Are you unhappy with your sex life? Whether that’s because you are single, or in a relationship but the sparkle is gone, feeling sad about a lack of fire in the bedroom can be a lonely and hurting experience. Change things during this lovers’ month when Valentines Day is celebrated by confronting your sex demons.
It is normal for everyone to go though phases of life where sex is not always on the cards; for example, if you have recently had a baby, been bereaved, are stressed, recently separated or divorced, or between relationships. But if this phase is prolonged and you are unhappy about the situation, it can start to be an issue that will affect your entire life. Indeed it could bring on depression and other health issues.
If you are in are a relationship, the first you do is talk to your partner about your feelings. Don’t apportion blame, simply say you miss the way sex used to be, and try to open up a discussion. While this may bring back the sparkle, it is worth thinking about your own entrenched attitudes about sex – those demons that always get in your way to sexual fulfillment. If you still love and fancy your partner and you are in a good relationship but you keep making excuses not to have sex, there may be something going on for you at a personal level and you definitely need to confront this and see how you can involve your partner to help you get over it.
So, let us focus on personal attitudes that are likely to ruin your sex life and which we suggest you pay attention to this month, as you declare your love to the one you love.
1. You have a poor body image
When you feel sexy, you convey a message of desirability. But many women, and men too, have body paranoia in the bedroom. If you are concerned about saggy breasts, a wobbly tummy or cellulite, you are unlikely to feel in the mood for love. Many people make love in the darkness because they avoid their partner seeing their body. All they think about when clothes have to come off for sex is their body, their ugly body. They find it easier and more comforting to skip intimacy than chance their partner noticing what they consider an ugly body.
Instead of letting your poor body image interfere with your sex life, take the following actions this month and see where the heights of your shared passion will climb to.
*Ask your partner what he thinks about your body. Start by discussing with your partner your concerns. Ask him how he feels about areas of your body that you don’t think are attractive. You will be surprised that he or she may not be concerned whatsoever with your body issues and loves you just the way you are.
*Let go of unrealistic standards. It is expecting too much to think you can look like the models and actors you see on TV and in glossy fashion magazines. You will be surprised that they don’t look anything like what you see on TV – it’s the wonders of make-up, which you could also try. But appreciate your natural beauty and delight in everything that’s good in you, and never wish to be anybody else other than you.
*Do something positive to improve your appearance. You can lose some weight if you hate to see those bulges when you look in the mirror. Get active. Engage in a sport you like or get onto an exercise regime. You can improve your overall body tone with exercise. You can also dress better to flatter your body type. If you don’t know what clothes would look good in you, ask for advice from friends or relatives you trust and know they will be honest with you. If you can afford it, get an image consultant. Don’t forget to be sexy when getting between the sheets – wear a little something and you will be surprised how this will make you feel sexy and desirable. Every woman should invest in nice lingerie.
*Challenge your negative thinking. Practice creative visualisation to help you challenge your negative thinking. Examine your nude body from all angles regularly in front of a full-length mirror. Spend at least fifteen minutes looking at yourself without being critical. Explore your entire body with your hands and enjoy the feel of your own skin. Notice all your beautiful areas such as legs and eyes and put the focus there and not the stomach where you may feel there is a bit of weight. If you catch yourself having negative thoughts about your body try to get your mind to something more positive. Once you become more aware of your thoughts, you can learn to challenge them. Tell yourself: “I may think I have a flabby stomach but my husband tells me he loves my body and how it feels when he lies on top of me.”
*For men, know the truth about penis size. The vast majority of penises are between three to four inches long when flaccid and five to seven inches long when fully erect. Men tend to think that other men’s penises are larger than theirs. When you look down at your own penis, it appears short than it is – and shorter than another man’s penis glimpsed in full frontal view. Men should also know that women are not necessarily interested in the size of the penis, but how much pleasure it gives them – in other words, your techniques of lovemaking.
You can also help your partner learn to love his or her body by taking certain actions:
*Praise your partner’s lovemaking ability. Let him or her know the ways in which you are pleased. Say it when you feel good when he or she touches you when you are locked together in lovemaking. Let them also know you love how they kiss and the way they pay attention to your needs.
*Focus on his or her best features. Don’t dwell on what is not so good with your partner. If they are a little bit overweight, don’t keep repeating it or bringing it to their attention. Focus on his or her best areas – the eyes, the hair and the legs – and let them always know you love them just the way they are.
