How To Help Your Partner Overcome Their Insecurities In Bed, According To Experts
As great as sex can be, it can also have a way of bringing out your insecurities. Everyone has their sexual hang-ups or things that prevent them from being in the moment and enjoying sex with their partner. If your partner's insecurities are getting in the way, there are some things you can do to help your partner overcome their insecurities in bed.
"We often develop sexual hang-ups, insecurities, and shame as a result of internalized myths and expectations about what our bodies should look like, how we should behave, and what we learned as children and young adults," Candice Smith, head sex and intimacy coach at Two to Tango, tells Bustle. "We also can develop sexual hang-ups as a result of rejection or past embarrassments."
According to Smith, some of the most common sexual insecurities people have include talking to their partner about what they like in bed, body image issues, smells, orgasm frequency, fantasies, and mismatched libidos.
"Often these insecurities overlap and affect enjoyment of multiple parts of the sexual experience," Smith says. "Overcoming it requires a combination of self-understanding, self-love, and willingness to communicate with your partner."
If you notice that your partner is struggling with their insecurities, there are some things you can do to help them overcome it.
1. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is all about getting out of your head and being in the moment. When you're insecure about something, it's hard to focus and enjoy what's going on in front of you. So as Christie Federico, M.Ed., relationship and sexual empowerment coach, tells Bustle, you and your partner can try taking a moment to get in the mood by focusing on your breath or one of the five senses. "This is a great mindfulness technique that gets people to stop worrying about their insecurities or to-do list and instead focus on the present moment with their partner(s)," Federico says.
2. Set Different Goals Each Time You Have Sex
"Our society is so obsessed with the orgasm," Federico says. "When we're so goal-oriented, we often forget about the other pleasures that are waiting for us all over the body." The reality is, your end goal doesn't have to be getting an orgasm. When you're so focused on making the orgasm the ultimate end goal, it can put a lot of pressure on your partner to perform a certain way. According to Federico, a new goal should be to go into any sexual experience looking to connect and have fun. "See what pleasure can arise when you don't focus on an end goal of having an orgasm," she says.
3. Respect Your Partner's Limits And Encourage Them To Open Up
It's normal to want to lighten the mood when something is awkward or uncomfortable. That's fine if your partner is laughing too. But if they're struggling with insecurities, that can only make matters worse. You may want to lighten the mood to make things feel OK, but the best thing to do in the moment is create a safe space for them to open up.
"Respect their limits as they are at present," Carol Queen, PhD, staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, tells Bustle. "Pushing them or giving them a hard time about what they will and won't do, or what they feel nervous or uncomfortable about, is not only inappropriate and won't change them, it's almost cruel." Instead, start by encouraging them to tell you when something feels good or doesn't. According to Queen, this way you don't have to read their mind or upset them without meaning to.
4. Create A "Culture Of Learning" In Your Relationship
Sex is a different experience for everyone. But if you're only familiar with what you see on TV or in porn, you're going to have expectations that are not entirely realistic. That can set you up for disappointment or put a lot of pressure on you to be a certain way. So as Elise Schuster, sexuality educator and founder of okayso, tells Bustle, it's important to create a "culture of learning" in your relationship.
"Learn about all of the different ways that people find pleasure by reading different kinds of erotica, for instance," Schuster says. "This can open up people's perceptions of what sex has to be like." You can buy books, watch educational videos, visit sex toy shops, or take classes. "Sex is a journey, not a destination," Schuster says. "If you treat it as such, it will make it easier for your partner to see it that way too."
5. Take Cues From Your Partner
The best way to help your partner overcome their insecurities in bed is to strengthen their trust in you. According to Dr. Fran Walfish, relationship psychotherapist, this will help them feel more secure and confident in bed. One way to develop trust in bed is to pay close attention to what they like and don't like. Take cues from them. For instance, if your partner tells you that they're not too comfortable with their body, ask them if they want to dim the lights or just be in complete darkness. "As you gain their trust, you can gently and incrementally inch toward broadening the scope of your comfort zone together," Walfish says.
6. Get Playful And Creative In Bed
Being creative is a great way to overcome fear in bed. According to Smith, you and your partner can find fun ways to get around their sexual insecurities. For instance, if your partner has body image issues, Smith suggests asking your partner to think about wearing a blindfold during sex. "Not only is this a little kinky, but it encourages them to feel more free and unrestrained during sex, which can lead to breakthroughs in their ability to perceive and feel pleasure," she says.
7. Get Help From A Sex Coach
If their insecurities are really getting in the way of your sex life, turning to a sex coach can be helpful. "Sex coaches are trained in empowerment strategies to help you not only overcome insecurity and sexual hangups, but to help you begin to embrace pleasure and thrive in your intimate relationships," Smith says. Anyone can benefit from seeing a sex therapist or coach. But it's highly recommended if your partner's insecurities are negatively impacting your sex life to the point that it's causing issues in the relationship.
The important thing to remember here is you can't force someone to get over their insecurities. There's only so much you can actually do yourself. As long as you're patient and encouraging, you can help them a lot.