Ask Emily: How Can I Be More Confident in the Bedroom?

Two women standing in underwear holding their arms
Dear Emily,

My partner and I used to have amazing, fantastic sex…but, my body has changed. I gained a bit of weight recently, and I’m worried my partner isn’t attracted to me anymore. It’s either that, or they’re bored because the sex has felt super lackluster lately. What can I do to fix this?

–Not Feeling Sexually Confident

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Dear NFSC (Not Feeling Sexually Confident),

I was reflecting on your question and thought of my interview with Serena Kerrigan, the “Queen of Confidence,” who – surprise! – also has moments of insecurity. We all do! So first, I want to normalize the feelings you’re having, because we have all been there…truly.  

It’s a self-esteem landmine out there, and sadly, we can’t get rid of the landmines – but here’s the good news. We CAN get so deep in our self-love and security, that those landmines don’t hurt us anymore. In fact, they don’t even register as reasons to feel bad about ourselves, because we’ve changed. We know our worth, we know we’re irresistible, and we know that shifts here and there aren’t enough to diminish our magnetism. Here are 4 ways to remember yours. 

Be Your Best Friend

How do you talk to yourself? I ask because so many of us have an unconscious habit of berating ourselves, saying things like “ew” or “ugh – gross” when we look in the mirror. We might even say things like, “how could I be so stupid?” when we make an honest mistake, or chew ourselves out for not being perfect. 

That’s why the first thing I’m going to recommend is that you start a positive self-talk practice. When you look in the mirror, I want you to literally say the words “damn – I’m hot” even if you don’t 100% believe it…yet. Because you mentioned being worried that your partner isn’t attracted to you anymore, I want you to focus on this step right away, because it sounds like you’re looking to them for validation. And that’s common – but we need to work with your self-perception. It’s the only one you can control.

Even if you ultimately decide to make some changes to your appearance, change of any sort is more sustainable when it comes from a place of self-love, rather than self-hate. Something I learned from the Mind Pump guys!

Redefine “Sexy”

Along those lines, let’s take a look at your visual inputs. Because “sexy” is so culturally conscripted, it’s easy to think that a certain appearance is a key to desirability…when in reality, hot sex is based on so much more than appearance alone. 

So I want you to actively seek out a range of bodies, and witness them in a sexual context. Erika Lust is one of my favorite ethical pornographers out there and has made porn films with pregnant couples, couples in their 70s – all kinds of people. So check her stuff out, and any other ethical porn that celebrates variety.

Next step: prune your social media. Unfollow any accounts that make you feel bad about yourself, and replace them with sex-positive accounts from creators who display and embrace a variety of visual sexiness. I think you’re going to find that being an alluring person comes in all kinds of packaging. 

Talk to Your Partner

Now then – let’s have a chat with your partner.

Judging by the way you’ve framed this question, I’m getting the sense that you think this change in your sex life is all your fault. Let me reassure you: it’s not! 

All sex is a dynamic, created by two or more people. So let’s clear the air with your partner, by finding out if there’s something on their mind. Who knows? Maybe they’re feeling a little insecure too, and that’s the reason your sex has been more inhibited than usual. 

I was recently asked about sexual dry spells, and have some communication advice for them, but if the idea of a sex talk makes you nervous, I’ve got another resource for you. My Three T’s for Communication Guide helps set you up for conversational success, so you can both get clear on what you need to make your sex life hot again. 

Move From Sexual Chemistry to Sexual Alchemy

You don’t mention how long you’ve been dating, but another issue in every couple’s sex life is the drop-off of NRE: new relationship energy.

When you’re first sleeping with someone, your sexual connection is powered by a chemical cocktail of novelty and adventure. Everything about them (and you) is new and deliciously exciting, so we don’t even have to think about “creating” a hot sexual dynamic. The honeymoon phase takes care of that for us!

But to move from sexual chemistry to sexual alchemy, you do have to get a little more intentional. Your sexual play starts deriving more of its power from trust, depth, and imagination, and less on sheer newness. For lots of couples, this means switching things up a bit, with sexual behaviors you haven’t tried before. The Sex With Emily Yes / No / Maybe Guide is a great place to start for that, with tons of ideas to add to your sexual menu. And, wouldn’t you know? We’re doing a two-part podcast series right now on taking your sex life from stale to sexy, where you can hear expert advice on precisely this topic. Here’s part one, hot off the presses and ready for your eardrums.

I hope this helps, NFSC! Remember: you’re just in a season – these feelings won’t last forever. Confidence is an inside job, but you’ve already taken the first step, by getting answers on how to cultivate yours. Well done!