Should you be able to just “let go” in the bedroom? Here’s my controversial opinion…

July 28,2020

Welcome to Week 3 of the Slay Your Shoulds challenge! 

Last week, we talked about feeling like you “should” always be able to clear your mind and be fully present during sex. (Missed that post? Click here to read it!)

This week’s “should” is similar, but warrants its own category because so many people struggle with it. 

So let’s learn what the 2nd most common “should” is…

Sexual Should #2: “I Should Be Able To ‘Let Go’ During Sex”

Whereas last week we were focusing on distracting thoughts in your head, this week’s “should” is more about distracting emotions.

So many people have this idea in their heads that sex should be all about losing yourself in the moment. Sex should be so intense that you should let go of control and experience this sense of wild abandonment. 

And not living up to this fantasy can make many people feel like their sex lives aren’t good enough. Most of us will beat ourselves up for not being perfectly present, confident, and excited every single second that we’re being intimate.

This “should” is especially strong with women who struggle to orgasm with a partner. (I devote a whole section to it in Finishing School, my online orgasm course for women.) You’ve been taught to believe that orgasm is all about letting go of control, and that women who have a hard time getting there with a partner must just be afraid of losing control.

UNPOPULAR OPINION: I think the idea of needing to “just let go” in order to have amazing sex is BS.

Sure, there are certain things that we could all stand to let go of, like self-consciousness or shame.

But I actually think that focusing so much on “letting go” in the bedroom often leads to shutting down instead.

I mean, think about it… if you’re feeling distracted or self-conscious during sex, has telling yourself, “UGH, just LET GO” ever actually worked?!


It probably just made you feel even more distracted or self-conscious!

Trying to force yourself to “let go” only ever backfires. 

(And that’s not even to mention the kinda hilarious logistics. “Letting go” makes it sound like sex is something that happens to you, instead of something you create. If both partners are just “letting go”, how does sex even happen?! Who takes off the clothes? Who grabs the condom? Who does the thrusting??)

Slay This Should

If trying to just “let go” doesn’t work, what should we do instead?

The reality is that “letting go” is just one of the many experiences you can have during sex. It’s definitely not the only way you can or should have a great time in the bedroom!

You can have incredible sex while you’re in control. While you’re sad. While you’re angry. While you’re goofy. While you’re tired. While you’re annoyed. 

So I say, don’t “let go” in the bedroom. 

Instead, let it in!

Are you feeling shy in the moment? Let yourself be shy.

Are you feeling awkward in the moment? Let yourself be awkward. 

Are you feeling curious about trying something? Let yourself try it. 

Let your full self into the bedroom! 

I know this might sound a little abstract, so let me give you an example of what I mean. A few weeks ago, Xander was really struggling with everything going on with COVID-19. He was sick of being quarantined, missing social interaction with our loved ones, and scared about the future. We still had sex during that period of time. He was sad, distracted, and a little all over the place. But he didn’t force himself to just “let go” of all of his perfectly understandable feelings, and I didn’t need him to do that either. I wanted him to be able to be honest and real about what he was going through, and I wanted to connect with him in an authentic way. 

To me, real intimacy is about truly seeing your partner, and truly being seen by them. 

Even the parts of ourselves we don’t love, and the feelings we wish we weren’t having.

Doesn’t that sound so much more real and intimate than just “letting go”?

Now, this is going to feel challenging at first, because it’s been ingrained in you that you’re supposed to let go. 

So it may help to spend some time thinking about this on your own, first. 

Try to identify some of the unwanted feelings that typically come up for you during sex. 

Then take a moment to acknowledge that feeling, and visualize what it could be like to “let it in” during sex. 

For example, you might think something like, “I usually feel so awkward during sex, like I just don’t know what I’m doing.” 

OK, what would that look like for you to let your awkwardness in instead of trying to let it go? 

Maybe you could just laugh to yourself about how silly sex is sometimes. Maybe you could give yourself permission to try something even though you’re not sure you or your partner will like it. Maybe you could just take a few deep breaths.

I know this can be tough stuff, so I want to continue supporting you! What’s the most challenging feeling that typically comes up for you during sex?

P.S. To the fellas out there – check out our brand new video on performance anxiety: “6 Things That Make Men MOST Anxious About Sex.” Xander joined me for this video to give the male’s perspective! It’s a good one. You can find it on our YouTube channel, right here. 
To the ladies – if you’re struggling with the idea of “letting go” around orgasm, check out Finishing School, my online orgasm course for women!


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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!