The latest episode of The Bachelorette where the show’s star, Kaitlyn, has sex with one of her many suitors and then seems to regret it the next morning has sparked a heated conversation in this country about casual sex. Whether you agree with Kaitlyn’s choice to engage in casual sex or not, a question for many of us, who aren’t on a reality TV show, is: how can we make sure we are making sexual choices that we won’t live to regret?
Barbara Lee, author of the book Sacred Sex: Replacing the Marriage Ethic with a Sexual Ethic, who coaches organizations and people all around the world in making healthy sexual choices, says there are key questions we must ask ourselves before we decide to jump into bed with someone.
Lee’s “Seven Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Go To Bed With Someone” are:
1) Do I really want to do this?
There are all kinds of pressures we face to be sexually active. You should never do anything you don’t want to do or are not comfortable with. If you’re having sex because you don’t want someone else to feel disappointed, angry or upset, then you aren’t treating yourself with the respect you deserve. And it should go without saying that the other person clearly has to want to do this too or it’s time to call it off.
2) How do I feel about myself right now?
We all have moments of self-doubt and uncertainty. Sometimes we think that having sex with a willing partner will help us to feel better about ourselves. But if you look to anyone else for validation and acceptance, you are setting yourself up to be hurt. Maturity starts with knowing who you are and liking who that person is.
3) How do I feel about my partner?
When we have sex, we make ourselves very vulnerable. All that we have is on the line. So we should know what we expect out of the encounter and how we feel about our partner. Just as important, you need to know what this means to your partner. It’s important that you are on the same page and have the same understanding of your relationship.
4) Is my partner my equal?
We can all find ourselves attracted to people with more or less power than we have, but we can choose whether to act on that attraction or not. If you have sex with someone over whom you have power or who has power over you, there is a much higher risk that one of you will be taken advantage of.
5) Am I being responsible?
You must be sure to take the necessary precautions not to spread sexually transmitted diseases or produce an unintended pregnancy. Safe sex keeps you alive and keeps you from starting a life accidentally. Plus you’ll relax and enjoy yourself more if you aren’t worried about the odds.
6) Am I just as interested in my partner’s pleasure as my own?
Sexual intimacy is a gift you give and a gift you receive. When you share your genuine needs, desires and responses with each other, sex is both self-liberating and other-enriching.
7) Will what I am doing bring me joy?
Sex is meant to be a joyous celebration without feelings of guilt or remorse. You should never do anything that violates your own values or beliefs. If what you are about to do is going to make you feel bad about yourself, don’t do it. Sexual activity is always your choice.