Calling all perfectionists! How to overcome sexual perfectionism

March 23,2021

Are you a sexual perfectionist? 

Do you put pressure on yourself (and on your partner too) to have sex that looks as perfect as it does in the movies? 

Do you get frustrated, ashamed, or embarrassed if sex ever feels clunky or awkward? 

I ask you these questions as a former perfectionist myself! I spent much of my life pressuring myself to be perfect at everything, sex included. 

I had a lot of sex that felt like me just playing a role. Trying to make my partner think that things were “clicking” between the two of us. Fixating more on their pleasure than my own. Faking moans, faking orgasms, faking everything

It’s understandable to wish sex was perfect and easy. That’s the only way we ever see it on TV, and in the movies and porn. If all you ever see is sex that looks totally perfect, of course you’re going to internalize that as an expectation. 

But when you get so fixated on having perfect sex, it sucks all of the fun and enjoyment out of it. It makes sex feel like a joyless experience. 

Sex becomes just one more thing on your never-ending list of things you have to be amazing at, and you judge yourself for not being “good enough” at it.

If you pressure yourself to have perfect sex, that can interfere with your level of desire for sex, too. 

It’s hard to feel interested in or excited about something when the bar is set so high. 

A lot of couples get stuck in this vicious cycle where there’s so much performance pressure on sex that they just don’t have it very much. But then when they do have sex, that pressure rears its ugly head and makes the experience feel crappy for both of them. That makes them want sex even less than before!

One of the best things you can do for your sex life is stop expecting it to be perfect. 

We got a DM a few weeks ago from a woman who said:

“When my partner touches me, it doesn’t feel orgasmically good the entire time. It feels good most of the time, but there are moments when the pleasure feels lower. I know you guys talk about sexual communication a lot, but I don’t want to have to tell him every single moment that things don’t feel quite as good. How do I train him to do a better job without having to guide him every step of the way?”

This is such a good example of the sneaky ways that perfectionism infiltrates our sex lives. This woman had the expectation that every. single. moment. that her partner was touching her should feel orgasmic! 

But that’s just not realistic! 

Don’t expect to be at a perfect 10 every single moment during sex. 

Expect that there will be ebbs and flows in your level of pleasure, connection, presence, and enjoyment. 

So how do we overcome sexual perfectionism?

By talking about and normalizing all of the imperfect moments! 

Let me walk you through the last time Xander and I had sex. Here are some of the things that didn’t go perfectly:

See?? Soooo NOT perfect! 

But I thoroughly enjoyed the experience anyways, because I’ve reset my expectations about sex.

I no longer expect unwavering perfection in each and every moment.

If I’m having a negative experience, I definitely take action, and either change things up myself or make a request of Xander. 

But if I’m just experiencing a little ebb and flow, I let it be! Just giving myself that permission typically brings me back to enjoying myself.

So let’s normalize sexual imperfection! 

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HI THERE!

I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!

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