Feeling self-conscious after months of lockdown abstinence? Kate Moyle shares 10 ways to boost your sexual confidence post-lockdown
Nervousness in the bedroom isn’t something people like to talk about.
Insecurities, anxieties, fear of rejection, a breakup – there are many reasons somebody may not feel their most confident self and this can lead to an extended amount of time without having sex or what’s known as a dry spell.
Recently though, one of the most common reasons for a lack of sex is no thanks to Covid-19.
Lockdown and social distancing rules have meant that single people and even those in relationships weren’t allowed to see each other let alone sleep with each other.
Coronavirus aside, many of us go through periods of abstinence and the thought of getting intimate again can spark feelings of insecurity and nervousness, which is something I frequently come across in therapy.
It’s very easy for us to build up anxieties over sex because it’s seen as an awkward, uncomfortable and unspoken area of our lives.
Having a lack of sexual confidence doesn’t mean something is wrong with you. Sexual confidence is not about being ‘good’ in bed, having a certain body type, neither does it come from having loads of sex (but that might help).
Also, sexual confidence isn’t something you need a partner to give to you or validate in you. Being sexually confident is accepting sex for what it is – pleasurable and fun.
People would describe a sexually confident person as relaxed rather than self-conscious and someone who doesn’t obsess over rejection or failure. But the truth is, every person has their own fears and anxieties and sex is a two person role, it’s not all on you.
If you’re sexually insecure or feel you just aren’t very good at it, don’t panic. You can combat those negative thoughts, build your sexual confidence and reignite your sex life.
Here are 10 ways to boost sexual confidence post-lockdown…
#1 Ignore the self-destructive thoughts
During sex people often get so wrapped up in what the other person is thinking – Do they find me sexy? Do they think I smell? Do they think I’m good in bed? Do they think I’m making weird noises?
What we forget is, the other person is just as vulnerable as us and probably thinking the same things.
Sex is a two-way thing, it’s not solely down to you to ensure the sex is ‘great’. So forget about what you’re both thinking and just allow the experience to be what it is.
#2 Practice positive affirmations
Confidence starts with how you feel about yourself and getting to know your body. So take a long hard look at yourself in the mirror – preferably naked – in a non-judgmental way.
Being confident in your body means being okay with looking at yourself naked, so check your self-perception, is it negative, self-critical or judgmental? Maybe you need to replace your current internal dialogue with sexually confident messages like:
- All bodies are beautiful.
- I’m enough.
- I’ve got this.
- I am me.
By deliberately steering your internal dialogue toward positive, empowering thoughts, you can increase your level of assurance and confidence.
I also suggest sticking positive affirmation notes on your mirror so that everyday in the run up to a date or being intimate with someone, you are reminded to think confidently about yourself and your body.
The more confidence you have outside of the bedroom, the more likely that confidence will spill into your sex life.
#3 Re-learn what turns you on
My number one piece of advice for boosting your sexual confidence is building a relationship with yourself first by re-learning what feels good for you and what your sexual preferences are.
Begin by masturbating and exploring your own body, noting what feels good and what doesn’t. If you haven’t explored your own body for a while it can be daunting to have someone else do it.
Don’t just focus on masturbation though, all over body touch is also important. By doing this you’re equipping yourself with a good foundation of sexual knowledge which you can then communicate on to a partner.
It also helps stop any in the moment panic of ‘I don’t like that,’ or ‘I don’t know what I like’ which can often disrupt the mood.
#4 Communication is key
Communication is the key to any good sex life. Feeling like you can ask your partner for what you want, expressing what you like and what you don’t like is so important when you’re trying to rebuild sexual confidence.
Just talking about sex in general can be really helpful in boosting someone’s sexual confidence. With a new partner especially, it’s good to set the tone and talk about where you’re at in the bedroom department.
Oh and vulnerability isn’t embarrassing, it can be sexy. Feeling able to be open with your partner and say ‘it’s been a while can we take things slowly,’ or ‘I’m feeling nervous’ helps close the gap and take away the unknown.
It’s the unknown that makes us anxious, because most people aren’t good at managing uncertainty.
