I know. You probably think that since I used the word "haunting" that I'm referring to something eerie like a ghost or spirit. Nope. If your sexual past has you seeing things, I gotta be honest and own that I'm not qualified to help you out with that. Naw, when I'm talking about your past sexual experiences being able to haunt you, I'm coming from the perspective that, no matter how much you try to shake some of them off, they keep coming into your mind and heart, almost like they are taunting you and keeping you from getting on with your life. It could be a particular man, it could be the sexual experiences that you had with a few men or, it could be the act of sex itself.
The reason why I do feel like I can speak on this kind of haunting is because, for many years, I was haunted by different forms of my sexual past. It seemed like no matter what I did or how hard I tried, certain partners and experiences, I just couldn't seem to shake. Because of that, it was very hard for me to emotionally heal and move forward. And trust me, staying stagnant is a surefire way to set yourself up for some pretty unhealthy—or at least totally counterproductive—approaches to life and relationships with other people.
Time is precious; far too precious for sex to be haunting you instead of blessing you. So, if you're reading this and there's something tugging you to not click off of this page, I'd say that's the first sign that something in your past may be taking up way too much of your present. Just to be sure, here are seven spot-on signs that you may be sexually haunted.
You’re Always Making ComparisonsGiphy
Knock virginity if you want to but waiting until marriage does have its benefits. For instance, there's someone I know who's been married over 15 years now, who used to say all of the time, "I don't know if my husband is great in bed or not. I know he's great to me because I don't know any different."
Those of us single gals who won't have her same testimony on our wedding night might find it to be a little sad that she didn't get to "kick it" before saying "I do". But you know what? I've dealt with my fair share of couples who have some pretty sucky sex lives and, a big part of it is because, their spouse isn't as good as someone from their past. Sure, they love their husband or wife but if they had to pick someone to join them in the bedroom, some other names would come before them.
You can't control the past that you had or even the memories that come from them. But if you're currently sexually involved with someone and you can't enjoy them because you're always comparing them with someone else, this is one sign that your sexual past is definitely haunting you. Not just haunting you but having way too much power over you too.
You Keep Going Back (to the Sex not “Him”)
There is someone from my past who I had sex with, off and on, for years. For a myriad of reasons that are about a book-length long, we knew that being together, long-term, wasn't gonna work out. But that sex was sooooo good (WHEW!) that we kept coming back for more. Then one day, out of the blue, he told me that I was like crack to him and he chose to no longer be addicted. I never heard from him again.
A few years ago, I looked him up to see what he was up to. I discovered that he was doing very well. I left a message on his work phone saying, "This is crack" and I asked him to give me a call if he got a chance. He called that night and we spoke for about eight hours straight. Y'all, he still looks and sounds just as fine as I remembered him. Anyway, when I asked him what made him blindside me with that phone call almost 20 years ago, he said that he was so caught up in what we had going on that it was sidetracking him—"Shellie, I was literally considering leaving college and moving to Nashville, just so we could have sex all of the time. It was getting out of control." He tells no lies there.
The moral to this story—sex is a part of a relationship but anything that is all-consuming isn't healthy. If there is someone you keep going back to and the only reason you've got is because the sex is good, while I hate to say it, that reason isn't good enough. Believe it or not, there are men in this world that can offer you the complete package. Don't remain in a dead-end situation just because the orgasms are good.
You Carry Past Sexual Guilt
I've always been really candid about my sex life. I'm not sure why; I think it's because I'm a pretty open person overall. That doesn't mean that I haven't done some things that I regret (regret means remorse so, it's a good thing to have regrets sometimes). An example is I was once the wedding planner for a couple and I was sleeping with the groom at the time.
How can I share something so low-down? Because, while I am repentant, I don't carry any guilt (or shame) about the situation. It was years and years ago. I apologized to both parties. I've forgiven myself. I've moved past it.
If you have a sexual past, chances are, you've done some things that you're not exactly proud of either. While a certain amount of initial guilt can be good so that you'll learn your lesson and not repeat it, remaining in a state of guilt is bad for your mental health and emotional well-being (check out "10 Things You Didn't Know About Guilt").
