Ever since I got into a committed relationship a few months ago, I’ve been enjoying the whole “eat chili in bed and binge on Netflix with someone you actually like instead of making awkward small talk through yet another Tinder date on Saturday night” thing. But before I was ready to settle down I spent much of my single life having safe, consensual sex with a variety of partners, and even though I’m happily monogamous now, I don’t regret my past at all.
- Sleeping around gave me confidence. The stereotype of sexually adventurous women is that we’re damaged or broken in some way and use sleeping with multiple partners as a sad and empty attempt to fill a gaping void in our self-esteem. In my experience, that’s total BS. Having no strings attached sex taught me to establish boundaries, ask for what I want, and communicate effectively. I’m no wounded bird — I’m a strong, take charge woman both in and out of the bedroom.
- I learned the value of self-care. As I mentioned above, all of my encounters were with respectful partners who observed my clearly communicated boundaries, and practicing safe sex was never negotiable. Any potential hookup who whined about wearing a condom was quickly relegated to “wannabe player” status and permanently deleted from my phone. Claiming power over my safety and well being was incredibly liberating, and it made me value my body and my sexuality in a way I never had before.
- It gave me the opportunity to experience the “wrong” type of men. Sometimes you’ll meet a guy who’s hot as hell, but also utterly unsuitable for a long-term relationship — like the pretentious bartender who’s been writing his screenplay for the better part of a decade, or the hedge fund manager who works 16 hour days and wants to snort coke off your ass. No strings attached sex with fun, interesting men who you would never take home to meet your family can be a great way to broaden your horizons without anyone’s feelings getting hurt.
- Sleeping around expanded my skill set. As the saying goes, different strokes for different folks — and that’s especially true when you’re experiencing a variety of sexual partners. Some men are orally fixated, some prefer to gaze tenderly into your eyes, and some love toys, lingerie, and dirty talk. Being exposed to a melange of proclivities made me more attuned to what turns me on in the bedroom while also being able to anticipate and appreciate the needs of my partner.
- I realized that I’ll always have options. I’ve recently discovered that monogamy with the right person can be deeply fulfilling. But if you’re not careful, it can make you too dependent on one person to meet all your emotional needs. Sleeping around during my single days made me aware that if a guy I’m hooking up with pisses me off, there will always be another one who is eager to take his place. Even though I’m committed to making my relationship work, knowing that I’ll always have options gives me the confidence to maintain a healthy sense of independence.
- Sleeping around made me feel sexy as hell. There’s nothing like the possibility of ending up in bed with your Tinder date to make sure you’re keeping it on point from head to toe. For me, that meant hitting the gym on a regular basis, investing in some seriously scandalous lingerie, and getting regular mani-pedis. Of course, I enjoyed the fact that my partners thought I looked hot, but I also realized that putting effort in to my appearance made me feel sensual and confident even when I wasn’t about to rip my clothes off.
- Sleeping around made me forget to stress out about finding “The One.” When I was single, I constantly felt pressured to fall in love, pair up with that special someone, and live happily ever. Once I just started having fun with a bunch of hot guys instead of obsessing over finding Mr. Right, I became much more relaxed and centered. Sleeping around made me open to new possibilities, and my nonchalance towards romance is ironically one of the things my current partner finds most attractive about me.
- I was able to relish my independence. Sleeping around gives you all the benefits of a relationship with none of the downsides. You can get your physical needs met with a wide variety of interesting men, and then go home to your own apartment and do whatever the hell you want. Depending on what mood I was in, I had a different dude for when I wanted deep conversation, when I wanted to laugh, and when I just wanted to dance my ass off all night. The only thing they had in common was that none of them were my boyfriend, so there was no guilt when I didn’t text them for weeks at a time.
- Sleeping around made me appreciate commitment more. While some of my friends who married young are blissfully happy, a few of them have confessed to me after a few glasses of wine that they wish they had let themselves experience a few years of no strings attached sex before settling down so quickly. Giving myself the opportunity to explore my sexuality before committing to one partner has helped me avoid the “grass is greener” syndrome that can plague some relationships. When it comes to crazy sexcapades, I’ve been there, done that — and now I’m happy to come home to my partner every night and chill in my pajamas.