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Sex Advice, Self-Confidence, and Being “Normal”: Is It All In Your Head?

As I recently wrote, most sex advice doesn’t work because it only focuses on one part of our sexuality: the body.

According to sex therapist Marty Klein, The secret to a fulfilling sex life is mental, not physical.

Why is it that the typical self-help approaches don’t work when it come to sex? Why isn’t it as simply as the ten hot new moves you need to try tonight?

Let’s compare it to something else — say you want to take care of your health. What we know is that articles like “five ways to burn fat better” just don’t work. There’s a step before that and that’s creating the emotional environment in which people can take advantage of that information.

For most people, the emotional environment for taking advantage of those “hot new moves” just isn’t there.

People aren’t up to what moves they should do, they’re stuck thinking, “I’m afraid that if we have sex with the lights on he’s gonna think that my butt is too big.” If someone is stuck on “My penis is the most important thing that I bring to sex,” then talking to them about what to do with this finger or that hand or this foot is just pointless. But that’s what self-help books focus on constantly when it comes to sex: what to do with your body.

Obviously, there is so much bodily insecurity going around — how do you even start toward that point of feeling sexy in your own skin?

Part of it is getting the idea that it is possible to detach how you look from how you feel and that sexiness is not a product of what your body looks like from the outside, that sexiness is a product of how you feel on the inside. Part of it is acknowledging that somebody somewhere has the ability to feel sexy independent of how they look on the outside. We have to get the concept that it’s possible for some people to feel sexy based on what’s on the inside rather than what’s on the outside. From there it’s a question of a person tuning into what do I have to offer somebody else sexually, and what do I have to offer myself sexually? If a person enjoys kissing a lot, regardless of what they look like they could say to themselves, well, that’s part of what makes me sexy.

You write so much in the book about how people worry about being sexual normal. What is sexually normal?

Most people who want to know what’s sexually normal, they’re not going to use that information in a wholesome way. Most people want to know what’s sexually normal so that they can compare themselves or their mate to that standard. If I say 80 percent of 30-year-olds have oral sex at least once a month, somebody’s gonna compare themselves to that and say, “What’s wrong with me that I don’t do that?” Or they’re going to look at their mate and say, “What’s wrong with you?”

Now if you want to know what’s statistically common when it come to sex, as I say in the book, it’s that people have sex when they’re tired and when they feel self-conscious about their bodies.

Edited: February 19th, 2012

Kelsey’s Sex Tips: Believe You’re Sexy

Sex tips: Sexy starts in the mind.

It feels great to be desired. But no matter how much other people want you, it won’t make much difference if you don’t want yourself.

Try this: Stand naked in front of the mirror. Look at yourself. Would you have sex with you?

If the answer is no (or maybe HELL NO!), and you’re not having the sex you’d like – that’s why. You cannot let go, be in the moment, and feel all the pleasure your body can bring if you’re preoccupied with how fat your belly looks or how small your boobs are.

Take a cue from Kai, via sexloveliberation, who tells herself every day, “I look best naked”:

I tell myself out loud every day – I love my body. I love my pussy. Sometimes it feels ridiculous. Often my mind is screaming self-hatred. All the more reason to keep doing it. Confidence starts from within, and its THAT VOICE that stops you from all the pleasure you deserve.

Edited: January 15th, 2012

Self-Censorship: “the worst repression”

In Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving, Betty Dodson writes:


As a creative person, I’d consistently struggled against social restrictions and censorship. However, the worst repression was the kind of censorship I’d been taught to apply to myself: “What will people think?”


We’re so concerned about what others (might) think that we stop ourselves from being real.  That fear is so pronounced in relation to sexuality, we even stop ourselves when we’re alone and nobody’s there to judge.  We judge ourselves.  Sociologists would say we create a “generalized other” in our minds.  That is, we act based on what we think others would think, even by ourselves.


That’s why masturbation is so important. Dodson’s first book was called Liberating Masturbation. When we’re truly loving and connecting with ourselves, despite social norms that tell us not to, masturbation is liberation.

Not that its a piece of cake to overcome self-repression.  But freedom is in the mind, whether its political freedom or sexual freedom — when we can simply be, that’s when we’re free.

Edited: October 26th, 2011