When I ask people what they most want for their sexual lives, they often say they really want more confidence. Helping people to build confidence is a huge part of my work with clients, and it’s a huge result of the work we do.
So why do most people seem to lack sexual confidence? There are a number of key reasons:
1. Lack of sexual information. I’m sure I sound like an mp3 on perpetual repeat, but this is such a huge part of the confidence equation. How do you build confidence in anything? In large part, by getting good at it, and through practice. In order to do that, you have to educate yourself about it. So you have to educate yourself about the things you want to improve your confidence around. And as with anything, you need not only information, you also need real world skills. When you develop skills to do something well, your confidence grows. So you’ve got to get some adult sex education that’s right for you, and work on the skills that you wanna rock. Maybe you need to learn more about touch, flirtation, communication, or asking for what you want. Maybe you need to learn more about your body and how to have mind-blowing orgasms. Whatever it is you need to learn, learning is a process almost completely controlled by you. That’s great news.
2. There is no way to compare your sexual skills. As much as I discourage people from comparing themselves to others, we make natural comparisons to learn something about ourselves. It’s not until you go to someone else’s house that you realize that not every family yells as the base of communication. It’s not until your professor tells you a grade breakdown that you realize you did really great, or could do better. It’s not until you realize that drawing or singing doesn’t come naturally to everyone else, that you realize you have a gift. With sex, there is no basis of comparison for how you have sex (that is based in reality). Porn is not real. Reality TV isn’t real. Soap operas aren’t real. The questions in Cosmo aren’t always real. So there is always a question mark about how you are “doing sex” and whether it’s right. And even if you do get to see real people doing it, you aren’t inside their bodies or heads, and you don’t know how it really feels for them. This leads to perpetual insecurity in nearly everyone about one of life’s most important things.
3. The media does its damndest to make you sexually insecure. When you do compare yourself, it’s bound to be an unattainable ideal if it’s based in the media. This sets the bar high. We can’t all be Brad, George, Maxwell, Angelina, Madonna, or Beyonce, or whomever the sexy flavor of the moment is. Our imaginations run wild about how great sexy stars must be sexually because the camera/Photoshop/editing/PR teams, etc. are all designed to make them look really good at sex and seduction, even if they are totally awkward in real life (ever see George Clooney unplugged? Just sayin’.) They always have the perfect line, perfect outfit, perfect body, or perfect flirty come-back. Add all the products you think you need to be desirable and this sexual confidence thing is a losing battle.
4. It’s hard to discuss sex and air out issues. When you talk about something that is eating at you, you get clarity about where the other person is and you can let things go, choosing to focus on what really matters. Talking about things that are up in relationships can give you a confidence reboot or help build it because you know where you stand with the other person. When you remain silent about issues—particularly sexual ones—you stay in a place of shame or insecurity because you have no feedback or information to reframe the stories you might be creating in your head and help you improve the situation. Sexually, this can be death to a relationship. I know: I talk to people all the time who tell me things they don’t even tell their partners because they don’t know how to talk about them. If you know what the problem or issue is, then you can work on it. Total sexual confidence builder when you learn to have adult sexual conversations.
5. Going for it is challenging. It’s hard for most people to ask for what they want, which is an expression of confidence. By definition, this includes an intimacy with your own desire. When you have that inner knowing and familiarity with your true desire, it makes it a lot easier to ask for it and get it. Of course, when you are dealing with someone who is insecure, and you confidently ask for what you really want, that can intimidate them. They have to step up their game and meet you where you are or you are going to miss each other, create a poor power dynamic, or have unmet needs. The more you go for what you want and get it, the more you build the confidence to keep going for it. If you get shot down, accused of being demanding, or your needs don’t get met when you ask, you might take a blow to your confidence.
Most of us have some work to do in this area. The great thing about confidence is that it comes in different flavors. Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll talk about those flavors, and how to figure out your own Confidence Type so you know which Lego kit you are working with and what you can build out of it. It’s essential to build on your strengths as you develop your sexual confidence, and no matter what, you’ve got to build that confidence to have the best possible sex life.
What blocks you from acting confidently in your sexuality and relationships? Elise, I’m thinking a LOT about this right now and I’d love to hear additional things that get in the way for you. Will you take a moment to hit reply and tell me the top 1-3 things that stop you? If I’ve left any out in the above list, I’d like to hear from you what you think. Share your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter!