Reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Google “sexual confidence tips” and you’ll get a whole litany of self-starter, “rise and grind”-type information, often written and promoted by people who, frankly, don’t seem as if they know that much about it.
You probably know the type of content we’re talking about. Set your alarm to 5AM, drink strong black coffee made from beans cultivated in an Alaskan cave, shower in ice-cold water and give yourself frequent reminders that you can do anything you set your mind to.
This kind of advice may have its heart in the right place, but confidence -- and especially sexual confidence -- usually isn’t something you can believe into existence, especially if you don’t fully understand why it wasn’t there in the first place.
Nowhere is this more clear than in the bedroom. While the whole “fake it ‘til you make it” bit can work elsewhere, it rarely works well between the sheets.
The good news is that if you’re feeling less confident than you’d prefer in the bedroom, there are simple steps that you can take to shed feelings of insecurity and feel better about yourself when you’re meeting new people or having a sexual experience.
What’s even better is that many of these steps, from changing the way you think about yourself to prioritizing self-care, work for men and women.
Below, we’ve discussed what sexual confidence is (as well as what it isn’t), and shared a range of practical tips that you can use to feel more confident about yourself sexually.
Sexual confidence is simply the confidence you carry into sexual situations. Sexual self-esteem is the value you give yourself as a sexual being.
These are important traits to possess for a healthy, functional sexual life, because any negative attitudes toward your sexuality and your confidence in sexual situations can have a real impact on your mental health and wellbeing.
Fundamentally, sexual confidence is about feeling comfortable with yourself, your body and the type of sexual encounter or intimate experience that you enjoy.
A variety of factors can have a positive or negative impact on your sexual confidence. If you’re male, you may have low sexual confidence due to body issues that make you self conscious of your appearance, or sexual dysfunctions like premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction.
Other factors that may play a role in male sexual confidence issues include height, weight, and even penis size.
Many of the factors that affect sexual confidence in men also have a negative impact on sexual confidence in women. These include not feeling attractive enough for your partner, feeling as if you have different sexual needs, or feeling anxious or guilty about sex.
So, what does sexual confidence look like in real life? A sexually confident person doesn’t just feel good about their appearance -- they also possess other important traits for sexual function and wellbeing.
Understanding your sexual desires. A huge part of developing sexual confidence is understanding what you enjoy sexually, from your sexual orientation to the type of sex that you find most pleasurable.
Being able to communicate your desires to your partner. Sexual confidence also includes being able to communicate your sexual desires and needs to your partner, as well as listening to their needs and preferences.
Not feeling guilty or anxious about sex. Another aspect of sexual self-confidence is understanding that enjoying sex is normal, and that there’s no reason to feel anxious or guilty about having a sexual relationship.
Being able to set and enforce sexual boundaries. Finally, sexual confidence involves understanding your limits when it comes to sex, as well as respecting the boundaries of your sexual partner.
Research shows that there are several ways in which a lack of sexual confidence can manifest in your life. Most of the causes of a lack of self confidence come from worries related to sexual interactions and/or rejection by a partner.
For instance, sexual fear, depression and anxiety are all common variables or dimensions of “sexual self-concept,” a term that simply means how we view our sexual selves.
Whether these things are related to existing sexual dysfunctions or perceived shortcomings is, to a degree, moot — if you think you’re not going to make your partner happy, you’re in the wrong headspace for a satisfying and enjoyable sexual encounter.
Contrary to what self-help books and YouTube videos might tell you, there’s no sure-fire way to become more sexually self-confident overnight.
Instead, becoming more sexually confident is a gradual process that often involves many small, meaningful steps. These may include improving your body image, learning how to communicate better with your partner, or learning to accept your sexual desires and preferences.
The good news is that by taking small steps, you can improve your sexual confidence over time and grow into the person you’d like to become.
Your body image can have a huge impact on both your sexual self-confidence and your general confidence as a person.
A healthy body image means feeling comfortable and satisfied with the way your body looks. It doesn’t mean being obsessed with perfection -- instead, it’s mostly about accepting who you are physically and feeling comfortable within your own skin.
A variety of factors can have a negative impact on your body image, including being overweight, obese or underweight, being bullied or criticized by others, or being exposed to images that give you unrealistic expectations about your appearance.
When you have a negative body image, it may affect your self-confidence and prevent you from feeling confident with your sexual partners.
