We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist based in San Francisco, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto this week’s topic: How to be honest during sex.
Q: I have a hard time just being myself during sex. I feel like so many guys these days are looking for porn star-esque partners who writhe around and moan and are basically down for anything. I feel like I have to play a role and make a bunch of noises in order to keep guys interested. Sometimes sex can feel so impersonal and disconnected, but I don’t feel comfortable trying to be more genuine. I feel stuck!
A: Thanks for your question. We all have ideas about what we’re “supposed” to be like during sex, and it can feel really tricky to break out of those molds. Plus, being genuine with people is always a vulnerable experience, but trying to do it during sex can feel particularly challenging.
All that being said, being more authentic during sex is a great goal to work towards. Being able to truly express yourself sexually can feel incredibly liberating, sexy, and fun. Fortunately, I’ve got a few tools you can use to help get there.
1. Give yourself permission to be yourself.
Right off the bat, I think it’s important to note that you may be struggling with even allowing yourself to want to be more authentic during sex. Take the time to acknowledge and validate your desire to be yourself during sex.
Say this out loud: “It’s OK for me to want to be more genuine during sex. I can give myself permission to want to grow in this area. I will make an effort to do this for myself.” It’s OK if it feels cheesy — just go with it!
2. Think about it on your own first.
It can be hard to figure out what you want in the moment, so it’s worth spending some time thinking about your sex life when you’re not having sex. Here are some powerful questions that you could ask yourself:
“What am I not allowing myself to express during sex?” This question will help you get a sense of just how disconnected you feel when you’re being intimate. How much of an act are you putting on? Are you feeling like a completely different person?
“What aspects of myself do I want to feel comfortable with during sex?” It’s important to get a sense of what you do want to bring into the bedroom. Would you like to be more honest? Playful? Vulnerable? “Authentic” can mean a lot of different things, and there are probably some aspects of your personality that feel more relevant to your sex life than others.
“When are the times that I feel most disconnected from myself?” We’ll get to this topic a little later, but for now, this question could give you clues about the times that you struggle with being inauthentic.
“What are the parts of sex that I most enjoy?” In a similar vein, this question will help you hone in on the times where it feels easiest and most natural for you to be authentic.
3. Practice being more authentic outside of the bedroom.
Being authentic is not a skill that needs to be reserved for the bedroom. In fact, it’s much easier to practice outside of it. If there are certain characteristics that you want to feel more comfortable expressing, try to make space for them in your everyday life.
Want to feel more empowered asking for what you want? Practice asking coworkers, good friends, and family members. Want to learn how to identify what you want? Spend Sundays not making any plans and following what you want for the entire day.
4. Only do the things you want to do...
So many women don’t recognize that they have agency in making their own sexual decisions. Once you’ve identified the situations that tend to make you feel the most fake and uncomfortable, avoid them! Maybe one night stands or casual sex feels too impersonal to you. Maybe having sex in doggystyle brings out that pretend-porn-star feeling. You don’t ever have to do those things again if you don’t want to!
5. … With the people you want to do them with.
Let your level of comfort with a person be your guide in whether or not you should sleep with them. If you don’t feel like you can be yourself with that person, it’s probably a sign that you shouldn’t get naked with them.
Keep in mind that your ability to be authentic with someone doesn’t necessarily translate to how serious your relationship is with that person. You could meet someone off Tinder and hit it off immediately. Or you could be in a year-long relationship with someone, but still not feel comfortable fully being yourself. Trust your gut on this one.
6. Maintain your relationship with yourself during sex.
Now let’s get into some tricks you can use in the moment if you feel like you’re starting to disconnect.
One super easy one is to simply look down at your own body. Looking at yourself is a great way to remind yourself that you’re still you. You can also try coming up with a phrase that you can say inside your head as a reminder that it’s OK to be yourself.
Another option is to take quick breaks. If you feel yourself starting to drift, ask your partner to spend a minute just kissing you or caressing your body, until you feel yourself start to come back. Communication in general is another way to feel more in touch with yourself. Try asking your partner to switch positions or giving feedback about how your body feels.
7. Appreciate all of the many flavors of sex.
So many people feel like sex has to always be passionate, intense, and porn-like. Sex can be those things, but it can also be so much more. It can be silly, moody, lazy, funny, carefree, mournful, or playful. I just want to encourage you to see all the possibilities that sex can present — and go for what you want in the moment. Have fun!
Images: Flickr; Giphy