I have always been a fan of the mantra, "I'd rather regret something I did than something I didn't do." It's served me well in life, for the most part. Mostly I can let go of my past and get excited in the present. But every now and again, the ugly little bobblehead of regret pops up, and I think about things I wish I could change. Like following my first boyfriend to the same university. Dating a guy who hated sex. The one-night stand that still stalks me.
My biggest regrets, it seems, come down to love and sex. And according to a recent study, "Regrets of the Typical American: Findings From a Nationally Representative Sample," I am not alone. When it comes women's regrets, survey says, love tops the list.
For 44 percent of women (from a study of 370 adult Americans), romance is their biggest regret. Only 19 percent of men regret a romantic liaison.
Lead author Neal Roese, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University, blames culture for women's more vocal feelings on romance regrets. "Women are typically charged with the role of maintaining and preserving relationships, so when things go wrong, it's very spontaneous for women to think, 'I should have done it some other way.'"
Should is an ugly word, one I vow every day to work on removing from my vocabulary. Instead of, I should have done this, should have said this, I'm practicing acceptance with what can't be changed. Especially when it comes to love and sex. Instead of thinking I should have had make-up sex for all the wrong reasons, I realize make-up sex is hot after you've actually made up (but not before).
It's how I learn and move on. Regret either brings me closer to my partner, or pushes me further away (single women are more prone to regret relationships than those currently involved). And regret, especially around love, or sex, the kind of sex you do for the wrong reasons -- like revenge, drunkenness, or to have an orgasm that doesn't even happen -- that kind of regret sex can suck the living daylights out of you.
As I work on not sucking, or being made a sucker, I also work on accepting that not everything I do is something I wish I had done. Whether it's a regret for staying in a relationship too long, or for jumping into bed too quickly, regretting makes me cold, hard, and unlovable.
How do you deal with regret in your relationships? Do you have a lot of regret?
Image via calmenda/Flickr