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How to feel confident in the bedroom when acting sexy makes you cringe

WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT

“It’s about being curious with yourself, noticing when you’re feeling sexually confident and tapping into it.”

I’ve never been one of those people others would describe as ‘oozing sex appeal’. Not in a fishing-for-compliments, quirky self-deprecation way – I’ve just always felt my sexuality to be a little more fumbling than foxy. In high school, when some of my friends took to sex with an air of carefree confidence, I felt viscerally uncomfortable with my body (let alone with somebody else’s). 

I know I’m not alone. For some of us, ‘sexiness’ feels harder to achieve than some red lipstick, lingerie and a heavy dose of oud-based perfume. Recently, a friend of mine was telling me about a dirty-talk heavy sexting experience. “It all felt a little too… deliberate,” they explained. “I kept just thinking about what to say next.”


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While those ‘deliberately’ sex-centric acts feel like they should turn us on (according to mainstream media and porn), everyone’s needs are different. And in a less literal sense, it’s our inner sensuality that helps connect us to our sexuality in an intrinsic way. When you feel good, confidence will come – no matter how you get there. 

And because sex is about the journey, not the destination (I’m sure someone prolific has said that), it’s helpful to have an arsenal of practical techniques to help get you in the mood. To ‘soft launch’ your sex drive, if you will. As I’m clearly no expert, Melbourne sexologist Lauren French is here to walk us through her tips for sensuality and sexual confidence.

Communication, always 

Cliches are cliches for a reason. If your partner (or acquaintance, sex friend, no-label enigma, whoever) is asking or expecting something you’re not comfortable with, just let them know. “My go-to advice is to always communicate and just say ‘Hey, this isn’t something I’m super into’,” Lauren explains. “If we try to do things subtly or dance around subjects, people get confused… you’re not getting to the crux of what’s going on, which is maybe that you have different sexual expectations.”

Lauren explains how conversation can spark new ideas. “I think we should be aiming to have really pleasurable, enjoyable sexual experiences. For example, if your partner is really into lingerie and you don’t feel confident wearing it, I think saying something is necessary. A good way to approach this (if you’re open to other ideas) is by offering a compromise or alternative suggestion.

“If you don’t feel comfortable wearing lingerie, this exchange could inspire some new tips for you,” Lauren says. “Instead, maybe you want to try going commando under a sundress or wearing your partner’s shirt with nothing underneath. You might discover something new about your sexuality.” 

The discovery process 

From personal experience, I can say it’s relatively common to struggle to define exactly what you’re ‘into’. While you might have a rough idea, finding the words can be difficult. I understand communication is important, but what exactly do I want to communicate? 

“It’s good to be curious,” Lauren says in response. “As you said, a lot of people don’t fully understand their own sensuality and they don’t feel super connected to their own body. Realistically, that discovery can be a bit jarring… but once you’ve made that realisation, you can commit time and effort into discovering a new part of yourself.”

An easy place to begin is by asking yourself some questions. Lauren suggests starting out by asking when and why you feel the sexiest. “Is there an outfit you feel your sexiest in? What about the outfit is making you feel good? Some people tell me they feel best with washed, clean hair and a freshly-moisturised body. It’s about being curious with yourself, noticing when you’re feeling sexually confident and tapping into it.”

Sensuality vs sexuality 

“I think there’s a big difference between feeling sexy and feeling sensual,” Lauren explains. Put simply, “sexy is often an external feeling, an aesthetic. It’s about the way someone else is viewing you… sensual, that’s about how you feel inside yourself. It doesn’t matter how you look or sound or what you’re wearing, it’s about finding that feeling.”

So how do we tap into our most sensual selves? “I think the easiest place to start is by picking something you do often and actively being mindful of it,” Lauren tells me. “Try to connect with your body… I often recommend trying this when washing your hair, doing your self-care routine, while stretching, doing yoga or dancing… anything you do that’s a bit physical, try and find the playful, sensual side of that.” 

Once you’ve mastered a little daily sensuality, you can move it to the next level. “So often when we think about exploring sex, we’re only thinking with a partner,” Lauren says. “It’s about exploring your body by yourself, too! Try different masturbatory techniques or new erotic media. Read a steamy book or listen to audio porn… there are some amazing audio tools out there. Hit play on one of those when you’re in the shower and see how you feel.” 

For the best in audio erotica, head here

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