#5 Play some music
Figure out whatever you need to do to get in the mood, whether it’s lighting candles or playing music. Do whatever you need to do to switch off and turn on.
If you often feel distracted by other thoughts, background music could help you calm down or at least feel calmer. It could also help you shift your focus and feel more in control of the situation.
#6 Focus on your senses
We only have a certain amount of attention to give out at any one time. If we are distracted by our thoughts or have a busy mind, then we are not fully experiencing the sensations in our body.
Which is unfortunate and ironic considering that fully experiencing sensations in our body is what increases arousal, gives us pleasure, satisfaction and helps us to enjoy the experience more.
If you do find your thoughts wondering and aren’t aroused as you should be, check in with your senses as tuning into them is a great way of switching your attention to the present moment – the right here, right now.
- What can you smell?
- What can you hear?
- What can you see?
- What can you feel?
- What can you taste?
Try describing to yourself the physicality of what’s happening, the sensation of your partner’s skin against yours, their weight, temperature, texture of their body and skin. For example, ‘I can feel my partners hand on my arm,’ or ‘I can feel them kissing my neck’.
#7 Put on your sexy suit
Are you anxious about being naked in front of your partner? Do you only want to have sex in the dark? Are you feeling self-conscious?
The truth is everyone’s idea of a sexy person is subjective, so it’s not necessarily about being someone who the person you’re sleeping with thinks is sexy but it’s about doing what makes you feel sexy. What gives you permission to be your sexiest self.
Especially if you’re sleeping with someone new, shyness in the bedroom is a very common problem. You’re at your most vulnerable after all, but don’t forget they’re vulnerable too.
If you have anxieties of being naked in front of someone else and it makes you feel more confident to wear clothing then try wearing something that feels nice against your skin, like a sexy silky top. This can help to put you in the mood.
Plus, it’s amazing what a sexy pair of undies or a silky nightie can do for your sexual confidence.
#8 Accept that not everyone will like you
If you’re nervous about dating in general before you even get to the sex part, then you need to remind yourself that dating is all about individuals and finding a good fit.
But, if that person isn’t a good fit then it doesn’t mean there is a problem with you, all it means is that the two of you aren’t compatible.
It’s something that we often internalise, ‘but why didn’t that person like me?’ Even if we didn’t like them either, we still find ourselves wondering and sometimes feeling upset by it.
Checking yourself and making sure you’re not internalising everything in a negative way is so important. Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s OK.
#9 Laugh about it
Sex is not some serious experience. It’s not like going for a job interview or taking an important exam. Sex is about fun, relaxing, having fun and letting go. We should be able to laugh about it.
Having sex is just like any other bodily thing and sometimes there will be funny noises, crashing into each other, falling off the bed, butting heads, getting cramp. Sex can also be messy and embarrassing, but it’s all part of the experience.
Using this experience as a point of connection rather than something to be ashamed of will help to lighten the mood.
Plus, there’s nothing wrong with laughing at yourself if you do fall off the bed or a position doesn’t quite go the way you planned. If you allow yourself to have fun and just to be yourself the sex will be more enjoyable and feel more passionate.
#10 Focus on pleasure not performance
Sex is subjective. There is no magic formula for sex and no such thing as a ‘good’ way to have sex.
Enjoyable, fun and consensual – sex is about focusing on what feels good, it shouldn’t be goal orientated.
Whenever you do feel yourself getting caught up in performance pressure in the bedroom, focus instead on your body sensations. Take a deep breath and slow down.
Focus on how things feel, not on how perfect you should appear to be or behave. Oh and it’s not selfish to please yourself in a sexual situation. What could be sexier to a partner than you having a really great and pleasurable time?
Kate Moyle: As a CORST accredited Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist, I specialise in working with those that are struggling with difficulties with their sex lives and sexuality, including many in their twenties and thirties who are impacted by the stresses of modern life.
I consider a client’s problem or sexual dysfunction in terms of their personal context and meaning and the role it holds for them as an individual.
I work empathetically with people to recognise their personal understanding of their sexuality and sexual health; with the view that issues have roots in psychology, emotion, the physical body, and a person’s history and culture.
Ultimately my aim is to help people get to a place of sexual health, happiness and wellbeing.