Sometimes sex doesn’t always pan out how you want it to. It may be orgasmic during, but it may leave you feeling that little void in the inside that can’t even be filled with Ben & Jerry’s. But why should we feel bad if we’ve had a good time?! Sex can make us feel pleasure, shame, fulfillment, happiness, guilt, emptiness, and perhaps worst of all, regret. Those feelings are normal and they’re okay, but they should be handled with strength and maturity.

Sex & Connection

We’ve all had that relationship that was casual, just friends with benefits. The sex might be great, and it’s a chance to learn and experiment with a friend you feel comfortable with. However, with sex can come emotions. After a while, you might start to fall for them, hard. Time for “the talk.”

If you start to fall for your friend with benefits, tell them how you feel. Tell them you care for them, you have a lot of chemistry, and you’re ready to settle down into a relationship. If they don’t want the same thing then give yourself some space, give them the chance to miss you. Tell them honestly that you need some space for a while to move on. Continuing to “see” them will likely break your heart further. They’re getting what they wants, but you’re not. So, take some time to appreciate your single status and get over the rejection. Ultimately, it might eventually save your friendship. If it doesn’t, the friendship wasn’t strong enough to begin with. I encourage having fun and experimenting with someone you care about and trust, but guard your heart during hook-ups and establish early on what your partner is looking for and if they’re open to a relationship later on. It’s never too soon to ask what they want.

Bad One Night Stands

One night stands can be a lot of fun and make for great stories over mimosas with the girls, but what do you do when you have a deeply regrettable, and shamefully awful, one night stand?

Don’t make the mistake I’ve made before; avoiding their calls or texts or failing to respond to the offer of a second date. Tell them kindly that you’re not interested in going any further. Everyone – no matter how little interaction you’ve had with them – granted that the experience and person was respectful to you – deserves the respect of a conversation. Cop to it and admit that you don’t want to see them again, rather than dragging it on by continually blowing them off.

Drunken Guilty Hookup

It happens to the best of us. Whether we’re at a cousin’s wedding, a New Year’s Eve party, or clubbing with the girls on a Saturday night – and hook up with that stranger we regret. Maybe he was a jerk, maybe he wasn’t nearly as cute as you thought he was in the dark lighting, or maybe you just wished you hadn’t had sex after all. Mistakes happen, we all make them.

You may feel guilt and emptiness. Remember, it’s okay, these things happen. You might feel that it was a mistake, which leads to shame and guilt, which can lead to bad decisions we feel will erase the original bad decision. Don’t fall into that cycle. Instead, know that mistakes are okay, and learn from them.

If someone gives you their number and texts to ask you out on a date, only say yes if you’re truly interested. If you’re not interested, but go anyway, the date will be terrible. You’ll count down the minutes until it’s over. Just tell the person you won’t be seeing each other again. Don’t make it worse by leading someone on to make your choices okay. There’s no shame in making mistakes, but there is shame in not learning from them.

Break-up Sex

It can be good sometimes. Not just pleasurable, but good for closure. Feelings for those we care about don’t just go away when we say the final fated words, “it’s over”. Sometimes sex after a break-up can help relieve those feelings and make the separation easier because you got a chance to say a real, physical goodbye.

However, other times, break-up sex can be harmful. We never really know which it’s going to be until after it’s over, and by then it’s too late to do anything about it. So, you have sex with the ex, perhaps while picking up a box s/he put together for you – the last remnant of a painful, yet exciting, and long relationship. On the drive home, it finally hits you. It’ll cut deep. You let them in (figuratively and literally) once again. It’ll hurt for a while. You’ll regret it, you’ll think the sex wasn’t even worth it. That may be true, but most often you’ll realize it was worth it, in its own way.

Break-up sex is never a “good”: idea and often not an idea at all; it just happens, but when it does happen don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone needs closure, and even when your heart hurts afterwards, your body still got to say goodbye and you’ll find it’s a little easier to walk away. The hurt that follows is a big wake-up call. They’ll never hurt you again. Let your heart play catch up with the rest of you and say goodbye to the ex.

Emotions happen, sex can be a heavy experience. It may be a lot to handle, but handle it with maturity. Others will respect you and, more importantly, you’ll respect yourself if you do. Don’t blow someone off – just cop to it and tell them you don’t want to “see them” anymore. Know that there’s no shame in admitting how you really feel, whether you care for someone or not. And know when it’s better to walk away. When it comes to emotions from sex, honesty is the best way to handle any situation: honesty with your partners and especially honesty with yourself.