Tricked by abstinence-only sex education;?Dear Paul,

I took everyone’s advice when I was a teenager about waiting to have intercourse. Now at 22 it has given me nothing but regret. Waiting until my twenties made sex seem way overhyped. All my peers had that experience that I missed. It makes me feel lied to. I feel like I isolated myself from a normal teen experience for no reason and I don’t think it was helpful or fair to be told to wait longer. —T

Dear T,

Here’s my guess: your current issues have little to do with waiting until your early 20s before “having sex.

I don't think there's another person on the planet who dislikes abstinence-only sex education more than me, but it sounds like you are protesting too much about having taken the abstinence-only bait. I’ll bet that something else is going on that’s making sex feel uncomfortable for you at age 22. Seeing a therapist might help you to figure it out.

As for teenagers having sex—I don’t think it hurts to wait. But each person has to decide what’s best for himself or herself and their unique situation.

Also, having sex doesn’t need to include intercourse. Making out for a few hours and going home and masturbating or giving each other hand jobs can be pretty cool, and you don’t have to worry about pregnancy, STIs or slut-shaming.

Dear Paul,

     I fantasize about my ex-girlfriend from college when I’m having sex with my wife. I told my wife and she’s really upset. Is it wrong to think about my ex during sex?



       Most people reading your question are saying to themselves “What were you thinking?” That’s because in the Ten Commandments of Things You Don’t Tell Your Wife, fantasizing about sex with an ex is pretty close to the top.

       Is this being dishonest? Let’s just say if people were 100% honest in relationships, I’m not sure many relationships would last for long. The art is in learning what to disclose and what to keep quiet. As you have discovered, we sometimes cross that line at our own peril. Other times, the peril is in keeping too much to ourselves.

       As for thinking about another partner during sex, I don’t know if there’s a man alive who hasn’t done that. Ditto for women.

       Good luck doing damage control.

About the Author

Paul Joannides

Paul Joannides, Psy.D., is a research psychoanalyst, the author of Guide To Getting It On, and a speaker on college campuses.

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