When I was younger, it never crossed my mind to tell partners what I enjoyed during sex. I would enter sexual experiences simply wanting my partner to have a good time (and hoping that I, too, would enjoy the experience). I had a hard time expressing when something didn’t feel good; even when I knew what would make the sex more enjoyable, I wasn’t confident enough to communicate my needs to partners.
As a sex educator, I now know that sexual confidence comes in many forms. First, it is having the self-assurance to seek out a fantastic partner—instead of just going for anyone who happens to ask you out. Second, it is being brave enough to express precisely what would make a sexual encounter feel amazing for you, even if it isn’t exactly the most exciting thing for your partner. Finally, it is acknowledging that you deserve pleasure and enjoyment in your sexual, romantic, and daily life.
Ready to reinvent yourself in the bedroom? Below are some techniques to work on boosting your sexual confidence.
Set the scene.
Confidence is fluid. Certain people, environments, and feelings may bring out the confident part of ourselves, while others may hinder it. I suggest purposefully putting yourself in settings that make you feel good, and if possible, avoiding the people, places, and types of interactions that make you feel less confident.
For me, I feel most confident when I am beating men in billiards (ideally in front of their friends), dancing or listening to live music, and taking care of my body. If I have an important date, I can get into this zone by engaging in one of these activities. I can also curate the date so I feel in my element.
Think about what makes you feel good—it may be wearing a particular piece of clothing, engaging in a specific activity, or hanging with people who make you feel confident. Then bring as much of this energy into your life and sexual encounters as you can.
Rejection is always a possibility.
My life became so much more enjoyable when I stopped being so afraid of rejection. I have become that person who walks up to someone enticing and says the first thing that pops into my head. Most of the time, folks admire my openness, and it creates a memorable moment. However, about a quarter of the time, I misread the signals and cause an uncomfortable situation.
By being brave, I allow all potential opportunities for connection. I have learned that rejection has very little to do with me, and more to do with how my personality might (or might not) mesh with others’.
Next time you encounter someone you find attractive, see how it feels to say hi. Best case scenario: you may start a romance. Worst case scenario: you may feel uncomfortable for a couple of seconds because you misread the nonverbal signs. Either way, it is worth the risk!
Open communication is a big conduit to sexual confidence. While interacting sexually with a new partner, it’s important to remember that they want you to experience as much pleasure as possible. They don’t want you to fake it, or feel like you might offend them or ruin the moment by expressing what you want. You’ll find that the sex becomes more enjoyable for both partners when you communicate your desires.
To find your voice, it helps to rethink the way you approach sex. For example, I used to feel very self-conscious about how long I take to orgasm (usually about the amount of time it takes to watch half of Titanic). When it took a long time, I would get in my head about it, which made experiencing pleasure that much harder. I spent the whole time wondering if my partner was still having fun.
I then worked on reframing my thoughts about my perceived orgasm issue. I realized that folks sexually engaging with me wanted me to feel as much pleasure as possible. Before someone begins giving me pleasure, I express that I take a while to orgasm, but I will assume they are having a great time unless they tell me otherwise. If they end up going down on me for 40 minutes, how lucky are they to be able to provide me with so much pleasure for so long? If there is something that makes you self-conscious, see if you can reframe the way you think about it and work on vocalizing it.
We are more likely to take criticisms to heart and not embrace the kind things that folks say about us. This is related to the profound psychological phenomenon that losses hurt more than the pleasure we get from gains. For example, people are more unhappy about losing five dollars than they are happy about finding five dollars on the street. We tend to give the negative more power! By understanding this, you can consciously make an effort to trust when folks say positive things about you. (Because you are fantastic!)
Hang with positive people.
When you spend enough time with someone, you may pick up their mannerisms. For example, when you hang out with self-conscious folks who complain a lot, you may begin to follow suit. On the other hand, if you hang out with genuinely positive folks who are confident and happy with themselves, this too will make it easier for you to feel self-love and acceptance.
It took me a long time to figure out that my old crew didn’t make me feel great about myself. I would leave interactions feeling self-conscious, unheard, and unsure what these people even liked about me. Since I’ve become more confident, it has become a lot easier to notice how I feel around different people—and only hang with folks who value what I have to offer. When spending time with various friends or partners, notice the way that you feel about yourself. If it is not favorable, I suggest bringing it up to your people or finding folks that value you for YOU.
Sexual confidence is something that can be cultivated. Notice when you feel in your element and try to invite more of these moments into your life. See if you are holding onto any thoughts that aren’t serving you. If you find that you are clinging to outdated, negative beliefs, work on communicating and shifting them. In essence, know how great you are, and it will be easier for others to see you shine!