Although self-esteem is the kind of topic that you've probably read quite a bit about over the years, be honest—when's the last time you checked out an article that was totally devoted to developing your sexual self-esteem? I was inspired to do this because, one day, while a client was sharing with me a series of poor sexual encounters she experienced, I asked her if she felt that she loved herself. She didn't even pause before she responded with an emphatic, "Yes! I love myself a lot." I paused before saying, "How can that be when you chose such unhealthy partners?" She was dead silent for about a minute.
I know a lot of us don't want to face the reality that who we chose to date, have sex with and/or love says a lot about how we feel about ourselves and what we think we deserve, but ignoring the facts doesn't make them any less relevant or true. I can speak from very up close and personal experience that the more you strengthen, not just your overall self-esteem but your confidence as it directly relates to you and your sexuality, the more you'll make wiser decisions and, the better your sexual experiences will actually become. Are you ready to learn some specific ways to take your sexual self-esteem to a higher level? I've got 10 for ya.
10 Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Confidence
1. Look At Yourself Naked. Every Day.
I don't care what kind of impression the media tries to give you, as a marriage life coach, I can personally vouch for the fact that we as women tend to be way more critical of our bodies than men are; especially the men who are in committed relationships with us. Shoot, most of them are so excited, just to have the privilege and pleasure of being able to "partake" that they are not nearly as nit-picky about breast and booty size, "rolls" or stretch marks.
So, where do we get all of our judgment from? First of all, I don't know if anyone is more self-critical, by nature than the female species. Then, if you add to that, comparing ourselves to other women, looking at social media pics that have filters on them, and, forgetting the fact that a lot of celebrities have a cosmetic surgeon on speed dial—the fantasy of "perfection" can keep us from celebrating the reality of how we were designed, by our Creator, to be.
That's why I say the first thing that all women should do is make a point and purpose to look at themselves naked every day. I don't mean that fast glance you take when you're getting out of the shower. I mean, intentionally staring at yourself, in a full-length mirror, while verbally declaring how beautiful and fabulous you are. Take it up a notch by shouting out all of the things that make you distinctively you. If you're not used to doing this, it might feel weird or silly at first, but I promise you—the more you get used to affirming your body, the more confident you'll become and, the more comfortable you'll be whether you're having sex in the dark or—as a lot of men prefer it—in the light.
2. Conduct a Vaginal Self-Exam
I must admit that, it kind of floors me, just how many women have no idea what their vagina looks like. I mean, if you do any kind of DIY pubic hair maintenance, doesn't that automatically require that you get an up-close-and-very-personal view? Either way, for the sake of being proactive about your genital health and well-being, and so you can get more accustomed to your "lady parts", it's also a good idea to conduct a vaginal self-exam, at least once a month. On the health tip, it can get you used to what your vulva and vagina look like so that you can stay on top of any potential abnormalities. Sexually, well, if you are familiar with all that goes on down there, it can make it that much easier to give your partner a guided tour ("Why You Should Give Yourself A 'Vaginal Self-Exam'"). Feel me?
3. Take More Baths
Over in xoNecole world, we like taking baths so much that we've got articles like "Did You Know There's A Right & A Wrong Way To Take A Bath?", "5 Detox Baths For Ultimate Relaxation & Tranquility" and "Make 'National Bathtub Party Day' Your Favorite Day Of The Year" posted up on our site. We publish these types of pieces because baths are dope on so many different levels. They help to calm and relax us. They can boost our immunity while improving our heart health. They are even able to balance our hormones while moisturizing our skin. As far as our sexual self-esteem is concerned, soaking in a tub that contains essential oils and rose petals in it as we listen to some soft music and sip on a glass of red wine—does anything feel more feminine than that?
I recently watched some members of the All Def Digital team talk about all of the reasons why they would prefer to shower over taking a bath (you can listen to it here; it starts at the 49:46 mark). Personally, whenever people talk about floating in their own dirt, I always wonder, "Unless you've been sweating out in the sun all day or working out, how dirty are you?" But anyway, whether you hop right into the tub or you take a shower and then a bath, do your body and your sexual self-image a favor and treat yourself to a tub soak, at least once a week. There is something that is inexplicably sexy about doing it. There really is.
4. Sex Journal (More Often)
A part of the purpose of journaling, in general, is to recall certain memories and to gain some clarity about what you remember. This is why I'm such a fan of sexual journaling. Whether you're trying to figure out why you choose the partners that you do, how to come up with some sexual deal-breakers (which everyone should have, by the way), how to break some unhealthy patterns, or even what you like and dislike about foreplay, sex and afterplay, setting aside 30-45 minutes, once a week, to do nothing but sex journal can be another way to elevate your sexual self-esteem. Because when you see things clearly, you move…differently. (You can check out "The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)" for more of a breakdown on all of this.)
5. “Dress Up” Underneath
Lord. Before even getting into buying yourself some nice underwear, you might want to read "When Should You Replace Underwear, Make-Up, Bedding, Washcloths & Towels?", just to make sure you ain't been slippin' when it comes to getting some new stuff. One thing I am grateful that my mother ingrained in me is the importance of "dressing up" underneath. What I mean by that is, she was always saying, "A woman's underwear needs to be just as beautiful as the rest of her clothes, even if no one sees it but her." I've been abstinent for many years now, but I still make sure that my undergarment game is on point. And you know what? Doing so does have a way of making me feel pretty sexy. It also gives me the feeling that I've got a seductive secret going on, even if I'm rocking nothing more than a T-shirt and some jeans. (In fact, that's often when I'm wearing the sexiest kind of bra and panties!)
