Hello, loves. Today we’re going to be talking about something that might be kinda hard to face down: overcoming sexual shame.
Listen, it isn’t just you: just about every woman I speak to has some form of sexual shame or sexual shutdown. Me included! I’ve had to unpack that through a fuckton of work. And it was work, okay? It wasn’t something I wanted to do at all. I didn’t want to take responsibility for my pleasure; if I did that, it would mean facing down the actual reasons why I struggled with my sexuality.
I don’t know what sexual shame looks like for you, but I can tell you what it looked like for me, and how I overcame all that shit and started owning my own pleasure. Let’s tackle overcoming sexual shame.
Overcoming sexual shame is seriously so fucking important for so many reasons, ladies. It’s not just about orgasms; it’s about intimacy. It’s about comfort. It’s about self-confidence. It’s about feeling safe. For instance, sexual shame manifested for me as:
Disgust when I was touching myself or being
Every time I had sex, I was having to fantasize
Putting my partner’s pleasure over my own. Every.
Single. Time. It didn’t matter if I hadn’t orgasmed; I knew sex was over when
Not being able to express my desires or my
Having a “freeze” response during sex; sometimes
I would hear myself say “No,” but I would freeze up and wouldn’t be able to
And when I was going through all this, I actually thought I was sexually liberated! Overcoming sexual shame? I didn’t have to do any of that shit. I was totally confident, totally comfortable, and totally in tune with myself, right? Wrong. Try again, Michelle!
That’s right: just because you’re totally comfortable in your body, perfectly fine with having sex, and actively looking for it? That doesn’t mean you’re comfortable owning your sexuality. It means you’re cool with sex. There is a difference!
There are so many other ways that sexual shame can show up, but that’s how it showed up for me. And I only realized how much shame I’d been carrying around with me when I started working with my somatic practitioner recently. I’m not ashamed of having sex; that’s never been the problem. But because of my experience having my boundaries crossed during my time in the sex industry, I found myself rushing through sex in order to avoid feeling the disgust that would sometimes rear its head when I was being touched by someone. And because I was rushing, I could never really tell if I was all right with what was happening or not. I didn’t even give myself the chance to say “yes” or “no.” Not overcoming sexual shame was trapping me in a cycle of painful, rushed, unpleasant sex.
When you rush through sex, you’re not enjoying yourself, right? But if you feel shame surrounding sex, you’re probably scared to slow down and feel it, too. Because the faster it’s over, the faster the shame goes away, and you can get back to being comfortable. But that’s not how your sex life should be, babe. You deserve all the pleasure in the world. This leads me back to one of the reasons I had to work on overcoming sexual shame…
Another way sexual shame showed up for me? I faked my orgasms until I was twenty-eight. That’s right: almost thirty, and I still hadn’t orgasmed thanks to sex with a partner. If nothing else, overcoming sexual shame was necessary for that reason. I could orgasm with a vibrator; that wasn’t an issue. But for the longest time, I was faking my orgasms rather than admitting that I hadn’t finished, because I wanted to preserve my partner’s ego. How messed up is that? Before overcoming sexual shame, I really, genuinely felt that my partner’s pleasure mattered more than mine. I was too ashamed to speak up. One of the big steps in overcoming sexual shame for me was when I finally got up my courage and admitted to an ex-partner (who actually was super cool about the whole thing) that I’d faked every orgasm I’d ever had; not just with him, but with every partner. I thought he’d be angry. I thought he’d break up with me.
He just laughed. “Here I was feeling like the man for making you cum every time,” he said. No anger, nothing. And after that, I never faked another orgasm again.
Something so important for overcoming sexual shame: looking at how you’ve been conditioned to think about sex. The way you’re taught about sex matters SO MUCH to how you end up feeling about sexuality and figuring it out matters so much to the process of overcoming sexual shame. For me, my parents weren’t negative about having sex, but they weren’t positive, either; they just didn’t talk about it. So in my head, sex was something you didn’t—or couldn’t—talk about. And that was only reinforced during my teenage years, right? Let me tell you a story.
When one of my friends told me she’d had sex for the first time, I asked, “Did you have an orgy?” Now, let’s pause: I had no fucking idea what an orgy was. I thought it was short for orgasm. Cringe, right? She was like, “What do you mean?” Immediately, I was so. Fucking. Embarrassed. I was like, “Oh my god, I got something wrong. I don’t know something.” And because of how embarrassed I was, that feeling stuck with me and reinforced the idea that sex wasn’t something I could talk about. I couldn’t ask questions about it. I couldn’t voice how I felt about it. So when I started having sex, that translated into not saying no. Not asking questions. Not speaking up if I wasn’t enjoying something. I’d been conditioned to think that sex was a thing of silence…in some ways, at least.
So whether your parents were totally anti-sex, totally silent on sex, or pretty open about it, all of that factors into the way your sexual shame might manifest. The way your friends felt about sex might factor into it. Your sexual history DEFINITELY plays a role in it. These are all things you have to be willing to sit down and unpack if you plan on overcoming your sexual shame anytime soon.
Well, first of all, the journey to overcoming sexual shame is going to look different for anyone. I don’t know your trauma. I don’t know your conditioning. I can only tell you what overcoming sexual shame looked like for me, and for me, it took stepping up, doing the work to unpack the conditioning I’d been fed my whole life, and pushing through the shame to actually be honest with my partners and myself. I had to remember that I deserved to own my pleasure, even if it was more work to stop and take responsibility for it myself rather than quietly resenting my partners for my lack of bliss.
So that’s all I’ve got for you today, loves! I hope this helps you feel less alone in this, and I hope it helps you start confronting all the shame that’s bottled up inside you. Start taking responsibility for your own pleasure. You’ll be shocked by just how good things can get after that.
Be sure to connect with me over on Instagram. I’d love to hear what you thought of this post and what your major takeaways were. Or head over to my website to learn more about how we can work through your relationship journey together.
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Or maybe you want some one-on-one action? Try out The Intimate Woman for some private coaching realness: https://michellepanning.com/the-intimate-woman if you’re ready to go deep. Go hard. And dive into creating the life you’ve always wanted, with me by your side with calls, motivations, and most importantly, calls on your bullshit. Stop getting in your own way, and let’s do this.
See you back here in the next one!
I get it, girl. I’ve been there too. For years, I was going through the same experiences with men over and over again that left me feeling confused, anxious and pissed off.
I silenced myself in dating and relationships because I was terrified of being judged, rejected and abandoned. It all changed when I went through a break-up and thought “enough is enough. I cannot continue to repeat the same relationships with different men! Something HAS to change!”