You’ve probably done it; you’re driving home late at night feeling disappointed – or worse.. Maybe you’re pounding the steering wheel and shouting at yourself. You just finished sex with someone and you’re sorry you did it.

You know the bumper sticker that says that the worst day at the beach is better than the best day at the office? Well, this is not true about sex. It’s better to stay hungry and horny rather than have sex that leaves you feeling bad about yourself. Good sex means sex that feels enjoyable while you’re having it, and equally good when you think about it afterwards.

Bad sex comes in several flavors, but they all taste pretty bad. You know it’s bad if you feel like you just wasted your time, or like you did something that hurt yourself or someone else. And if the sex is bad, why bother having it?

The main mistakes people make are:

1. The sex was all right, but it was with the wrong guy.
In this instance, there was nothing wrong with the physical acts involved and whatever else felt technically OK. But there was something about the guy or the situation that made it really not work for you.

Maybe one of you was hoping for a friendly encounter (or more) and the other one was brutally frank that this was just about getting off, thank you very much. If you reserve sex for someone you love and you do it with someone you find you don’t even like all that much, your body may be happy, but your heart won’t be. If you’re single and looking for love, sport-sex can leave your emotions raw and take a toll on your self-esteem.

If you leave feeling wounded or feeling like you’ve wounded the other guy, the sex was bad, no matter how much of a hunk your partner might have been.

Other situations that make it not work: you’re cheating on your lover and you feel guilty afterwards. Or you and your sex partner match up in terms of availability, but the guy is thoughtless or rude in a way that leaves you feeling bad about yourself afterwards. Or maybe you just have no interest in the guy and realize you weren’t really horny – you were just avoiding some chore like paying the bills at home. A good rule of thumb is to save sex for when you’re horny or wanting intimate connection with another person – not when you’re just bored.

2. Both the sex and the guy were awful.
We’re not talking bad technique here. You picked up the guy when you were high or drunk, even though you know that’s a problem for you, and now you feel like it was just another time when you were out of control. Maybe the guy was so hot that you gave in and had sex that you know was risky and unsafe and now you’re worrying about HIV or some other STD.

Some sex is really, really bad – when you’ve been assaulted, for instance. Maybe you are feeling violated because what happened was essentially date rape. Too often men think rape is something that happens only to women. They don’t recognize that having someone not take no for an answer is also a form of sexual assault, even if no one pulled a knife or a gun. Men who are drunk or high or who are just coming out can be particularly vulnerable to this sort of assault because they have trouble setting limits. Learning to say no and learning to protect yourself is important. The woods aren’t full of creeps, but hey: be careful out there.

3. The sex and the guy seemed OK, but the time afterwards was icky.
We can spend so much time working toward that orgasm that we don’t pay enough attention to what happens afterwards. Put yourself in that place: you’re still breathing hard, and your body is in a tingly, electric place. All of a sudden, your stud muffin is out of bed and on to whatever is next. If you’re having good sex, when the squirting stops you are entering a time that sexologists call afterglow. It’s a time when your heart is open and your body is awake, your mind is quiet and your spirit is soaring. You’re feeling open and maybe vulnerable and with the right guy it’s a very sweet time.

If you’re having bad sex, one of you is probably rushing to the bathroom to clean up right about now, destroying the mood. Of course in really bad sex someone may not be rushing for the bathroom – they may be running for the front door. When it’s over, it’s over! Nothing to say and no touching or holding. It can feel like listening to a piece of music that gets interrupted before the final notes are played. You’re left hanging.
Orgasms are nice (OK, orgasms are great), but they are not the sum total of sex – especially good sex. Good sex means that getting there is more than half the fun, and staying there afterwards is also pretty cool.

How to avoid bad sex?

First, resist the urge to cruise when you aren’t really horny. Using sex as a time-filler sets you up for disappointment. Learn to say “no” when the chemistry with your potential partner isn’t working; don’t have sex just to avoid disappointing him (believe it or not, people do that all the time). Know your limits regarding alcohol, drugs, unprotected sex and related stuff, and honor the limits you set for yourself. You’ll feel good afterwards.
And finally, when you are having sex and it’s going fine, don’t cheat yourself out of enjoying the coming-in-for-a-landing time after the big orgasm. Treat yourself and your partner with tenderness and respect.

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