When Good Sex Goes Bad - How To Avoid Making Bad Choices In Your Sex Life

16/08/2016 17:34 | Updated 16 August 2016

Sex sells the advertising industry says. Men think about sex every seven seconds, a famous but completely fabricated stat says, (it's actually 19 times per day, on average, with women sex-sidetracked an average of ten times per day). If you believe the media then our whole lives revolve around sex, and whilst that isn't true, it is fair to say that many people in the West live in a relatively enlightened sexual time, where sexual freedom is both relatively attainable and relatively socially permissible.

However, we as human beings are complicated creatures, and with these expanded options comes new challenges and consequences. Every week I see clients who have made choices in their sex life that are directly damaging to their self esteem and happiness, and yet they find themselves making the same mistakes again and again. It turns out that a BSC (Bad Sex Choice) isn't just an occasional occurrence for some people, but a lifetime repetition for many. Nearly all of us commits a BSC mistake at one point in our life, and some are graduating with honours daily.

So what should you be looking out for in your own BSC behaviour, and how can you adapt this to better support your self esteem and happiness?

This article contains common themes that are brought to me by my clients in private behind the doors of my therapy room. These are the most common problems experienced by single females, single males and people in relationships, along with clear action plans on how to overcome these problems so that your sex life can be positive and fulfilling, and you can avoid any bad decisions, bad habits or catastrophic bedroom blunders.

If you're a single female

Sex and the emotional roller coaster

In this day and age many females feel they should be sexually liberated and engage in as much sex as they want, whenever they want, just as much as men. The problem with this is that very few women can separate sex and love, and the feeling of emotional attachment promoted by the increase of Oxytocin (the bonding hormone) will typically kick in for most females after sex. In my clinical practice I often hear my female clients obsessing over and wanting to have relationships with unsuitable partners within the first few days after a sexual episode. One client I met with referred to this as "sex crush", which can be emotionally draining for women, and is probably the most common BSC I encounter.

What to do if this is you:

Ask yourself can I really separate love from sex, and do I really want to keep facing the feelings of rejection each time a sexual encounter doesn't lead to anything. For many women no matter how logical they try to be they still have feelings for the person they have sex for at least a short period of time no matter how unsuitable a partner the person may be. Remember if you're having sex regularly with various partners that's a lot of ups and downs of emotions to deal with. Can you cope with this? If not, understand when you are in this cycle and make decisive action to remove yourself from this.

Fifty shades of danger

Whilst any form of personal expression is almost always a positive thing, the most concerning thing about the book Fifty Shades of Grey was the number of females who started coming to my clinic informing me that they had engaged in some form of BDSM behaviour suggested by the other partner, which she later felt used, traumatised or regretful about. Rather than the open minded expressive experience that the woman thought she was going to undergo, she instead found herself making the BSC of acquiescing to her partner's wishes ahead of her own.

What to do if this is you:

If anyone is suggesting you engage in anything you feel uncomfortable with, in a sexual or emotional sense, ensure you've taken a decent amount of time to get to know the person and you feel you can predict their behaviour in almost every situation, and ask yourself is this person warm, caring and respectful. Saying no to this person a few times will give you a good idea of how considerate they are of your feelings. The bottomline is that anyone you have just met suggesting some form of BDSM behaviour very early on is a massive red flag, and my advice would be to run while you can, as this person is most likely bad news for your self esteem.

If you're a single male

Sex as self medication

Despite the obvious male advantages a patriarchal society offers, it also comes with some inherent destabilising gender issues for men in particular. We still live in a highly damaging culture where 'real men don't cry', and macho rules dictate that your masculinity is linked to the number of women you sleep with. As such, many men slip into terrible BSCs by using sex with multiple partners to drag themselves into a different emotional state. It often comes from households where emotions were not understood or dealt with very well, and is a very long term damaging BSC cycle to fall into.

