Let’s talk about how you treat you. Believe it or not, your relationship with yourself has an enormous impact on your sex life. By improving your sexual confidence you can create the sex life you've always fantasized about with your partner.
What is sexual confidence?
Sexual intercourse is a very vulnerable action, and with it, may come a great deal of anxiety or discomfort. If you don't have a high sexual self-esteem, this can make improving sex with your partner challenging.
If you think about humans from the prehistoric era, there were many situational stressors that an individual would need to consider before they started trying to make a family safely. Food for nourishment, shelter from inevitable predators, and a plethora of other obstacles would be faced before one could even consider starting a family.
Because of this, human’s bodies have created a security system to regulate sexual interactions. Very basically, if a situation is negative, sex is a no go. In order to successfully and safely survive it’s crucial to be able to tell when sex is okay.
If your body's security system is giving you a stressful red light, chances are your sexual confidence will be low.
How does this relate to today?
Luckily, we don’t face the same hardships that cavemen faced. However, there are still many stressors that we encounter in our everyday lives in the modern day.
Basic needs still must be met before an individual can become vulnerable enough for successful sexual activity.
Here’s where your self-confidence comes in. How you think about yourself is directly correlated to how you feel about yourself sexually. Negative self-image or worries about intercourse can detract from your sexual self-esteem. Stress can preoccupy your mind, preventing your body from properly preparing for sex.
If your body is in panic mode, the last priority on the list is sex with your partner!
If you don't understand the clear link between stress and sexual arousal, this normal bodily shut down response to stress can make you really doubt yourself. Underestimating the negative impact of stress can lead to lack of sexual confidence, and thus causing a lack of self-esteem, sexual performance and sexual desires.
Am I thin enough?
Am I big enough?
Am I not lasting long enough?
Will my partner still like my post-pregnancy body?
These are common questions that you may ask yourself internally. And unfortunately, often, answer internally too, without even speaking to your partner. Typically, the dialogue you do imagine for your partner is less than ideal.
Alas, to our partner, this internal dialogue can appear on the outside as “shutting down,” or “numbing,” or even avoidance of sexual activity altogether.
While you’re enveloped in this self-deprecating internal monologue, your body begins to register the stress and switch over to “protection mode.” This is when a relationship can begin to suffer. A partner can feel left out, both physically and mentally, and it can begin to manifest in superficial ways.
We started sleeping in different beds.
They won’t wear lingerie or try new things in the bedroom.
We only have sex in one position with the lights off.
I can’t stay hard. I can’t get wet.
This cycle can feel rejecting and bewildering to your partner. Sometimes this can start a negative cycle of its own.
How do I fix my low sexual confidence?
This may sound terrifying, but one of the best ways to improve your sexual confidence with your partner is to talk about it with them! While it might seem uncomfortable to present yourself in this way, it is most likely what will end up attracting them and pulling them closer.
Vulnerability fuels connection. Bringing your worries to your partner helps you two get more intimate. It creates closeness.
Want more intimacy?
You need to have the most important ingredient: emotions.
Think of your favorite sex scene in a movie. What is going on right before the passion starts? A dangerous almost deadly encounter? The sharing of a big secret? A vulnerable unveiling? There is no passion without risk. You need some fuel!
Now of course, I am not advocating for stirring the pot or getting into a near death experience just to have good sex with your spouse. However, it’s important to clarify, the risk you take in sharing something emotional is the exact fuel you need to improve your sexual self-esteem.
When mask our fears and vulnerabilities from our partner, we rob them of the opportunity to comfort us. Even worse, we rob the relationship of an opportunity for intimacy.
By disclosing the narratives you tell yourself, you give your partner the chance to edit and clarify to make things more safe and secure, rather than being alone with those awful thoughts. By sharing, you’re giving them the chance to show you caring.
By bravely disclosing, you give your partner an authentic look at you, and nothing is more alluring than that. After all, you’re the one they want to be with!
Pleasure vs. Performance
To improve your sexual self confidence with your partner, it’s crucial to focus on the right aspects of your sexual experience. It is much less about the mechanics of your sex, and more about how you’re feeling.
Simply stated, Does it feel good? Do more. Does it feel bad? Do less.
Unfortunately, in the United States we are inundated with standards and models about sex that are less than encouraging. In fact, these are often counterproductive and pressuring.
Rarely, are there accurate portrayals of sex in the media. Many shows and movies put all the attention in the wrong spots. Things like crazy positions, impeccable bodies, or even standardizing the order in which people do certain sexual acts while they are intimate can all preoccupy you from paying attention to your partner and your body.
The Ugly Truth About Pleasurable Sex
Honestly, sometimes the things that feel the best might not be the prettiest or coolest positions. You may have different timing, enjoy some sexual acts and not others and need to reposition or even stop. This is real.
By pressuring yourself to perform a certain way sexually, you detract from the sensational experience you could be feeling right in that moment.
What would it be like to pay attention to more about how your body feels and less about what it’s doing?
What would it be like to share those sensations with your partner?
While it may be unnerving at first to let go of that cultural noise you’ve been programmed with, staying in tune with your pleasure and sharing this with your partner can really improve your sexual confidence.
If the goal is the feeling, the how we get there becomes a lot less important. Free yourself, focusing on pleasure rather than performance can help both you and your partner tune into what’s important and have a more fulfilling sexual experience.
For more help on how to explore and communicate these vulnerable feelings to improve your sexual self-esteem, schedule a session today at Cycles Couples Counseling.