My girlfriend lacks sexual self-confidence

If you take the time to find out what is behind your girlfriend’s shyness, it could end up being a very positive thing for your relationship.

Q. I’m dating someone whose lack of confidence in bed is a real turn-off. However much I compliment her, and tell her how much she is turning me on, she doesn’t believe me. 

Are there any exercises we could do to build her confidence?

A. Many factors can affect the development of sexual confidence, including parental attitudes, early sexual relationships, or a multitude of socio-cultural influences.

Your girlfriend’s lack of confidence could also relate to anxiety and inexperience, or it could be an innate part of her personality. 

You can’t make her more sexually confident — all you can do is create the right conditions for her to feel more relaxed. 

Either way, doing sex exercises together won’t do any good, unless you can get her to trust you.

Trust is the fundamental building block of all romantic relationships; without it, relationships cannot progress beyond the superficial. 

However, building trust requires commitment and effort, so you need to decide whether you are willing to make that investment. 

If you persevere with the relationship, you must resolve the conflict between what you are saying to your girlfriend and what you are saying to yourself.

It is no good telling her that she turns you on when your internal monologue is busy critiquing her lack of confidence.

It is difficult to hide that kind of psychological discordance, so, frankly, I’m not surprised that she doesn’t believe what you are saying to her.

At present, your sexual relationship seems to be all about what you want — but what about her needs? 

If your relationship is going to thrive, this dynamic needs to change. 

You need to stop thinking in terms of what turns you on and consider asking what turns her on.

Similarly, instead of complimenting her body, why not ask her how she feels? Instead of allowing yourself to feel frustrated by her reticence, explore it. 

Building an authentic connection with another person is a shared endeavour, and if you ask your girlfriend to open up to you, you must do the same for her. 

She will expect you to share your vulnerabilities and your expectations and, if she becomes more confident, she is also likely to challenge your understanding of female sexual confidence.

Young women who lack genuine sexual confidence mask its absence by doing what they believe is expected of them. 

They are so desperate to conform to an ideal of what constitutes “good in bed” that they are willing to sacrifice their satisfaction to maximise their partner’s sexual experience.

Your girlfriend hasn’t done this. She remains tentative, but she is true to herself and who she really is — and that is a much healthier way for her to be. 

Although sexual confidence is related to overall self-confidence, it is primarily rooted in self-awareness.

Women who are sexually confident don’t feel the need to ‘perform’ for a partner. They tend to be less self-critical and more accepting of themselves and their bodies. 

They are much more likely to masturbate and this means that they have a better understanding of how their bodies respond.

In the meantime, the most important thing is to create an honest dialogue.

If you take the time to find out what is behind your girlfriend’s shyness, it could end up being a very positive thing for your relationship. 

As trust grows, confidence builds.

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