I can remember when I was younger, the way a frog would get stuck in my throat whenever I wanted to express something in the throes of a sexual situation. I now knowÂ that that feeling is not unusual. Many people struggle to tell a partner what they really wantâwhether itâs a tiny adjustment or an exotic fantasy. As a sexual empowerment coach, I help women find their âvoiceâ to do just that.
It all starts with the way you talk to yourself, and the stories you carry with you. They are embedded with beliefs, some positive (Iâm totally lovable, I am a fantastic kisser) and some negative (My bellyâs too flabby,Â I'm defective because I don'tÂ have orgasms). That internal voice affects your external one, and how you feel communicating about sex.
With my clients Iâve noticed that there are five common mental blocks that discourage women from sharing their desires. But if they can overcome those hang ups, the rewards reach far beyond the bedroom. The ability to talk openly with a partner about what gives you pleasure (and what doesnât) is incredibly empowering, and ultimately leads to deeper and more meaningful intimacy.
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Youâre afraid of being judged
This fear holds people back more than nearly anything else. The anxiety gets exacerbated because we donât know how other people really have sex, or think about sex. So itâs easy to assume youâre somehow not ânormal.â When you judge yourself, you worry your partner will think the same. The result: You filter all of your desires, and typically decide in the end theyâre not worth saying out loud.
Try this: Imagine for a moment what it would be like if you didnât fear judgment. Make a list of what youâd doâand how youâd feelâif you followed your sexual instincts. Inspired? Sometimes itâs enough to say to your partner, âI want to ask for something sexually, and Iâm afraid of what youâll think, but Iâd like to be more honest.â Then see how your partner reacts. With the right person, showing a little vulnerability can lead to a more authentic relationship and far more satisfying sex.
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When it comes to sexuality, insecurity can be an enormous source of pain. Maybe you are afraid your partner wonât be happy with your request. Or you think you donât deserve whatever it is you desire. Maybe you fear you canât deliver what your partner desires. You might even convince yourself that he or she will stray for that reason. Clients come to me with that concern all the time: They donât want to lose their partner, but worry theyâre on different pages sexually.
Try this: Determine whether you feel insecure personally, or in the relationship. If itâs about you, youâve got some work to do so you donât end up projecting your self-doubt onto your partner. (âYou think sheâs prettier than me.â âIf I were more [fill in the blank], youâd be more into me.â)
If your anxiety is rooted in the relationship, consider the possibilities: Is there a real threat? Do you think about cheating? Or are you just out of sync? Maybe your relationship is in need of a tune-up, or maybe you simply need more affirmation that your partner is attracted to you.
Youâre not really sure what you want
Many women I work with arenât even clear on what their sexual options are. How can you make inviting requests if you donâtâ know whatâs available? But the trouble is, because youâre not talking about your desire at all, you stay stuck in a perpetual state of sexual confusion and dissatisfaction.
Try this: Read some erotica, watch racy movies. Talk to your friends about what they enjoy. Go to a workshop at your local feminist woman-owned-and-operated sex toy shop, like Sugar in Baltimore or Smitten Kitten in Minneapolis. Better yet, go to a sexuality conference for lay people, like Playground in Toronto or Sex Down South in Atlanta.
The point is to explore and get excited about the possibilities. If you donât do the internal work of discovering and embracing your wishes, it will affect what you share with your partner, and all that you donât.
You dread rejection
One of the most common reasons people avoid expressing their desires is fear of the word ânoââbecause ânoâ to them feels like rejection. You may even be projecting your fear onto your partner, by assuming that your feedback or instruction will somehow injure their feelings.
Try this: Stop taking ânoâ personally. There are so many reasons people say ânoâ that have nothing to do with you. Most of the time, ânoâ is is a form of self-care; the person is setting a boundary that they need, at that time. Learning to hear ânoâ and not feel hurt is a skill we all need to master, especially in the sexual realm. Because if you spend your life hiding from rejection, youâll never get what you truly need. YouÂ have to actually ask before you get aÂ "yes."
Youâre doing what you think youâre supposed to do
As a society, we have a limited way of viewing sex and sexual pleasure. Itâs known as the male model of sex. You know, the idea that intercourse (especially for heterosexuals) is the main eventâdespite the fact that âforeplayâ is usually what gets women offâand sex ends when the man ejaculates. We learn this formula in sex ed, and are exposed to it constantly in the media. As a result, weâre conditioned to strive for vaginal orgasms that the majority ofÂ women never have.
Try this: Talk to your partner about trying sex that is not focused onÂ intercourse. That conversation can open the door for the two of you to start thinking more creatively. Together, work on developing a menu of sexual options to order from. It can include some stuff you love, and some stuff you want to try. Remember that people of all genders get frustrated by that traditional model of sex. Your partner will probably thank you for being bold enough to question it.
Amy Jo Goodard is the author ofÂ Woman on Fire: 9 Elements to Wake Up Your Erotic Energy, Personal Power, and Sexual Intelligence.