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06/10/2014 11:53 am ET Updated Jul 15, 2014

The 5 Stages of Sexual Grief

Making huge mistakes in bed -- we're talking those of epic proportions -- is a universal experience. People from all walks of life do bad things they regret in the morning -- it's an inevitable part of life and love. But while there is no right way to mourn your sexual indiscretions, please know that one thing is certain: as long as you have a support network of good friends who have short attention spans, access to a steady supply of chocolate and the ability to move to a new city, you will get through this.

 

1. Denial and Isolation

The first reaction of a terrible sexual experience is to deny the reality of the situation. "He's probably never even seen When Harry Met Sally, there's no way he'll recognize my impression of Meg Ryan in it." Or: "There's no way my boss will figure out my boyfriend and I christened her office. Now where did I put those monogrammed panties?" Or: "There was so much moaning going on, there's no way he heard me call him 'daddy.'" It is a normal defense mechanism that eases the blow. Rest assured, this is a temporary response that gets you through the first wave of humiliation, embarrassment and/or regret.

 

2. Anger

You can only lie to yourself for so long; eventually reality must dawn on you. But when it does, you still probably won't be ready to wake up. Rather than emotionally processing the humiliation, embarrassment and/or regret, you deflect it and express it as anger:

  • Your mother is to blame for your inability to get naked without crying...
  • Your boyfriend is so rude and insensitive for cooking you a bean-based meal...
  • It's your roommate's fault that she found you in bed with her boyfriend, she should never have given him the keys to the apartment!
You may lash out at these people, or at total strangers... strangers who happen to be making out on your bus home from a long day at work... throwing the fact of their healthy sex life in your face... until you throw the wadded-up wrapper from your tasteless Big Mac at them while running off the bus at your stop, screaming "GET A ROOM!!!" Or you might take out your frustrations on inanimate objects, like violently shoving your "back massager" down the garbage disposal.

 

3. Bargaining

The normal reaction to feelings of sexual inadequacy, ignorance or stupidity is often a need to regain control:

  • If only I hadn't drunk dialed him that fifth time the other night...
  • If only I had deleted my browser history...
  • If only I hadn't pointed and giggled...
Secretly, you might try to make a deal with some higher power -- God or your spouse -- in an attempt undue what's already been done. Sorry, Charlie: it ain't gonna happen.

 

4. Depression

This is when it really hits home: you realize how royally you screwed up. And it makes you want to lock the front door, turn off your phone, and curl up in a ball with a pint of Ben & Jerry's and a Tori Spelling marathon on Lifetime. Go ahead and do it, because, let's face it, you really shouldn't be showing your face in public right now. But don't worry, Pookie, it won't always be this bad (see number 5 below).

 

5. Acceptance

Most people with at least an ounce of self-awareness will eventually come to accept the fact that they did something sexually stupid, the world didn't end and they were able to emerge from their Lifetime cocoon (fairly) unscathed. Acceptance will come quicker if you proactively try to learn from your mistakes and vow to never commit them again: we're talking to you, point-and-giggle-er. If you need help fully achieving this stage, write to us for advice -- our tough love can be quite soul cleansing.

 

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