Ghosts of Boyfriends Past

This weekend involved some much needed, but mostly typical, spring cleaning. The magnolia tree is in bloom and that involves daily sweeping of the patio and back stoop, which I enjoy. The sound of my sweeping broom amid a quiet morning reminds me of mornings spent in India.

Then there was my yard work – mostly composed of buying flowers, digging holes and planting. A little periwinkle cutting and re-planting. Later on indoors, going through my stacks of mail, I sorted “keep” versus “do something about this” versus “recycle.”

And then, at some point, my eyes settled on this (pictured) vase of rose blooms, a vase that I’ve had for some unknown number of years. It’s filled – or rather, was filled – with dried pink, red and yellow roses given to me mostly by men I’ve dated and/or with whom I’ve been in relationships. Just like some other vase of flowers that was filled with blooms and got tossed in my  last move.

This weekend, I had enough nostalgia to hold the vase up to take this picture but not enough to keep the blooms any longer. I’m not even sure who gave me the flowers in this particular vase, though I have some vague ideas about 2 or maybe 3 of the men. It made me think of the ways so many of us hold on to the past, often for no good reason, not really afraid of letting go… just not actually letting go. What a relief to find myself in a place where I didn’t have to think about it. After a quick photo op, I dumped the blooms into the trash and continued with my cleaning, ghosts of boyfriends past and all.

There was a time when someone wonderful stretched out an open hand, with a lovely bouquet, and a time when I smiled and said thank you and searched for a vase for those flowers to call home. But those times are now so long ago that the someone wonderful has, like me, likely forgotten what it meant for us to wonder what it would be like to date or where things would head or whether we would last. Those particular relationships are gone. I’m gone. And so it was time to move on and let the blooms join the trash and do the whole “circle of life” thing.

On the other hand, there’s interesting timing involved. Though I tossed the blooms down the trash, today my newest book was released a few weeks ahead of its April 3 release date. As of today, Sex Made Easy is available on Amazon. And in it, for the first time in my 10+ years of writing about sex, I’ve written a bit about some of my own personal experiences with sex, love and lust. They’re stories that, years earlier, I was probably too close to write about in any way that could have been helpful. At the time, it might have made me sad to write about or else perhaps it would have been more about me (more therapeutic or cathartic) than about you, the reader, and what I wanted to share with you about multiple orgasms, clitoral exploration, vaginal cuts, premature ejaculation, learning to experience orgasm, and so on. (Yes, all of that – and more – is in there.)

And so it’s been an interesting few days of getting rid of the ghosts of boyfriends past and yet seeing how my past has shaped me, too. And how my past – should you read Sex Made Easy – may end up shaping you as well.

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About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at