Confidence is a tricky thing.
Sometimes it seems like we’re inherently either confident or unconfident. But in reality, self-confidence is a skill that we can cultivate!
When it comes to sexual self-confidence, that’s especially true. Being sexually self-confident doesn’t require you to have tons of partnered sexual experiences. Instead, it’s a combination of accurate information and a clear understanding of our own values, needs, and desires — all of which can be explored on your own!
Receiving positive feedback after a partnered sexual experience can give you a confidence boost, but long-lasting sexual self-confidence comes from within.
So, here are six strategies that you can use on your own or with a partner to strengthen your sexual self-confidence — because your pleasure is worth spending a little time on.
1. Get to Know Your Body
When was the last time you really looked at your body? I don’t mean a passing glance in the mirror to make sure you got all of the toothpaste off your face – I mean really checked yourself out.
Between feeling like our bodies aren’t “good enough” to simply feeling too busy to notice our bodies, many of us are left feeling like blobs. And feeling like a blob is, notably, not great for your sexual self-confidence.
Taking a good, long look at yourself might feel challenging, especially if you struggle with body image issues. Notice the critical thoughts as they come up, thank them for sharing, and then say to yourself “I’m focusing on appreciating myself right now, thanks.” Try to name what you like on your body — no matter how small it is!
As you do this exercise, you might be inclined to overlook one key area of your body: your genitals.
Looking directly at your genitals might feel emotionally and physically challenging, but it’s worth taking a look! Both penises and vulvas come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s no one way for them to look. So, normalize your genitals!
Feeling comfortable with your genitals (including how they look, smell, and taste) is correlated with higher levels of sexual self-confidence. So, grab a mirror, spread your legs, and start exploring!
2. Adjust Your Social Feeds
Your body image, self-compassion, and self-confidence all affect your sexual confidence – and social media happens to affect all three.
You might spend a lot of time on your smartphone scrolling through social media and comparing yourself to the people you see there. Even if that comparison isn’t an active thought, your brain may be making connections between “likes” and appearance.
If you find yourself feeling inadequate or low when you’re using social media, it’s time to adjust your feed. Follow creators who post body-positive content — not fitspiration, but content about appreciating and valuing your body as it is now. Mute or unfollow the people who make you feel bad about yourself.
Finding sexuality-related content on social media can be tough, but following reliable sex educators and people who are non-judgmental about sex can be eye-opening and pressure-relieving. After all, you probably didn’t get the sex ed you needed from school — so update the info with some factual, inclusive, and pleasure-focused sex education.
There are a lot of reasons why someone might have a lower level of sexual self-confidence. They might feel negative about their body, feel shame about their desires and fantasies, or simply not know what they like in bed.
There’s no shame in not knowing what you like. In fact, every single one of us has not known what we liked sexually at some point.
Exploring your sexual fantasies is worthwhile on its own (and we’ll get to that), but masturbating and learning what types of physical sensations you like is also key to your sexual self-confidence and pleasure. (And no, it won’t “ruin you” for future partnered sexual experiences.)
Masturbation is your time to practice and explore without worrying about what a partner wants to do or what they’re thinking. Instead, it’s just you, your body, and whatever accessories you decide to bring to the table.
The point of masturbation is to give your own sexual pleasure some intentional attention. You might pursue an orgasm, or you might not. You might use toys and tools, or you might not. It’s all about you and what you want to do!
Knowing what types of touch, toys, and parts of your body you enjoy can help you better advocate for your pleasure in partnered sexual experiences. So, set aside some sexy time with yourself. Get to know what parts of your body you enjoy (you might be surprised!) and build up your sexual relationship with yourself.
4. Explore Sexy Content
Masturbation teaches you about your anatomy, but sexual media can teach you about your desires, fantasies, and the things that turn you on. (They also make a smoking hot power couple).
Sexual media takes many different forms — video porn, photo porn, written erotica, audio erotica, and fan fiction, just to name a few. So, test the waters!
If you feel uncertain about explicit sexual content, try erotica first. It’s typically narrative in nature and has more of a “slow burn” feel to it. If you can’t find any that speaks to you, you can even try writing your own!
The point of this exercise is to explore your sexual creativity and learn a little bit more about your erotic landscape (and for you to have fun, honestly). It isn’t for you to compare yourself to something that you see on your screen. So, if you find that you’re comparing your body or sexual prowess to the performers on your screen, I recommend taking a break or finding a different website to source your content from (Pink & White Productions is my favorite).
5. Nurture Your Senses
Your sexual confidence is about so much more than just your genitals and what you do with them. Sexual confidence is about your relationship with pleasure, how connected you feel with your body, and your ability to notice and respect your needs.
Your senses — sight, smell, taste, sound, and touch — can help you get in touch with your sexuality. For example: Have you ever sat outside on a warm day and felt the sun gently warm up your skin?
Your ability to notice the things that bring you pleasure in your non-sexual life can help you be more aware of what sexual pleasure feels like in your body.
If you feel disconnected from your body and out of touch with the things that help you feel good, you don’t have to jump straight to masturbation. Instead, give some love to the small, non-sexual moments of pleasure. They can help you build the foundation to explore your sexual pleasure (and you may even find some overlapping areas to play with)!
6. Keep Learning
Your relationship with sexuality is going to evolve throughout your life — and that’s totally normal! But, it can also make you feel out of your comfort zone when you realize that your old information isn’t suiting your current needs.
So, keep learning. Read books and articles (go ahead and check that one off your list for today), get to know your body as it changes, go to a sexual skills class, or watch a bunch of YouTube videos on topics that spark your curiosity.
Information is power and pleasure. You’re worth getting to know — so spend some time getting to know yourself, even as your needs and desires shift!