6. Recall Your Best Sexual Memories. “Burn” the Others.
Unfortunately, it's a proven fact that our minds automatically lean towards negativity. That's why, it doesn't surprise me in the least that, whenever I listen to people talk about their sexual past, oftentimes it's the not-so-good stuff that they typically focus on. While, on one hand, it can be helpful to think back to what you did (or who you picked) that you would and wouldn't do (or pick) again, if you only dwell on the "bad", not only could it cause you to overlook the good but it could taint or even jade your overall sexual perspective.
Keeping this in mind, that's why I think it's a good idea to take out a couple hours to actually recall your best sexual memories and jot them down. Reflect on what made them good, how those moments made you feel and why they rank so high to you. Next, ponder the compliments that you've been given, not just when it comes to your performance, but your overall appeal too. Recalling all of the good stuff has a way of making the not-that-great pale in comparison while it helps you to keep your memories in balance. Oh, and as far as the negative stuff, try to not give all of that a lot of energy. Whenever I'm ready to let something go, sometimes what I'll do is to write down what it is and why it's time to release it on a piece of paper; then I burn it. While that doesn't make the recollections go away forever, it is an exercise that lets me feel like I've gotten some of my power back. And that is a confidence booster, on a whole 'nother level, chile.
7. Share Your Sexual Needs with Your Partner (Beforehand)
There are a lot of ways to settle in relationships; let me share one that isn't discussed nearly as much as it should be—the women who go into sex being more concerned about whether they will please their partner than if their partner will be capable of pleasing them in return. And because this is the mindset that they are in, when they happen to be displeased—or, at the very least, not impressed—and then suppress or internalize their emotions (and desires), it can cause them to wonder if their own sexual needs and wants even matter. And that? That can put a real toll on one's sexual self-esteem.
That's why I'm such a huge advocate of couples sharing what their sexual expectations are before engaging in sex together for the first time. Hey, great sex is simply another form of good communication. How fair is it to expect someone to "get you there" if you're not even open to discussing what that requires beforehand? Sexually confident women already know that this is essential. Therefore, they do it without an apology or hesitation.
8. Cultivate Sexual Rituals
Some people are freaked out by the word "ritual", but they shouldn't be. If you go to church every weekend, that's a ritual. In context, a ritual is about a procedure that a religion practices or it's about creating your own type of ceremony. So, when I speak of creating sexual rituals, I simply mean doing things that help you to center in on your sexuality and its power. It could be engaging in some erotic self-focus. It could be meditating alone before participating in sex. It could be intentionally creating the right ambiance and mood for coitus to transpire.
It could be adorning yourself with oils that will relax you and lingerie that will make you feel alluring and exquisite. It could be turning on some sexy music and sitting in silence as the grooves take you in. Whatever it is, just make sure it's something that makes you feel sexy, tranquil, and wonderful. Pick a practice that reminds you of just how special and provocative you are. Because the more you believe it, the harder it will be to let anyone make you think otherwise.
9. Keep a Realistic Perspective
If you're relying on movies, television, R&B songs (c'mon, who really has non-stop sex all night long?) or even your friends' sexual escapades to serve as a forecast for what your sex life will or even should be like and, at the same time, you're not super confident when it comes to sex and your sexuality, that makes total sense. After all, you are living in a fantasy world, a fairy tale, and both of those things are anything but realistic. I'm not saying that sex can't be good, totally amazin' even, but there are tons of people out here who are disillusioned and bitter about all things sex-related, simply because they didn't approach it from a mature and reasonable perspective.
The real is that sometimes sex is awkward. The real is sometimes people have "off nights". The real is that it might take a while for you and your partner to truly get in sync. The real is some of your past partners may be better than your current in certain areas and aspects. The real is that you are human, your partner is as well, and so coitus isn't always gonna be perfect all of the time. But you know what? If you're with a mentally healthy and emotionally sound person, "performance" isn't gonna be nearly as important as connection. And knowing that you are sharing your being with someone who wants to be with you, for you, is one of the best ways to boost your sexual morale.
10. Never Fake It
One of the reasons why I wrote the article, "Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP" is because, while I get why a lot of people do fake it, I don't really think that it's a wise or beneficial thing to do. The definitions of the word "fake" are enough to illustrate my point:
Fake: prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent); to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive
How can you have a high sense of sexual self-worth if you're out here deceiving your partner into thinking the sex is all good, just so they will find you (more) attractive, interesting and/or valuable? Uh-uh, sis. You and your body are way too precious for some foolishness like that.
Love yourself, your body and your time enough to commit to not faking sexual satisfaction. Be confident enough to express when you are pleased and when you are not (do it gently and kindly but do it). The right partner will want you to be pleased, so they will respect you for speaking up. And when you are encouraged to be as open and honest as possible, that is a sexual self-esteem booster like no other!
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports