I feel awful about my previous sex life, but am worried if it's really okay for me to change.

I'm very embarrassed to say that over the last year I have been very promiscuous, as in to having sex with 15 different partners. I have gotten over that phase, and I have sworn to stay celibate for at least six months. My question is whether or not it is possible for me to be tight again? Also, if it would be right for me to make a future boyfriend wait a while, before having sex with him? I mean, I gave it up to someone I just met, why would I make my 'boyfriend' wait? Please help, I feel so horrible with myself. I think that staying celibate will help me regain respect with myself, but, of course, I can never forget it.
Heather Corinna replies:

If you feel like -- and you seem to be very clearly saying you do -- that YOU need to hold off on sex with someone new, for YOU, that's really all you need to know. You're the only person waiting needs to be okay with. If it's not okay with anyone else, too bad for them.

Some not-as-yet boyfriend doesn't have to be okay with you asking him to take things slow just because you haven't with others. Sex with a partner isn't about making sure you've had some level of service that's equal for all customers, sweetheart. It's about you only having sex -- of any kind -- with a partner at a time and pace that you feel good about, physically and emotionally. It's not about providing someone a service, it's about sharing an intimacy that just happens to also feel really good physically.

As to why you might "make" a boyfriend "wait" when you didn't a one-night stand? Well, one reason might be if you're invested in not having just a one-night-stand with that person. It's always okay for people not to wait if that's what feels right, but one bonus in forestalling sex with a new date is that you get to take the time to develop other aspects of the relationship first -- which also lets you better determine if you even WANT to have sex with that person -- and each have a chance to talk about what you want from a sexual relationship before having one to be sure you're on the same page. Plus, if you're really sure, as you clearly are, that you don't want something that is just a sexual relationship right now, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to initiate or agree to one.

You also don't have to worry about vaginas somehow becoming "loose" with sexual activity of any quantity. The vagina is a muscle: it doesn't lose tone in using it. It also is a closed canal when we aren't putting something inside of it, and it's "looseness" and "tightness" primarily changes just based on how aroused and relaxed a person is. Often, super-tightness is because we are nervous or fearful or not at all aroused. If we get aroused, our vaginal openings and canals loosen, and then when whatever sex is finished, or our arousal passes, it goes right back to where it was before. Childbirth rarely causes permanent changes to vaginas: if an infants head and body can't usually make a permanent change, expecting a penis or hands to is...well, expecting way more of a penis or hands than either are capable of.

I do want to ask you to give yourself a break. Seriously.

You've tried having a generous handful of casual sex partners, and you found out that that's not your thing. REALLY not your thing.

But that really is all that's going on. It is right and good for some people, but apparently, not for you, and now you know that. So from here on out, you have a better idea of what choices might be better for you. Go you! There is nothing wrong with someone for whom casual sex IS right, and there's nothing wrong with you for seeing if it was for you and finding out that it wasn't. Even if your motivation for doing it wasn't coming out of a great place, that's still okay, and it still doesn't mean you need to feel ashamed or angry with yourself. Okay?

Feeling ashamed and terrible about oneself and one's sexual history has never benefitted anyone. It hinders us in making sound choices, lowers our esteem (which often contributes to us making BAD choices), makes us sick and is just a serious waste of time and energy that could be used for much better things. Let it go, gal: it's only going to bring you down. Self-esteem and dignity don't come from how many people a person has or has not slept with, and that also can't change those things: these are things that come from you, owning your life and your choices -- which you can only make as best you can, and will sometimes, being human, not always make perfectly -- and not doubting your own value and self-worth.

So, sounds like you have a pretty good handle on what you want and need for yourself: a period of celibacy, and then to try taking things slower with any future partners. There's nothing in the world wrong with either of those things, and not a single one of us is somehow obligated to make our sexual future be the same as our sexual past.

What's important is simply that you're choosing what you now think or know is best for you. Here are some pieces to help you in that and speak more to your concerns about vaginal "looseness":

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