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Sex is Not a Performance: Getting Out of Your Head and Into Your Pleasure


Our social and cultural narratives about sex often refer to it in terms of performance. Who hasn’t, at some point, worried about whether they’re “good in bed” or trawled the internet for tips on how to wow their partner(s) in the bedroom? 

This pressure can inhibit arousal, orgasm, connection between partners, and overall enjoyment of sex. And for people with penises, so-called performance anxiety can be a major contributing factor towards erectile dysfunction (ED.)

Today we wanted to talk about separating sex from performance and letting those worries go so that you can fully enjoy the pleasures available to you. Here’s how to do it. 

Talk to Your Partner(s)

Communication is the biggest and most critical ingredient for good sex. This means that you need to get comfortable with talking candidly to your partner or partners about the sex you’re having, the sex you’d like to be having, and the ways you’re feeling about sex. 

It also means expressing any worries or insecurities to them. So if you’re anxious about whether you are pleasing them or about how you are “performing,” talk about it! This gives your partner the chance to reassure you and gives you both the opportunity to talk about any improvements you’d like to make to your sex life together. 

Embrace a More Expansive Definition of Sex

Sex isn’t just about penetration! In fact, for many people, penetration isn’t the most pleasurable part of sex (or even a part of their sex life at all.) If you centre penis-in-vagina (or penis-in-anus) penetrative sex as the most “real” or important form of sex, then it’s easy to feel stressed or disappointed when that activity doesn’t work out for whatever reason. 

Instead, try to embrace and practice a much broader definition of sex. Hand sex, oral sex, playing with toys, BDSM play, mutual masturbation, cyber sex, sexting, exchanging pictures, dirty talk, and other kinds of erotic touch not involving the genitals can all be forms of sex. Once you realise how many different ways sex can look, you’ll start seeing that the only goal should be for everyone to have a good time. 

Make Use of the Tools That Can Help 

There are countless tools out there designed to help you live your sexiest life and have the most fulfilling sex you can. So embrace them! 

Unfortunately, many people still view sex toys as competition. They feel as though giving their partner an orgasm with a toy somehow counts less than doing so with their body alone. They may even worry that, if their partner enjoys using toys too much, they will be replaced. None of this is true. Sex toys are tools and a toy can never replace a person. 

Lubricant is another fantastic tool for your sex life. Some people worry that using lube means that they cannot arouse their partner properly or that if they were “better in bed”, it wouldn’t be needed. Again, this is simply untrue. Vaginas may not lubricate as much as you’d like for all kinds of reasons that may have nothing to do with desire or arousal (and butts aren’t self-lubricating at all.) 

So instead of feeling like you have to go it alone, take the opportunity to use the things that can help you. Your sex life will thank you. 

Be Picky About Your Porn

Pornography can be a wonderful thing, and we’re definitely not against it in principle. At its core, porn is just a form of entertainment that’s designed to turn you on and get you off. 

However, if performance concerns are plaguing your sex life, it’s a good idea to be choosy about the types of porn you consume. A lot of mainstream pornography features near-impossible standards: dicks that are always hard, pussies that are always wet, butts that can take enormous insertables without much warm-up. Enormous penises and breasts, perfectly chiselled gym bodies, and so on. 

Though it’s not healthy, it’s also a normal and common human impulse to compare yourself to the images you see in the media you consume. This includes porn. But mainstream porn is highly staged and the performers are professionals. Why not branch out? Amateur porn, independently produced porn, feminist porn, and body-positive and body-diverse content can all give you a broader perspective on what sexy can look like. 

(Hint: “sexy” absolutely includes you!) 

Give Yourself a Break 

Finally, try to take the pressure off yourself. You wouldn’t judge your partner(s) if they had an “off” day or something didn’t go to plan, right? So don’t be harsh on yourself, either. 

Remember that sex is supposed to be fun, joyful, playful, erotic, connective… but it is not supposed to be performative. Be authentically yourself and you can’t go far wrong. 

Posted In: Better Sex

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