Do you feel like sexual self-consciousness has ever negatively affected your relationships? If so, you’re definitely not alone!

Nothing makes you feel more self-conscious than being naked in front of a lover or not “performing” to the best of your ability during sex. There’s literally nowhere to go and nowhere to hide.

You are there – emotionally and physically vulnerable in front of your partner. And, if you are already insecure or embarrassed about your body, sexual abilities, and/or relationship, bedroom activities can quickly become a trigger for anxiety, fear, worry, depression, and even sexual issues.

Causes of Sexual Self-Consciousness

So, what causes someone to be sexually self-conscious? Well, there are many reasons why you may feel unsure or anxious about having sex.

For instance, something as simple as an innocent quip from a partner about your anatomy or sexual performance can lead to a sexless night. The truth is, sexual insecurities can sneak into your bedroom, ruining the mood, and negatively affecting your sex life and relationship.

Maybe you feel less sexually desirable to your partner because you recently gained weight. Or maybe you feel self-conscious because you recently had a baby and your body no longer resembles its former self.

Also, the changes that come with aging could cause you to shy away from sex – even with a long-term partner. Or maybe there is a religious component involved, and you have been taught to shun sex before marriage. Even negative past sexual experiences could make you feel apprehensive in the bedroom.

Sexual issues like premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, sexual pain disorder, orgasmic disorder, low sexual desire, or low arousal disorder can also cause you to be self-conscious in the bedroom. In fact, sexual issues can trigger performance anxiety in some people, causing them to avoid sex altogether.

Still, the cause of your sexual self-consciousness could stem from body image issues.

A recent study found that a poor body image (i.e., weight, sexual performance, and sexual attractiveness concerns, along with a negative perception of one’s body) can negatively affect a woman’s desire, performance, and self-confidence when it comes to sex.

Similarly, another study found that men, who are dissatisfied with their weight, anatomy (penis size), and/or physical appearances, are more likely to be sexually self-conscious, than men, who satisfied with themselves.

Another possible cause of sexual self-consciousness is a fear of “disappointing” your partner.

Some of the most common male sexual issues — erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation – can arise from a fear of being a “bad lover.” This fear can also trigger performance anxiety in some men. More specifically, men who desperately want to sexually “please” their partners can become so fearful of “disappointing” them that they develop anxiety at the mere thought of having sex.

Also, men who suffer from performance anxiety or other sexual issues may be so terrified of sharing their concerns with their partners that the issue goes unaddressed. As a result, both partners remain sexually unsatisfied, and the relationship suffers.Marble body lines of young naked Roman woman of Renaissance Era

It is important to understand that women can also experience sexual issues and performance anxiety. This is especially true if a woman bases her sexual abilities on what she sees in magazines or on the screen, and/or if she has a poor body image or low self-esteem.

Moreover, sexual self-consciousness can arise if one or both partners become obsessed or addicted to porn.  Porn can be very misleading for both men and women, especially when it comes to sexual flexibility, desire, and stamina.

Often, porn can actually make some couples feel like they must have extraordinary sexual abilities, such as being able to have non-stop sex for hours and hours – without tiring.

Porn gives couples a false impression of what sex should feel like, look like, and be like. In reality, however, sex is usually nothing like what you see in porn.

Still, millions of couples try to mimic what they see on the screen – all to the detriment of their sex lives and relationships. Because they are unable to live up to porn expectations, their relationships and self-confidence start to deteriorate.

The truth is these are only some of the causes of sexual self-consciousness. In fact, there are many reasons why someone may be insecure or self-conscious around a partner.

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Combating Self-Consciousness in the Bedroom

The good news is you can boost your confidence and improve your sex life with the easy, actionable tips listed below–before it damages your sex life.

1. Talk About It

If you are self-conscious about having sex with a partner – talk about it with him/her. Keeping it hidden will only trigger confusion, resentment, sadness, anger, and hostility in both partners.

If you are having sexual issues or you feel insecure about your sexual performance or body, share those feelings with your partner. Nothing will get resolved if you ignore or hide what is really going on with you.

Your partner may just surprise you and provide you with the support, unconditional love, and courage you need to make changes or seek help. Your partner may even be able to help you find a solution to the problem, so you both can enjoy the wonderful pleasures of a happy and healthy sex life.

2. Adjust Your Expectations

As mentioned above, unrealistic expectations can lead to a host of sexual issues. Porn and photoshopped images on social media sites, magazines, and in movies and sitcoms can put extreme pressure on couples. The truth is what you see on the screen or in magazines is not real. Most of what you see in porn is choreographed.

Porn stars don’t really have marathon sex sessions, and their bodies aren’t as perfect as you may think. However, watching porn excessively and trying to imitate them will only lead to disappointment, frustration, anger, anxiety, and despair. It could also create a whole new set of problems like performance anxiety and/or sexual disorders.

The result? The end of your sex life and relationship.

So, watch porn and admire the sexy beings in the magazines and on the screen, but keep it real. In other words, understand that your body, sexual abilities, and sexual experiences probably won’t porn star worthy.

Appreciate your body, abilities, and experiences for what they are – ways to connect to someone else on a deeper, more personal level. And, do not allow an illusion to determine the quality of your sex life – and happiness.

3. Work on Your Self-Confidence

It’s normal to wonder what a partner thinks of you – your body, anatomy, appearance, and performance. It’s even normal to be slightly concerned, but if the worry, concern, or fear causes you to forego sex due to self-consciousness, it may be time to work on boosting your self-confidence – in and out of the bedroom.

More specifically, figure out what makes you feel sexy, smart, and attractive. What makes you feel good about yourself?

It doesn’t have to just be sex-related; it could be anything that makes you feel confident. Then, do it – and keep doing it until you’re the best at it. Why? Well, self-confidence is transferable. In other words, if you feel confident in one area, you’ll most likely feel confident in other areas, as well. And, that includes in the bedroom.

So, invest time in a hobby you’ve been dabbling with and practice it until you’re the best at it. Or, research various sexual positions and practice them, until your sex life sizzles. Do what you love and your self-confidence will soar. Once, you have mastered a skill or two and your confidence improves, you’ll no longer be self-conscious in the bedroom.

In Summary…

It’s normal to want to “please” your partner. We want to be the best we can for the people we love. But, if worry and anxiety prevent you from partaking or enjoying sex, it time to talk to someone – your partner and/or a professional.

Don’t wait until the last minute to address concerns, because it could lead to serious problems – in and out of the bedroom.

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Dr. R.Y. Langham holds a Master of Science in marriage and family therapy and a Ph.D in family psychology. She serves as a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, which provides sex-therapy online programs for men and couples experiencing premature ejaculation.