*Encourage positive change. If your partner is trying to lose weight, don’t sabotage their diet or exercise regime. Instead encourage them or participate with them to give them moral support. Always compliment progress made, no matter how small. Be your partner’s number one cheerleader.
2. You harbour certain fears
Sometimes fear prevents a couple from experiencing the kind of exciting, satisfying sex life they dream of having. The fears that get in the way of sex are often ones not recognised or articulated. If you are afraid of heights, spiders or snakes, you know you suffer that fear. Fear of passion is not so easily identified. Such fear keeps people from reaching erotic heights as if they were physically constricted from doing so. A person who is held back sexually by fear may blame his or her partner for imagined failures. He or she may look for circumstantial or technical reasons why lovemaking is not good.
Often if one partner is crippled by fear, so is the other, though not necessarily by the same fear. Fear leads to protective behaviour that makes it difficult to be intimate and vulnerable in a relationship. Most fears tempt people to create an avoidance pattern that keeps the beliefs that fed the fear from being challenged and eventually transformed. If you have created a “fear story’ about something and avoid that something all the time, you keep the story intact. But, if you confront the situation, you have opportunity for new experience, especially with the help of your partner.
The fears you need to work on to overcome for greater sex include:
*Fear of intimacy. For some people, intimacy is associated with early memories of an overly involved or protective parent. They may sub-consciously believe they will lose their own identity if they become too close to a partner in adult life. And they may believe the partner’s demands will become overwhelming if they get too close. People who fear intimacy protect themselves emotionally rather than becoming vulnerable. As sex is a physical expression of intimacy, fear of getting too close to someone will affect performance and enjoyment. People who fear intimacy may chose casual sex and avoid relationships that are emotionally involved, or avoid sexual relationships altogether.
*Fear of being rejected. Men particularly fear being laughed at sexually, especially if they experience performance failure. Women on the other hand fear abandonment. Both men and women sometimes fear that a partner would reject them if they got to know them very closely so they censor their words, actions and feelings to protect themselves from rejection.
*Fear of losing control. Some people hold onto control because they fear losing themselves in passion. They may even worry about how they will look and act if they were to let themselves experience intense sexual arousal. Others fear losing power to their partners if they surrender during lovemaking. For whatever underlying motive the controller holds onto personal power in a relationship, he or she is probably also holding back sexually.
*Fear of becoming overly sexual. Some people are afraid they won’t remain faithful to their partners if they allow their sexuality to bloom. They feel the need to keep safe by not becoming too sexually attractive. Sometimes people gain weight as a means of keeping themselves unattractive to co-workers, friends and strangers. Others dress badly or ignore personal grooming. Consequently, they limit their pleasure for fear that too much would lead them to lose control.
*Fear of hidden desires. A man may secretly want his wife to ravage him sexually while a woman may fantasize having sex in the shower, but they never get to disclose their inner desires. They are afraid their desires are wanton or not appropriate for their gender or status so they stifle those feelings. Often by stifling highly charged desires or fantasies, the baby is thrown out with the bathwater and eventually sex interest is depleted.
You can overcome fear by:
*Acknowledging the fear and dealing with it.
*Sharing your fear with your lover and asking for his or her help.
*Facing your fear rather than avoiding it.
*Talking sense to yourself before, during, and after exposure to your fear. Don’t allow the old story that keeps fear entrenched in your life to continue. Develop a new, revised, more reality-based explanation for your fear and seek help when need arises.
3. You harbour negative messages about sex
Of the entire messages we receive from our parents during childhood and puberty, those about sex are often the most powerful. If your parents had negative feelings about themselves, chances are these will have filtered down to you. For example, your parents may have avoided discussing sex and relationships with you during puberty, leaving you with the idea that sex is somehow embarrassing. Growing up in a household with very strict ideas about sex before marriage and who you can date or can’t date can leave you with even more of a bad legacy.
Think about the messages your parents gave you about sex, both direct and otherwise as you grew up. What was the attitude to sex in your family? Just bringing this into your awareness can help you understand your own deep-rooted views, which you need to deal with.
Also try to identify your parents’ voice when you catch yourself thinking: “I am not bothered about sex,” or you have guilt feelings about it. Ask yourself if those thoughts are really yours or from your parents. Discuss your feelings and thoughts with your partner or with a friend and also have a frank chat about the attitudes to sex you learnt growing up. It can be a way to start separating family values from your own. This will help you grow up sexually. You should seek professional help if you feel paralysed by shame about sex.
If you focus on these three areas this month, you will no doubt bring the sparkle back into your sex life.
Published on February 2013