Self-deprecating. Afraid to take risks. Never really satisfied. Constantly comparing yourself to other people. Worrying. Not stating your real needs and desires. Can't accept compliments. Super defensive. Overthinking. Unforgiving (including when it comes to self). Do you know what all of these things have in common? They're all telltale signs that someone is way too critical of themselves, that they judge themselves too often and/or too harshly. Now take a moment and think about how these 10 things translate in the bedroom?
If you know that you are more self-deprecating than you ever should be, if your partner has brought up to you that you don't take enough risks, if you can pinpoint several times when you have overthought yourself out of an orgasm, if your partner is getting more and more frustrated because you don't tell him how to meet your needs or because you shoot down every compliment that he gives you — chile, this was written with you totally in mind. Because the reality is, a lot of people aren't satisfied in bed and it has nothing to do with the person who is on top, underneath or beside them. It's all about the one who is staring at them in the mirror before they get in bed to begin with.
If you know that's you, it's time to make the self-judging madness stop. Here are seven suggestions on how to get onto the path to doing just that.
First Up: Where Did You Get Your Body Image From?
Once upon a time, I was a teen mom director for the local chapter of a national non-profit. That's a long way of saying that I would go into public high schools and help young women (sometimes young men too) to understand the power of their sexuality from a mental and emotional standpoint. One of the things that I shared with them is adolescence is such a fragile time and teen hormones are so rampant (and borderline reckless) that it's important to really learn how to love your individuality on your own before sharing your body with someone else. It's sad how many of them — and us — have to learn this lesson the hard way by allowing others to affect how we view our bodies because we share ourselves with them before we understand our true value.
That's why I think it's important to start right here. If you know that you are hypercritical of yourself during sex, first explore how you define body image, how you feel about your own body, and where you got the ideas that you currently have. Because the reality is if you've not a negative view of your body, it didn't come out of nowhere. Something or someone (usually several "things" and "ones") got you to feeling the way that you do and once you get to the root cause of these kinds of things, the easier it is to do some self-love journaling and mental reprogramming (check out "Self-Love Journaling & Why You Should Be Doing It" and "These 10 Hacks Will Help You Love Your Body More") so that your body image isn't from childhood brokenness, wacked out messages in adolescence or some sort of fear or trauma.
You can cultivate your body image from a much healthier space which will definitely help you to be less judgmental — both in and out of the bedroom.
Secondly: Stop Comparing Yourself to IG Models. Men Aren’t As into Them As You Think They Are.
I watch a lot of YouTube Black manosphere content and if there's one thing that the majority of them do not sing the praises of, it's IG models. Hey, I'm not knocking them. I'm just saying that I see video after video after video of men saying that they feel like between the photoshopping, filters, and agendas in the bios, they aren't really impressed beyond those ladies being something pretty to look at before they move on to something else. I think this is important to put on record because if there's a part of you who is too hard on yourself because you think that being sexy means you should have perfect skin, a tiny waist, and the biggest ass on the planet — please free yourself of that illusion and delusion. All of this reminds me of my favorite scene from the movie500 Days of Summer where one of the characters describes the woman of his dreams, then he explains what his girlfriend doesn't have that his dream girl does and then he ends with how his girlfriend is so much better at the end of the day because she's real — most importantly, they've got something real…together.
Listen, we've all got people who we think are fine and some mo' fine. I'm also willing to bet that you've come across some hotties on your socials. Yet how ridiculous would it be for your partner to withhold sex from you or not give his all in bed because he feels bad that he doesn't look like some random in a picture? Social media has its pros. It's also got its cons. Causing people to constantly critique themselves, especially to the point where they project their negative thoughts onto their partner, is definitely a downside. No doubt about it.
Third: Men Are Not Nearly As Critical of Us As We Are: Sex or Body-Wise
Speaking of what men think — take this how you want but I really do think it's interesting how much a lot of us spend time, resources, blood, sweat, and tears on stuff that men aren't all that drawn to. And before you blow a gasket, if you are honestly and sincerely getting BBLs, extensions, long eyelashes, breast augmentations, and whatever else you're interested in for yourself — do that. I mean that. All I'm saying is I talk to men, every day, on some level, for a living. And something that about 80 percent of them tell me is they like natural beauty — natural hair, natural bodies, not a ton of make-up. And the fact that hearing that triggers a lot of women fascinates me because how would you feel if men tried to tell you that what you prefer is wrong?
Anyway, where I'm going with this is a lot of times overthinking leads to being hypercritical, and being hypercritical leads to us creating movies in our minds where we think men have a problem with breasts that don't sit up underneath our necks, hair that isn't down to our butt or skin that doesn't have one stretch mark on or dimple in it. As a husband of 15-plus years once said to me, "All of this 'I don't think you're attracted to me' stuff that my wife sends me through is unnecessary. If you don't feel good about yourself, let's get you there but don't put your insecurities on me as if I have the problems with you that you have. I chose you. I'm still choosing you. I'm not thinking about the changes your body has gone through nearly as much as you are. Hell, I just wanna enjoy the body I've been blessed with." I hope the people in the back heard that.
