Can an Amazing Ex-Lover Ruin You for Future Sex?

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man picking girlfriend upThere’s only one drawback to having the best sex of your life: The sex that comes after. Part of having more than one relationship over the course of your life is experiencing what intimacy is like with this partner or that one. And you can’t help but compare. It’s natural—but is the shadow of past-tense sex enough to ruin you for future partners?

I came across a post on a blog this weekend, in which a 33-year-old woman wrote in to a popular blogger who goes by “Moxie.” This woman was concerned that her current boyfriend just wasn’t measuring up to her last lover in the sex department. She’d been previously seeing a guy on and off in a noncommitted relationship for years. Things with him had been super hot and stayed hot because they only saw each other occasionally. How hot? Six to 12 orgasms per session. Yeah. That hot.

She really cares for her current boyfriend. She sees a future with him. And yet, the steamy memory of her former lover looms. Her new boyfriend tries hard and she often “ends up” enjoying herself, though she only eeks out about, meh, 1-2 orgasms, 3 on a good night. It doesn’t help, she says, that her current boyfriend is decidedly less endowed than her former FWB.

Moxie doesn’t mince words (love her for that). She writes,

“I think the first thing you need to do is grow up. Listening to women brag about all the ‘amazing’ sex they have makes me cringe. Hate to break it to you, but committing to someone involves a series of trade-offs.”

She later defended her sharp-edged advice on Twitter, saying that “Women who hold out for fireworks, butterflies, and mind blowing sex have seen too many movies.”

I disagree. What’s sold to us whole hog by the movie industry is the idea that True Love is Perfect and Lasts Forever—something we can all agree is a dangerous and disappointing idea. But can love be smoldering hot at the start? Absolutely. I believe in fireworks and butterflies. It IS possible to have someone wow you. But settling for something less than fantastic, especially at the outset, is a recipe for disaster.

If the image of what you want to be living every day doesn’t match what you currently have, that’s no reason to feel bad.

The problem: It’s very soon to feel “meh.” An orgasm is not a unit of measurement (and if fewer than 3 orgasms is a snooze for her, so be it! Who am I to judge!). What’s far more telling for me is that she’s already voicing dissatisfaction with her partner—when they’ve been together less than a year. If she’s feeling like that now, then it’s worth seriously considering whether she’s willing to trade hot sex for long-term stability. Some will do this. Some won’t. To my mind it has nothing to do with immaturity—it’s what you find most valuable.

Sex changes over time. Fact is, Current Guy isn’t just competing with Last Guy, he’s competing with himself—five, 10 years down the line. If she isn’t excited about him now, how thrilled can she expect to be, ever? We all know that sex in a new relationship ultimately gives way to a mellower, deeper connection. But you can’t smolder if you didn’t start with a flame.

I was dating a former colleague years ago whom I truly adored. I loved his company, thought he was incredibly smart, funny—but while our sex was healthy and good, I knew I didn’t feel quite the connection I was looking for. It had nothing to do with length or girth or not hitting an orgasm quota. But I also knew it wouldn’t be fair to stay with someone with whom I didn’t share matched desire and expectation.

You’ll grasp just how important this is when and if you ever reach for a partner who turns you down—repeatedly. Or when you find yourself putting off advances from him or her. Ignore it at your peril: You will start a long slippery decline into sexlessness, resentment and pain, for one or both parties, especially and if one partner decides to seek sex elsewhere.

If sex matters to you and you’re not happy where things are at, I urge you not to look at your past loves, but into the future. What do you really want? What matters most? And if the image of what you want to be living every day doesn’t match what you currently have, that’s no reason to feel bad. You’re not being petty or immature. You’re being honest with yourself—and if you’re wise, you’ll do the same with him.

More like this:

How Much Sex Do We Want? Whatever’s More than Our Neighbors
Don’t Wait Till You’re Perfect to Date (Because That Won’t Happen)
Why You’re Lying When You Say ‘I Need a Break From Dating’