If you're having a hard time being in a relationship or having a satisfying sex life and you know it's tied to some sex-related guilt that you're holding onto, I'll share with you one of my favorite definitions of forgiveness that I once heard Oprah share—"Forgiveness is accepting that the past cannot change."
Guilt keeps us looking backwards. Release it so that you can move forwards.
Or You Hold onto Past Sexual Fear
When I speak of fear, I don't mean the kind of fear that may be connected to sexual trauma. If your sexual past is haunting you due to something like that, you are warranted and I encourage you to see a professional and reputable therapist. Counseling or even trauma healing can be life changing; they really can.
Actually, where I'm coming from is the acronym for fear—False Evidence Appearing Real. Another indication that your sexual past may be haunting you is a past partner may have made you feel self-conscious about your body or sexual performance or, a sexual experience that you built up in your mind ended up not being all that you fantasized and that has hindered you from fully enjoying sex now. You don't want to show your body, you prefer to have sex in the dark and/or you build up a wall so that you won't be disappointed…again.
Your current partner is not your past one. Unless he gives you reason to think that things will be like before, make a conscious decision to give him the benefit of the doubt. When fear knows that we don't believe what it's telling us, oftentimes, it tends to fade away.
You Constantly Use Sex as a Way to Move On
I've shared before that a saying that is truly like fingernails on the chalkboard to me is, "The best way to get over someone is to get underneath someone else." It files right up there with "If you like it, I love it." (Because we usually say that when someone is doing something stupid or self-destructive. So no, I don't love it.) Anyway, if you're someone who believes that rebound sex is the best way to move on from someone who turned you out and/or broke your heart, do your future a favor and check out "We Should Really Rethink the Term 'Casual Sex'". The oxytocin that surges throughout your body during sex has no idea if you're doin' it and doin' it well (shout out to LL Cool J) with someone you're in love with or someone you just met.
And since oxytocin is designed to bond you to your sex partners regardless, well…if your way of getting over someone is to be with someone else, I hate to break it to you, but all you're actually doing is adding more men to the list that you'll have to get over—one way or another. You're setting yourself up to remain sexually haunted for a long, long time.
Sex Is Your (Main) Self-Esteem Booster
Who doesn't want to be told that they are good in bed?! Anyone who says they don't care is LY-ING. However, I'll raise my hand in this class and admit that when it comes to about half of the 14 sex partners that I've had (I break all of them down in "Each of My 14 Sex Partners Taught Me Something New"), a part of the reason why they were able to "get in" at all is because I had seasons in my life where I thought that the only thing that would draw—and hopefully keep—a man was my sexual performance. The problem with that is 1) all of us have more than one thing that makes us special and relationship-worthy and 2) that is a lot of power—too much power—to relinquish to one particular aspect of your life.
Take it from me, if you are in the habit of using sex—or your sexual performance—as a way to feel good about yourself, there are a ton of men who are just waiting to manipulate that breakdown in your psyche. Not only that but, during your sexual dry seasons, you could find yourself in mild bouts of self-hatred or depression because you aren't able to rely on your "fix". And since you've convinced yourself for so long that sex is the only way to remedy the issue…do you see the vicious cycle that you've created?
Sex Is Your Coping Mechanism
Speaking of sex being a "fix", if you run to sex, because you don't know how else to deal with a bad situation or difficult emotions, that's a sign that you're misusing sex more than you're actually embracing it. Sex is proven to reduce stress and make us happier, but if you don't know any other way to handle what's transpiring in your life, not only are you setting yourself up to have "haunting feelings" about sex itself but you could send yourself on the path to becoming a diagnosed sex addict.
So, what should you do when life seems to be a little painful or out of control? Get still and don't be afraid to feel what you're feeling. Do something like take a bath, listen to some relaxing music or even take a nap in order to give yourself a bit of a break. Then try and come up with a plan of what to do next. Then actually follow through with said plan.
I know this isn't the kind of topic that gets explored a lot. But it should be. Sex is too awesome for it to be out here haunting you. Exorcise the past so that you can openly and freely get on with your sexual future!
Featured image by Getty Images.