5 Mental Blocks That Are Ruining Your Sex Life
And how to get over each one.
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 wantâ€”whether itâ€™s a tiny adjustment or an exotic fantasy. As a sexual empowerment coach, I help women find their â€œvoiceâ€ 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 (Iâ€™m totally lovable, I am a fantastic kisser) and some negative (My bellyâ€™s 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 Iâ€™ve 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 doesnâ€™t) 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 donâ€™t know how other people really have sex, or think about sex. So itâ€™s easy to assume youâ€™re somehow not â€œnormal.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 theyâ€™re not worth saying out loud.
Try this: Imagine for a moment what it would be like if you didnâ€™t fear judgment. Make a list of what youâ€™d doâ€”and how youâ€™d feelâ€”if you followed your sexual instincts. Inspired? Sometimes itâ€™s enough to say to your partner, â€œI want to ask for something sexually, and Iâ€™m afraid of what youâ€™ll think, but Iâ€™d 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 wonâ€™t be happy with your request. Or you think you donâ€™t deserve whatever it is you desire. Maybe you fear you canâ€™t 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 donâ€™t want to lose their partner, but worry theyâ€™re on different pages sexually.
Try this: Determine whether you feel insecure personally, or in the relationship. If itâ€™s about you, youâ€™ve got some work to do so you donâ€™t end up projecting your self-doubt onto your partner. (â€œYou think sheâ€™s prettier than me.â€ â€œIf I were more [fill in the blank], youâ€™d 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 arenâ€™t even clear on what their sexual options are. How can you make inviting requests if you donâ€™tâ€™ know whatâ€™s available? But the trouble is, because youâ€™re 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 donâ€™t do the internal work of discovering and embracing your wishes, it will affect what you share with your partner, and all that you donâ€™t.
You dread rejection
One of the most common reasons people avoid expressing their desires is fear of the word â€œnoâ€â€”because â€œnoâ€ 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 â€œnoâ€ personally. There are so many reasons people say â€œnoâ€ that have nothing to do with you. Most of the time, â€œnoâ€ is is a form of self-care; the person is setting a boundary that they need, at that time. Learning to hear â€œnoâ€ 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, youâ€™ll 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. Itâ€™s known as the male model of sex. You know, the idea that intercourse (especially for heterosexuals) is the main eventâ€”despite the fact that â€œforeplayâ€ is usually what gets women offâ€”and 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, weâ€™re 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.