While most of us like to think of ourselves as sexual goddesses, it’s normal to experience a dip in confidence sometimes. Trauma, depression, weight gain, certain body parts no longer sitting like they used to (talking about you, breasts and butt), a not-so-nice comment from an ex, or things getting stale in a long-term relationship. All could drop-kick your sexual esteem.
Or maybe you never had much from the start.
Whatever the case, it’s time for a boost.
Being sexually confident — meaning feeling comfortable with your body, embracing your wants, needs and desires, and knowing you deserve pleasure — will improve your sex life, says Luree Benjamin, a licensed marriage and family therapist associate who specializes in sex therapy and owns Connecting the Dots Therapy in North Carolina.
Here’s how to increase your sexual self-esteem.
Get naked. Part of sexual confidence is being confident about your body, regardless of your age, size or any so-called flaws, Benjamin says. She recommends checking yourself out in the mirror while you’re naked to find things you like about your body. Is it your gorgeous shoulders? The curve in your collarbone? Your banging thighs? Don’t forget your vulva. Look at it. Get familiar with it. Love it.
Relearn your turn-ons. As we age, our sexual desires may change. “What you liked at 20, you may not like at 40. What you like at 40, you may not like at 50,” Benjamin says. She suggests tuning in to your five senses to learn your current likes and dislikes. For example, when you apply lotion, what areas feel especially good? Touch and explore yourself. What visuals and sounds give you a little tingle? When you’re eating, what flavors pop? Also, pay attention to what turns you off — say, a certain scent or texture. “The more you know about your body and your areas of arousal, the more you’re able to inform your partner and show up for yourself in an intimate setting,” Benjamin says.
Do what makes you feel sexy. Read erotica. Wear lingerie. Rock red lipstick. Dance sensually. Fantasize. Engage in self-pleasure.
Forget what whoever said. Don’t let a negative remark from an ex (or an episode of bad sex) taint your current love life. Focus on the positives instead. What’s the best compliment you’ve received about your sex game? Do you have a go-to move that drives ’em wild?
Talk that talk. Before sexual encounters, hype yourself up with sexually confident messages: “Girl, you’ve got this!” “I’m about to show out!”
Think outside of sex. Working toward sexual confidence doesn’t necessarily mean trying all kinds of new sexual acts and tricks, Benjamin says. Intimacy isn’t just about intercourse. Date nights, cuddling, kissing and massages can help deepen your intimate connection with your partner.
Talk to your lover about your likes and desires. If you aren’t feeling your sexual best, have an honest, non-accusatory conversation. Benjamin recommends saying, “Hey, I don’t feel as sexy as I once was, so I want to bring the spark back to our sex life and overall life. Are you on board?” Chances are your partner will jump at the opportunity to get things popping.
Immerse yourself in the experience. When doing the do, limit distractions (TV, phones and kids). Try not to worry about what your body looks like or your performance. Be present in the moment. Focus on your breathing. Enjoy the pleasure you’re giving and receiving.
Ask a health care professional. If low libido, vaginal dryness or pain during sex have tanked your sexual esteem, your gyno can help find out what’s going on and offer possible solutions. And a therapist or sex therapist may be able to help with any mental roadblocks or relationship problems getting in the way of your sexual satisfaction.