sometimes it is quiet, and if you’ve had one too many cosmopolitans, they’re especially hard to hear. But hear them you must! Your intuition is there for a reason. Your feelings are there to give you the red alert signal — beep beep beep! Your guidance is telling you a creeper is near. Don’t give him your number or even consider letting him give you a ride home, even if he is wearing a fancy watch and is wearing nice Italian leather shoes.
Learn to keep your boundaries, so that you feel good about yourself. When you feel good about yourself, your love life and your sex life will get exponentially better. Now that’s a lesson well-learned!