Our culture is saturated in sexual shame. Some of it is overt and obvious (religion, slut shaming) but much of it is implied and subtle. Sexual shame occurs any time we feel uncomfortable, unworthy, or immoral about our sexual thoughts, feelings or actions.
So if telling your date that you think she looks sexy in such a short dress feels inappropriate; if a woman wanting to have sex on the first date feels forward or “slutty;” if trying to kiss a woman you just met even though you don’t really know her feels wrong or undeserved; then chances are you are suffering from some level of sexual shame.
Sexual shame inhibits us. It slows us down in our romantic interactions. It causes us to hesitate when we want to kiss or touch her. It makes us feel like we need to earn sex or deserve it. It makes us feel guilty about expressing our sexual desires. It causes us to repress our sexual urges and to experience them vicariously through pornography or strippers. It keeps us in our room, on the internet, in front of video games, instead of out sharing a warm and beautiful moment with a woman.
If you’re a man who has struggled in the past with the “friend zone,” who has had women lose interest in him after one or two dates, or who can’t ever seem to “take things anywhere,” it’s because you’re not making the interaction sexual enough and are therefore not expressing your sexuality freely or clearly. Chances are you are suffering from some degree of sexual shame and may not even realize it.
Where Sexual Shame Comes From
Like most of our sexual and emotional hang ups in dating, sexual shame is instilled in us throughout our lives, particularly our early lives. Sexual shame can be pushed upon us by our family, our community and by society at large. Negative experiences in adolescence with members of the opposite sex can also trigger a lot of sexual shame and self image issues as we enter adulthood.
Some examples of sources of sexual shame:
- As a child, Mom or dad punishing you for touching or acknowledging your genitals, telling you not to experience or explore your body.
- Religious upbringing where sex is demonized and taught as immoral or wrong.
- Boys who are raised with a radical feminist influence who are taught that expressing their sexual desires openly are offensive and disrespectful to women and that women should always be respected, no matter what.
- An emotionally absent or smothering mother reinforces into the boy’s subconscious that he’s done nothing to deserve love and affection from women, that he’s unworthy. This often transfers into a shame about expressing the desire for sex and affection.
- Television shows or cartoons where men are shamed for hitting on women or expressing their sexuality openly. This could be anything from Roger Rabbit drooling around Jessica Rabbit or Vince Vaughn being laughed at and shamed for pursuing a girl in a movie. These are small but can add up quite a bit over time.
- Consistent or brutal rejection from girls growing up, particularly in adolescence. Teasing and bullying. Can cause self-image issues which lead to sexual shame, or a feeling the one doesn’t deserve or needs to earn a woman’s affection.
The list goes on and on.
It should also be noted that women suffer from sexual shame just as much, if not more, than men do. If you’ve ever been with a woman who won’t have sex with the lights on, won’t kiss in public, won’t hold hands or be affectionate in front of her friends, who won’t do more than one sexual position, who feels guilty/angry/nervous directly before or after sex, who seems to repress her sexuality or behave asexually, or who is uncomfortable with the reality that she wants and enjoys sex, chances are she’s carrying around a lot of sexual shame.
Like most shame, sexual shame is usually not experienced consciously or at least it’s not recognized. Instead, it’s experienced through anxiety, avoidance, anger and guilt. When you’re on a date and are terrified to kiss your date even though she’s been giving you the big doe eyes for hours now, you’re not consciously thinking “Oh, I’m so ashamed of what I want to do, kissing her is bad and I don’t deserve it.” No, instead, it feels like there’s a brick in your stomach. You start rationalizing excuses about the “right moment” or whatever, and believe that you haven’t “earned” enough of a connection or enough affection from her to warrant kissing her yet.
These bizarre feelings seem logical to those who have them. I can’t tell you how many men I’ve talked to who were adamant that they didn’t know how to kiss a woman because they couldn’t spot the “right moment.” I always suggest to them that perhaps the “right moment” is not a moment, but actually something that’s always happening, you just have to take advantage of it. It’s not something you passively wait for, but something you actively create. Or that the belief that they need to have a “right moment” or that they need to know “how to kiss” a woman implies that they believe their sexual desire is not sufficient in and of itself — that despite having strong feelings for a woman, they still must find a way to “earn” getting physical with her.
This is sexual shame. A feeling of unworthiness. A belief that affection is something you pay for through effort and struggle. An assumption that mere mutual sexual desire in and of itself is not enough.
How to Get Rid of Sexual Shame
The way to rid yourself of shame is to expose it. You expose shame by expressing it and experiencing it. So if you’re ashamed of your body, the way you overcome that shame is by exposing your body — hence those fat people at the beach in thongs.
The way you overcome your sexual shame is by getting in touch with your sexuality and then expressing that sexuality to women. Simple, right? As with many of these things, it’s a matter of doing, not rationalizing or learning.
The best way to do this is through a process of progressive desensitization. You can start by expressing your sexuality in the confidence of close friends. If you’re always the quiet one when your buddies are talking about which women they want to sleep with, maybe it’s time to speak up. Tell your next date she’s beautiful and go to hold her hand. Start simple and slowly work your way up.
As time goes on, you will become more and more comfortable sharing your sexuality and expressing it openly. The anxiety will dissipate. The desire for “right moments” or “green lights” or “signals” or the feeling that you must “earn” sex or affection will disappear and you’ll feel foolish for spending so much time and effort looking for them.
Overcoming sexual shame is a cornerstone of my Sexual Confidence Program. I’ve created 18 interactive lessons to help you get in touch with your sexuality and begin expressing it. Learn more here.
Overcome hesitation and avoid the friend zone by taking action and expressing your sexuality smoothly and shamelessly.
The Sexual Confidence Program can help any man become more confident getting intimate with women.