What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?

What Advice Would You Give Your Younger Self?
Love, Sex

Love advice Essence readers would give themselves if they could turn back time.

The plethora of adages about wasted youth and our retrospective clarity on mistakes of the past exist for a reason. We all learn the hard way, perhaps especially in love, and are left with the scars and cringe-worthy journal entries to prove it.

Essence.com asked its readers to write advice to their younger selves, as if they were stepping back in time to give themselves a good, hard, loving shake. The comments shared are both poignant and revealing, much like Pepper Schwarz's "5 Things I Wish I Knew About Sex at 30." Here's a handful of 10 favorite bits of love-tested wisdom:

1. Never date an ex (it is very much like licking your own vomit).

2. Pay close attention to how guys treat their parents, especially MOM, because that is most likely how they are going to treat you as a woman; seriously consider if and when you decide to have children.

3. I will never give my heart to another man. I have been used and abused both phycially and mentally. This has taught me to keep my confidence level very high because dealing with the wrong person can bring you down.

4. I would have cherished my body more... I would have made sure that he loved me more before I decided to give it away—not just because he wanted to do it, and I thought that was what I was supposed to do to make him happy. Also, I would have loved me...

5. Oral s.e.x. is s.e.x.

6. I don't know who said it first, but never treat someone as a priority when they merely see you as an option. You are the bomb! You are so freakin' smart that others are jealous of you! You can do more, be more, have more!

7. Don't have kids!

8. I should have married for money and not for love.

9. Always, always, ALWAYS!!!! have protected sex...

10. Marry the man God sends, don't ever settle. Marrying the wrong person can give you a lifetime of regret—it is not worth the drama. You marry the man and his family.