This material is adapted from Amy Jo’s free telecall, “The 5 Biggest Mistakes Couples Make When It Comes to Sex… and What to Do About It.”
The third common mistake couples makes is that they don’t deal with shame. Shame is keeping one or both partners from connecting or being closer and neither of them knows how to deal with that shame. It just festers and eats away inside, and gets in the way of sex in a big way.
Shame kills sex. It just kills it. I’ve seen people trapped, buried under so much shame, they couldn’t see a way out. Some of the shame issues that might be coming up in your relationship are: shame about how your body looks or performs. Men often have shame about lack of erections, the quality of their erections or the size of their penis. Women often have shame about being too “big” or round or not having the perfect body or the right breasts. Women can have shame about not being able to orgasm. Anyone can have shame about not thinking they are good at sex or not knowing how to please their partner. Many people have shame about aging—not accepting the changes in their body, desire, orgasms or pleasure. I’ve spoken to so many people who just think they are broken, unfixable.
Sometimes there is shame about sexual identity, where a part of one’s sexual identity hasn’t been acknowledged and there is a lot of fear about losing their partner over it—whether it’s being gay or bisexual, kinky, polyamorous, asexual, or something else.
Sometimes people have shame about sex itself or about pleasure. They are not able to just experience pleasure and desire because they’ve been taught it’s bad. They have a hard time orgasming or enjoying their partner because they feel shame about sex. A lot of times this is learned from their family or a religious upbringing that doesn’t support them to have an open, healthy sexual life.
Sometimes there is a lot of shame attached to having been sexually assaulted or abused. If those wounds haven’t been healed, the shame can rear its head over and over and make it really hard to experience healthy, fulfilling sex until you heal it. And you can heal it. I’ve healed mine and turned it into gold. I’ve watched and helped thousands of people heal their abuse. You have to decide that your healing and empowerment is more important than your victimization.
It goes on and on. Shame is a deeper issue that really demands the support of a good therapist trained in sexual issues or a sex coach. If you are at the beginning of your process with a shame that has been debilitating, I recommend therapy. If you are ready to release the shame and move forward, hire a coach. But do not go to a therapist or coach who is untrained in sexual issues because that can just make it worse.
Whatever your situation, if you are in a place of shame about your sexuality, your body, your sexual expression, your sex life or your sexual skills in any way, take some action right away to work on that shame. It will fester and grow if you leave it to tend itself. That’s what shame does…and I don’t want that for you. We’ve got enough people and institutions shaming us about sexuality so be bold and take a step to put an end to the way you have internalized that shame. It will free you in so many ways…not just in the bedroom.