People who grow up without comprehensive sex education can have trouble understanding sex—and this problem manifests in many different ways. Even those who did get a good baseline sex education in all likelihood learned primarily about heterosexual sex and how to avoid STIs. Those who did not receive much sexual education and had to take their cues from pornography or friends probably did not see much diversity of pleasure, bodies, or activities.
If you don’t see a great reflection of yourself in media or pornography, it’s especially important that you feel reflected in your own sex life. But, what that means is that you’ll be in uncharted territory. Pornography is slowly becoming more nuanced, but most of it comes from a male point of view where the woman is perhaps faking an orgasm, and the focus of the climax is penile-vaginal intercourse. This doesn’t include what is, for a lot of people, the bulk of their sexual diet. So, it can be difficult to know what your sexuality can look like without any great examples.
Body Diversity and Picturing Yourself as a Sexual Being
Bodies come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. The majority of women in America are not a size two, many women undergo mastectomies, and others don’t feel that the gender assigned to them at birth is at all reflective of who they are. The same goes for men: many aren’t as muscular as they would like to look, or they wish their penis were a different size or shape, or they’ve had surgeries, medications, or other conditions that prevent them from performing in the stereotypically sexual way. There are so many more differences than similarities, yet pornography gives us an idea that you can be “normal,” when, in fact, “normal sexual behavior” effectively doesn’t exist. The good news is that your sex life can be better than normal: it can be unique, original, and explorative.
Folks with disabilities may also feel that they are left entirely out of our cultural conversation about sex. But, the reality is that nearly all disabilities can be accommodated as long as you have a willing partner and some tools. So, clearly visualizing how you see your sexual self is imperative because it takes your theoretical vision of what’s possible and helps to make it a reality inside your mind. You can make your template for your sexuality so much more inclusive, diverse, and pleasure-focused than the one-size-fits-all prototype that our culture has created.
What You Like Versus What Everyone Else Likes
Recreating your map of sexual pleasure might start with you listing all the sexual activities that you enjoy—purely for your own sexual satisfaction. Cross off anything you do because you imagine other people find it sexy, and eliminate anything you do for the sake of your partner. Once you have this list, if you do something your partner likes, you can easily explain to them how they can reciprocate, instead of acting as if each sexual activity is mutually pleasurable. Creating this list is a great way to reconnect with what you like as an individual, sexual being, and to start to free yourself from the infiltration of our cultural definition of “sexy.”
Whether you’re partnered or not, a therapist that specializes in sexuality can help you create a better road map for your sexual future. Reach out today to one you trust.
Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform. Click here to download the 101 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Hot checklist. Download her new ebook, How to Increase Your Libido – For Women, here.