What Are Signs You're You’re Not Being Yourself During Sex? 7 Things That May Be Holding You Back

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

We’re always told to look for partners we can be ourselves with. But it’s not always clear what it means to be yourself in the bedroom. After all, due to our culture’s silence and shame around sex, many of us don’t even get to figure out who our true sexual selves are. It's worthwhile, though. Once you figure out who you really are sexually, you also have the opportunity to share that with your partner, which can make your relationship all the more intimate, not to mention hot.

"Don’t worry if your bedroom personality differs from your day-to-day personality," Astroglide's Resident Sexologist Dr. Jess O'Reilly tells Bustle. "Sex can be a form of escape from reality, so you may find that you like to play a different role in the bedroom than you do in the boardroom. If, however, you or your partner are concerned that you’re not being yourself in bed, you may want to ask yourself what is holding you back. Sex is one of the most vulnerable ways in which we interact with our partners, so it’s not uncommon to approach sex with increased self-consciousness."

Here are some signs you may not be acting like your true self in the bedroom.

1You're Having Sex When You're Not Turned On

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If you have sex simply because your partner wants to and you're not opposed, you miss out on getting in touch with your desire. "And you get burned out," clinical sexologist and relationship coach Claudia Six, PhD, author of Erotic Integrity: How To Be True To Yourself Sexually, tells Bustle. "Folks who are putting out more sex than they truly desire don’t get as much out of it and eventually their ardor wanes." Plus, sex is much hotter when you want it — badly.

2You're Faking Orgasms

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There are plenty of understandable reasons to fake orgasms, but it doesn't tend to foster closeness between people. That can only come from being totally honest with each other. "Ask yourself: Are you faking because you want it to be over?" says Six. "And if so, why are you there in the first place? Because you feel inadequate? Because you don’t want your lover to feel inadequate? If you’re not into it, don’t do it!"

3Sex Is Painful

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You don't owe anyone sex, so if sex is hurting you, you have the right not to do it. "No guy in his right mind wants to f*ck you if it hurts you," says Six. "So go and see your gynecologist, your sex therapist, and have things checked out. Sex is for pleasure."

4You're Engaging In Sexual Acts You're Not Into

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We seem to have this idea that certain sexual acts (like oral) are mandatory while others (like anal) are optional. But in reality, they're all optional. To avoid engaging in activities just because they're considered "normal" or you assume your partner wants to, Six recommends making a "yes/no/maybe" list with your partner to figure out what you both are truly into.

5You're Itching To Explore A New Kink

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On the flip side, some people abstain from certain sexual acts because they're not considered normal. "You don’t need to share every single detail, but you can certainly benefit from asking for more of what you want," says Dr. Jess. "Even if you’re into something edgier or kinkier, it’s worth discussing the associated themes and feelings with your partner." If you're afraid to talk to your partner about a kink, a yes/no/maybe list could also help open up this conversation, says Six.

6You're More Worried About Your Performance Than Your Pleasure

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It's normal to think about your partner's pleasure, but enjoying sex requires being present in your body, not being on the outside looking in. "If you’re more concerned about how you look, the perfection of your technique, or your partner’s pleasure, you might be holding yourself back from your own," says Dr. Jess.

7Your Discomfort Is Affecting Your Partner

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You shouldn't feel bad about being uncomfortable — we're set up to feel that way during sex. But it is worth working on if it's making your partner uncomfortable, too. "While it’s not our job to put them at ease, you also don’t want them to focus all of their energy on your comfort," says Dr. Jess.

Showing the parts of yourself you normally hide in the bedroom may be scary, but it's those scary conversations that'll bring you and your partner closer.