Sex in real life isn't perfect. There's a lot of trial and error involved in making sex "good" for both you and your partner. But out of all the things that can go horribly wrong, experts say there is one mistake people commonly make in bed that can be a total mood killer. "Sadly things are often said that can have a negative effect on your partner’s sexual confidence without you realizing," Sunny Rodgers, a clinical sexologist and certified sex coach tells Bustle.
No one in a healthy sexual relationship ever intentionally sets out to bring their partner down in any way. But sometimes, it happens. "When it comes to intimacy in the bedroom, you may find that your partner is much more sensitive, especially if the two of you have opened up and become comfortable," Jeannie Assimos, eharmony's Chief of Advice tells Bustle. "This is a sensitive area. Be super thoughtful about how you might bring up any sort of criticism, and always remember, this is your partner at their most vulnerable."
It's true. Everyone comes into new sexual experiences with their own set of insecurities. According to a recent Zava survey of 1,000 men and women, 67 percent of men say their biggest insecurity in the bedroom was their sexual performance. Nearly 80 percent of women say their body image makes them feel insecure.
When you unintentionally bring your partner's confidence down in bed, it can affect your sex life for the worse. Sex should be a fun bonding experience. But how can you have fun when one partner feels like they can't let go and enjoy it? The good news is, you don't have to worry. According to experts, here are some ways to help boost your partner's confidence after you unintentionally bring it down.
Encourage Your Partner To Explore Their Own Body
Confidence in itself is sexy, Rodgers says. Knowing your body and what gives it pleasure can make a person confident, which in turn is very sexy. "I suggest encouraging your partner to explore their own bodies and what feels good to them," she says. "Taking time to enjoy self-love is a great way to learn about your own body so it can naturally lead to better sex and more confidence." Besides, mutual masturbation can be fun.
Spend Time Just Touching Each Other And Learning About What Feels Good
When you make an orgasm the end goal, there's a lot of room for disappointment. Sometimes, redefining what sex or intimacy is for you can help make you and your partner feel more confident in yourselves and your performance. If feeling good and bonding with your partner is what you actually want from sex, then Rodgers suggests utilizing the power of touch. "A little Sex Ed never hurts when boosting confidence," she says. "The more you know about your partner’s body (i.e. Where’s the clitoris located? What’s a frenulum?), the better!" Once your partner discovers which spots to hit on your body, their confidence will skyrocket.
Reassure Them And Focus On The Positives
"To get your partner's confidence back up, be vocal and positive about the things you like," Assimos says. If their confidence is already shot, you may want to avoid the constructive criticism for a little bit. So don't immediately say that you wish they would go a little slower next time. Stay focused on the positives. "The more you can impress upon them that it’s not a big deal the better," she says. "Even if inside you might be a bit concerned about a performance issue, please be sure to let them know how hot you think they are, and tell them the things your love about them inside the bedroom and out."
Talk To Your Partner About Bringing Sex Toys Into The Bedroom First, Don't Assume Anything
If you have trouble orgasming during partner sex, you may think bringing in a sex toy to help can be the solution. "Unfortunately, bringing sex toys into the bedroom can sometimes end up hurting someone's feelings," Polly Rodriguez, CEO and co-founder of Unbound, tells Bustle. But the reality is, it doesn't have to be. "When people ask us how to introduce toys to their partners, we always suggest to frame it as an experience you want to share with them," Rodriguez says. "When you approach toys as a fun adventure together, your partner will be less likely to think that they're being replaced, or that they're inadequate. "
Give Good Feedback Both In The Moment And After
Be sure to let your partner know what they're doing right. "Mention specific things and be clear how much you like it," Raffi Bilek, LCSW-C, Director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, tells Bustle. "Do this during the act, and do it afterwards as well." Reminiscing about how good it was when your partner did that "one crazy move" and getting excited about it is a great way to make them feel like they really can please you, he says.
Have An Honest Conversation About It Outside Of The Bedroom
Sex should be fun and you should be able to laugh when things go wrong. But according to Rodriguez, laughing is another one of those things that can unintentionally go awry. "Sometimes laughing during sex can be misinterpreted as laughing at your partner rather than with them," she says. Because of that, sometimes talking to your partner about why they shut down during sex is better left for another time and place. "It may be easier for your partner to open up if you're not at the scene of the crime, so to speak," Rodriguez says. Giving them time to cool off and be in a better head space can make having that conversation much easier.
For the most part, everyone wants to feel like they're good in bed for their partner. People want to feel sexy and desired, especially by the one person that they want. But people do make mistakes from time to time. Sometimes things that are said can be taken the wrong way. If that happens, laughing off their concerns or downplaying it is not the way to go. If you want to help boost your partner's confidence again, make a point to communicate how much you genuinely want them. And of course, be mindful to stay away from those things in the future.