When it comes to sex and matters of the heart, there are many things that I wish I knew with hindsight, and there are many things that I would make sure that the younger me knew and understood. As I am unable to go back in time to mentor my younger self, I decided instead to write them down so that perhaps they will be of use to someone in their twenties who reads them. At the ripe, old age of 31, this is what I have learned so far.

1. Follow your instincts.

Many people say that women have a special level of intuition as well as the ability to sense and understand things that cannot be spoken or felt. Whilst some of you may dismiss this as airy-fairy nonsense, my intuition has never been wrong and has never let me down. It is, however, worth noting that there is a difference between intuition and paranoia so be careful not to confuse the two. Just remember, when it comes to matters of the heart, opinions of others, and your feelings about situations, always trust your own judgement and listen to your gut.

2. You can never change someone.

How many of us have been told by a friend, family member, or loved one “I will change,” or, “Just give me another chance, it will be different this time”? Newsflash, they won’t and it won’t. Leopards do not change their spots and whilst someone may be able to temporarily change, or even conceal undesirable aspects of their character, they will never change. Especially when it comes to cheating, violence, or abusive behaviour – they will never change and no amount of promises or declarations of love will change that.

3. Don’t waste your time trying to save anyone.

All of us will come across a broken soul from time to time. An individual who claims to be hurt, damaged, and beyond repair. They suck you in, manipulate you and make you feel like you are the only person that can save them. Another newsflash, you can’t. These people are often narcissists that feed off the love and support you provide them, offering nothing in return, and becoming emotionally abusive as time passes. Whilst being a loving and supporting partner is a part of the job description, saving someone is not, especially at the expense of your own sanity.

4. Your orgasm matters.

I spent most of my late teens and twenties believing that an orgasm was something that could only be achieved with my hands or something that vibrates. I thought sex was a little over-hyped and something that men enjoyed a lot, whilst we just sort of lay there feeling unsatisfied. Well, I have news for you, your orgasm is JUST as important as his, and you need to find yourself a man who will not stop or give up until you become a quivering heap of ecstasy in his hands – do not settle for less, because pleasure works both ways.

5. Don’t give too many chances.

When you are in an abusive or potentially abusive relationship it can be easy to superglue rose-tinted glasses to your face. Keep your wits about you and be aware of red flags as they crop up. Does he tell you he loves you within a few weeks? Does he show signs of jealousy? Were all of his ex-girlfriends “psycho-bitches”? Does he become aggressive with you verbally or physically? If any of these things crop up, you need to consider calling it a day. These are big red flags for the type of person that is not going to give you a healthy relationship. Don’t keep giving chances to these people, at the first sign of trouble or unusual, or disturbing behaviour, trust me, it is better to cut your losses and go.

6. Size isn’t everything.

I have had my fair share of dick and I can tell you, as someone that loves being fucked, size isn’t the be all and end all. Whilst I am not a big fan of the pencil-shaped penis that stabs away at your cervix, if you have a man who knows how to use it and is happy to use his hands, you are in luck. I have slept with men who are extremely well endowed who think just because they are packing heat, they can be lazy in the bedroom – well, I have news for you dear, just because you are hung like a stallion, doesn’t mean I am going to cum just from looking at it. Don’t dismiss those guys with a smaller package, because remember it isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

7. Communication is key.

A good friend of mine is a divorce lawyer and I asked him what the main cause of the breakdown of marriages was – his reply, “lack of communication”. Whether it is communicating what you want in the bedroom, your expectations, hopes, and future plans, or just something that irritates you, good two-way communication is key to a successful relationship. I learned the hard way that keeping your mouth shut and letting issues build up and up results in only one thing-disaster. Don’t be afraid to speak up, even if you think that what you say might upset or “put off’ the other person.

8. Don’t change yourself.

Growing and developing as a person and an individual is an important part of becoming an adult. I am most definitely not the same person I was a year ago, let alone a decade ago but the difference is that I made these changes for me, not for someone else. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need to change. Whether it is the way you dress, the friends you have, the way you choose to spend your time, or even your personality – the only person who should make these decisions is you. Of course, your partner is welcome to point out flaws of character or other issues in a constructive way, but don’t let anyone make you feel like shit or give you an ultimatum. You are who you are, and who you are is ok.

9. Experiment!

Life is too short to stick to the rules. There is a whole world out there full of exciting, wild, and interesting experiences and it is your job to explore these as much as you want. Experiment with your sexuality, explore wild and wonderful fantasies and live your life on the edge – if that is what you want, of course. Don’t waste time worrying that people will judge you, these people are only jealous of those that have the strength and guts to seek out new experiences. As long as its legal and everyone involved gives their full consent, go for it because if you don’t, you will regret it.

10. It’s fine to not have it all worked out.

There seems to be some unwritten checklist that we are all expected to abide by – graduate, buy a car, settle into a job, save money, meet a partner, get married, buy a house, push out some kids, work for 30 years, retire, and die. Whilst that may be exactly what you want from your life, don’t feel like you have failed if your life doesn’t pan out that way. You only have one life and if the way you end up spending yours doesn’t adhere to these milestones then that is totally okay. I spent most of my adult life (thus far) not knowing what on earth I wanted to do or where I wanted to be. I have lived in four countries, been married and divorced, adopted two cats, and set up my own business. I don’t want children, I can’t drive, I don’t own a property, but you know what? I am happy and successful. Happiness doesn’t come in the form of material possessions, qualifications, or mortgages – it comes with life experience, adventures, and things that satisfy you. Don’t let other people’s expectations and standards impact the way that you choose to live your life. Do what makes you happy and enriches your existence because you only get one life, and it only belongs to you.