Oh, and if you need some help with feeling better about yourself, outside of what your partner thinks, check out "10 Sensuous Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Esteem".
Fourth: Turn the Light on Sometimes. No, Really!
How about I know a woman who has been with a man for almost five years now and he's still never seen her fully naked. What in the world? She prefers to have sex at night, in pitch-black darkness. Even then, she finds some sort of reason to keep a T-shirt or bra on because she doesn't look how her breasts look during sex. Recently, she told me that it's starting to take a toll on her relationship (gee…ya think?) because her partner is finding her hiding herself to be somewhat juvenile and borderline ridiculous.
"What you need to do is have sex with the lights on," I told her. Yes, she looked at me like I was crazy, but I meant what I said. For one thing, no one said that you had to have bright overhead lighting going on. A blue, red, or purple light bulb or some lit candles can create a really beautiful and romantic setting. Secondly, men are stimulated visually, so while feeling your body is definitely a turn-on, seeing it can take his entire experience to another level. Third, I find that sex with the lights on can help to cultivate intimacy in a more profound kind of way because it's easier to maintain eye contact that way. And last, if you're someone who constantly judges yourself during sex, you're not gonna get past that by always hiding in the dark.
Once you "bring things into the light", it'll be easier for you to come to the realization that the fear that you had wasn't as big of a deal as you initially thought. That will help you to become more confident which will make you feel sexier which will make sex that much better — for you and for him.
Fifth: Be Intentional About Not Seeing Sex As a Competition
If you've read my content on this site long enough, something that you've definitely heard me say before is, "If I said that you were cute, I just judged you. That's how I know that people don't have a problem with being 'judged'; they have a problem with being criticized and/or held accountable for their words and actions." Just think — beauty pageants have judges. Dancing with the Stars has judges. You get where I am going with this. And judges are there to decide who did something the best.
OK, but why would you or your partner be in this kind of headspace during sex? What I mean by that is the two of you shouldn't be "judging each other", you should be enjoying each other. And if there's a part of you that's like, "I hear you, Shellie but I can't help but wonder how much prettier, sexier or better skilled the women who came before me were" — again, he's with you now and you didn't have to twist his arm (right?). Besides, every single sexual experience is different. Therefore, whatever you bring to the table — bed, shower…wherever — is gonna be unique all on its own because you are. So, while it may be human to have those kinds of thoughts, try not to dwell on them too much because since there's only one you, there is chemistry, energy, and a dynamic that only you can bring into his life and set of memories. This brings me to my sixth point.
Sixth: Treat Yourself As an Honor and a Privilege. BECAUSE YOU ARE ONE.
One of the reasons why casual sex, on many levels, triggers me, is because it causes people to treat their partners like a literal definition of the word — apathetic. When you're apathetic, you're indifferent. When you're apathetic, you show little emotion. When you're apathetic, honestly, at the end of the day, you don't really care all that much. And when you're actually allowing someone to enter inside of your body while they have this kind of attitude and energy, do you see how that word (and frame of mind) can be problematic as hell?
Not everyone thinks that sex is solely for marriage or a long-term serious relationship. Understood. At the same time, there is no way that you're going to improve your self-confidence, as far as sex is concerned, if you don't go into each and every experience as seeing yourself as an honor and privilege for someone else to experience. And in order for that to happen — you've got to vet your partners more thoroughly, set standards for what are clear sexual deal-breakers (check out "These Are The Deal-Breakers You Shouldn't Hesitate To Have In The Bedroom"), and make sure that you are treated with a level of respect before ever disrobing.
You know, a "con" to casual sex that isn't discussed enough is the fact that sometimes being in a casual experience with someone who sees you casually is that you can start to see yourself that way too. And here's the thing — you should never allow words like careless, offhand, shallow, superficial, and yes, apathetic to be how you allow others to treat you or to define how you choose to see yourself. When it comes to the sexual decisions that you make, please always keep this in mind.
Seventh and Final Point: Stay in the Moment. Let Go. Enjoy the Ride. Yes, Literally.
I can already tell you — shoot, almost guarantee you — that if you go into sex already looking down on yourself or overthinking every little detail, you're not going to have all that much of a good time. Your partner isn't going to either. Something that I tell my clients often is if there is a time and space when you should just chill out, let go and have as much fun as you possibly can, it's when you're having sex with someone.
So, as difficult as it might initially be, please take all of what I just said to heart and try and just be in the moment with your partner. Verbalize your secret desires. Add some ambiance. Let him show you what he adores most about your body from head to toe (trust me, he's got some favorite spots). STOP THINKING SO HARD. Again, stop judging and do more enjoying. The more you make that your sex mantra, the easier it will be to replace judging yourself and sex with loving yourself and sex. Feel me? Somehow, I bet you do.
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