What to do if this is you:

You have to be honest with yourself and ask questions truthfully. Ask if you are using sex as a form of escapism in order not to feel? You've developed a form of addiction towards sex as a temporary coping strategy, which will only ever give you short term relief. Remember, addictive behaviours are not something you need to be engaging in every day for it to be considered an addiction. Try to avoid using sex as a way to suppress difficult emotions such as boredom, emptiness, loneliness, stress and other negative feelings, and practice sitting through these emotions and accepting them for what they are before choosing to have sex again.

Honesty will get you everywhere

Often my male clients tell me that they are purposely vague about their intention when they meet a female. They don't necessarily lie to the girl, but they feel that if they admit that they don't want a relationship they will miss out on the opportunity to have sex with her. This BSC is rooted in self esteem issues that you as an individual are not good enough by being your true self, and is as much of a symptom of underlying issues as it is a cause of self damaging behaviour.

What to do if this is you:

Simple! Be honest with the partner from the get go. If you're not looking for a relationship tell them this, but explain that you are extremely attracted to them and you'd like to explore this, if this is in fact true. You might be surprised with how many partners still say yes to this situation. If the person chooses to have sex with you after this then the person knows what they're getting themselves into, and will have no chance to be angry with you if this encounter doesn't amount to something. To expand on this, you should screen out the insecure partners as much as possible in the first place, leaving no room for misinterpretation.

If you're in a relationship

Reducing negative emotions to promote sex

Being in a relationship can be difficult, and you will almost certainly notice highs and lows to your sex life. First of all you may notice when there is distress in your relationship the amount of sex you are having will often decrease. The most common relationship BSC is letting these negative emotions infiltrate your intimacy, which leads to nothing but bad outcomes.

What to do if this is you:

Make time for regular chats where you can openly share your thoughts and feelings with your partner about every aspect of your relationship. Make sure you do this in an environment where there won't be distractions. It's also good to risk being more honest with your partner than you normally would be, as this can help you release built up anger in a relationship and promote feelings of trust. When things start to get better in your relationship the habit of frequent sex may not return to what it was before the problems started so you may need to start scheduling time for love making in order to get things going again.

The spark has gone out in the bedroom

As humans we adapt to things very easily. This is great if you are terrified of flying, as the more you fly the more comfortable you will feel, but unfortunately it's not so good for when your relationship gets past the honeymoon phase. When relationships get comfortable often the sex can start to feel monotonous, and you may end up finding that you're responding on fantasy rather than being in the present moment just to achieve an orgasm, or even worse your not even engaging in sex at all anymore or it's very infrequent. This is the worst reason for BSC-ing that I can think of - apathy, and there is no excuse from either of you to not address this.

What to do if this is you:

It's time to get creative. Start talking to your partner about their fantasies, and ask them if there is anything in particular that would turn them on and exchange your own preferences for trying new things. If you're both completely comfortable with the ideas you've bounced off each other then schedule a time where you can live out your fantasies. Good sex does take work and, remember, what really turned your partner on yesterday might not do it for them today. Keep asking them questions and for feedback. Together you are the creative team behind your wonderful, innovative and ever changing sex lives.

Summary for a high self esteem sex life

Don't get me wrong sex is a great part of everyone's lives. It's a natural human need, and it can have many benefits, such a relieving stress. However, just like many things, alcohol, food, the Internet, etc, it's good to make your sex choices responsibly in order to live a fulfilling life.

Trust your instincts when it comes to sex, whether your single or in a relationship, and you will avoid a BSC to set you back. Regardless of whether you are single or in a relationship honesty is the best way to keep negative emotions between you and the other person as low as possible.

Finally, remember, continuing to have good sex with the person you're committed to takes work, so if you are lucky enough to have found a wonderful partner take the time to work on the communication and behaviours that can contribute to the continuous success of a satisfying love life.

For questions about this article get in touch with Dr Becky on Twitter at @drbeckyspelman.