Whether you have a lingering concern related to body dysmorphia, concerns about penis size or just some unaddressed sexual performance issues and performance-related anxieties, it always helps to get your body image concerns under control.
One way to deal with body image issues is by maintaining a healthy weight. Research suggests that overweight or obese people show improvements in their body image by shedding weight -- a change that could produce improvements in sexual confidence as well.
For men, losing weight can also produce improvements in sexual function. For example, there’s a well-known link between weight and erectile dysfunction, meaning that slimming down may be beneficial if you often find it difficult to get or maintain an erection.
Sexual performance issues are remarkably common. When they affect your ability to engage in satisfying sex with your partner, these issues can have a major negative impact on your sexual confidence and self-esteem.
According to the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, 30 percent of adult men in the United States are affected by erectile dysfunction.
Premature ejaculation is also very common, with an estimated 30 to 75 percent of men affected to some degree.
If you’re affected by a form of sexual dysfunction, treating it can improve your sexual confidence and make you feel more comfortable with your partner.
We offer several erectile dysfunction treatments online, including medications such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra®), tadalafil (Cialis®) and avanafil (Stendra®), which increase the amount of blood that can flow to your penis when you’re sexually aroused.
Combined with a healthy lifestyle, these products can make getting an erection and controlling your orgasm and ejaculation process far easier, letting you feel greater confidence in bed with your partner.
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Your mental health can have a big impact on your sexual confidence. In fact, many conditions that can make you feel less confident in bed -- including erectile dysfunction -- can occur as a result of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and chronic stress.
One way to improve your mental health and potentially improve your level of confidence in bed is to talk to a therapist about how you’re feeling.
Talk therapy, or psychotherapy, offers numerous benefits. As part of therapy, you can learn how to identify thoughts and behaviors that affect your mental wellbeing, then make changes to stop these harmful thought patterns and improve your quality of life.
We offer counseling online, allowing you to easily find and connect with a therapy provider from the comfort and privacy of your home.
Another way to improve your mental health is to use positive affirmations and practice self-care as part of your daily routine. Our guide to self-care for mental health shares actionable tips that you can use to improve your mental wellbeing and avoid sex-related mental health issues.
When it comes to sex, no two people are exactly the same. Your needs are likely different from those of other people, and there’s no shame in knowing yourself better by working out what you prefer in terms of sexual contact and partners.
This could mean experimenting with different methods of masturbation or types of sex. If you’re not yet in an exclusive relationship, it can also mean connecting with different sexual partners to work out how you respond and what you enjoy the most.
Above all, it means being non-judgmental and accepting that you are, well, you, and that what you enjoy is what you enjoy.
Satisfying sex -- and, by extension, sexual self-confidence -- is all about self-discovery. As you learn more about what you enjoy and who you connect with, you’ll likely begin to feel a greater sense of confidence in yourself and comfort in your body.
As much as we railed on the idea of faking anything earlier, there are behaviors and habits that are related to sexual health and confidence that you might be able to improve by “faking it” until they become natural to you.
Practicing these may eventually lead you to feel more comfortable in bed, and they may make it easier to enjoy fulfilling sex with your partner.
One way to do this is to act as if you feel sexually confident, even if you don’t feel that way quite yet. Put yourself in the shoes of someone you view as being comfortable in their own skin, then ask yourself how they’d feel in a situation that makes you feel nervous or worried.
You may also consider being more direct with your partner about things you want to try together, and about asking them about things that they enjoy, from exploring fetishes and kinks, to simple technique requests.
Sometimes, the simple act of thinking of yourself as a self-confident person can help you to take action and become one, especially when it comes to sex life.
This can make it easier to explore your interests with your partner and develop a stronger, more intimate sexual relationship.
Developing greater sexual confidence can make it easier to connect with your partner and have fulfilling, satisfying sex together. It may also reduce your risk of dealing with common issues like sexual performance anxiety, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation or a weak sex drive.
To increase your sexual confidence, try using the techniques above to feel more comfortable in your own skin during sexual activity.
Confidence isn’t something that develops overnight, meaning it’s normal and natural to deal with the occasional “off” days sexually. Take it slow and focus on gradual improvements and, as time passes, you’ll likely notice that sex feels less difficult and more of a natural thing for you.
Need help overcoming a sexual performance issue? We offer a range of treatments for men’s sexual health and performance issues, including medications for erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE).
You can also learn more about overcoming common mental health issues that can affect your sexual performance in our guide to the psychological causes of ED.