Being comfortable in bed isn't automatic for all people. When I first started having sex, I struggled to find a way to be comfortable in bed, all while hiding my body under blankets, sheets, pillows, a pair of pants — whatever I could get my hands on and drape across myself. For me, it wasn't necessarily that I was uncomfortable with my body, per se, but uncomfortable with the vulnerability. And, yes, there are levels of vulnerability during sex; a fact that I wouldn't really understand until later.
Although there are those who can strip down, get into a 100 different positions without a care in the world, and orgasm like there's no tomorrow, for others, it's far more difficult. While the reasons for such awkwardness can vary, for some, it's just a matter of not being comfortable in bed.
"Sex is one of the most vulnerable acts we can engage in," Sarah Watson, sex therapist and counselor, tells Bustle. "Insecurities can come from everywhere: previous relationships, media, music, our own expectations, and lack of experience. Own it and learn from it if you want to work on it."
You may not be able to find the necessary confidence to become immediately comfortable overnight — that's going to take some time and work on your part — but you can at least recognize the signs that point to the confirmation that what you're feeling is discomfort. I spoke to Dr. Dawn Michael, certified clinical sexologist, sexuality counselor, and author of My Husband Wont Have Sex With Me, about what some of those signs might be. Here's what she had to say.
1You Keep Yourself Covered
A big sign that you're uncomfortable with yourself in bed is the fact that you stay covered up, no matter what the situation or position. "You don't want to be naked or show your body," Dr. Michael tells Bustle. "[You] prefer to cover yourself up or hide under the covers."
2You're Focused On What The Other Person Might Be Thinking
If you're truly uncomfortable with yourself, then you're not going to be present during sex. In fact, you'll be far more focused on what the other person might be thinking, according to Dr. Michael. You'll be wondering what might be going through their head, if they're judging you, how they feel about you, how they feel about your body, and a whole other boatload of concerns that, honestly, should be far from your mind during sex. Being present is everything in the bedroom.
3You're Too Distracted To Have An Orgasm
Because your brain is elsewhere, you can't really expect to orgasm. If you're too uncomfortable with yourself, the likelihood of being able to climax may be zero to none. You might even find that self-stimulation of your clitoris, either via your hands or with a vibrator, might not even help either.
4You're Unable To Have A Mutual Experience
While everyone is allowed to let their brain wander, sometimes all that misplaced focus doesn't just mess things up for you, but for both you and your partner. "You are hyperfocused on pleasing your partner, rather than relaxing and letting the experience happen where it becomes a mutual exchange of pleasure," says Dr. Michael.
In other words, if you're so concerned with your partner, so much so that you're obsessive about their thoughts and are too into pleasing them as a means to quell those obsessive thoughts, your experience won't be mutual; it can't be mutual if it's so one-sided.
5You Make Your Partner Uncomfortable
If you've ever been with someone — a friend, colleague, neighbor, etc — who's uncomfortable in their skin, you've probably felt it. The same can be said for in the bedroom, too. If you're so uncomfortable, so unable to be at ease that it's affecting your ability to relax, orgasm, or even breathe without anxiety in your chest, that discomfort is contagious. So, yes, your partner can feel it, making it tense for both of you.
6There's No Enjoyment For Either Of You
"Where you are so uncomfortable you create a situation where it makes the other person uncomfortable and the enjoyment is taken out of the equation for the two of you [it's a sign]," explains Dr. Michael.
At that point, why even bother? Why put yourself through something that, inevitably, is likely to make you feel bad instead of good?
7Relaxing Simply Isn't An Option For You
One of the big things that can affect your sex life is stress. When we're stressed out because of our discomfort in a situation — sexual or otherwise — the ability to relax just ceases to exist. If you find yourself completely unable to relax in bed, no matter what your partner does or say, or how many times you tell yourself to relax, you need to face the fact that you're uncomfortable with yourself. You also need to face the fact that you deserve to be comfortable with yourself in bed.
To be uncomfortable, at any time, is human. As it's very human to be uncomfortable with yourself in bed — but you don't have to be. You can make changes to boost your confidence and if making changes on your own doesn't help, you can always seek therapy. As someone who's been in therapy for years, I can attest to the fact that once you find the right therapist for you (it can take some trial and error), therapy can do great things. No one should have to feel uncomfortable in bed, especially if there are ways to get around it.