Anna Freud invited us to consider that “Sex is something you do, sexuality is something you are.”

Building on this, we can define sexuality as the way we experience and express ourselves as sexual beings. What makes sexuality a complex dimension is that it is determined by many factors including our body, gender, age, culture, history, media, religion and family.

What makes our experience of our sexuality important is that it affects our overall sense of self, our relationship with others and the life we live.

The most important factor enhancing our sexuality – one that is often overlooked but can out-trump age, culture, prior history, and body type is ATTITUDE.

  • The man or woman with an accepting sense of self is most often the most attractive person in the room….
  • He/she is not necessarily the person with the classic looks, the newest car or the best paying job; but rather, the person smiling, making eye contact, enthused with others and enthused with life.
  • The positive way we think and how we feel about ourselves plays a major role in our sexuality and in the pleasure we have in expressing it.

Developing a positive attitude will enhance sexuality. Here are some strategies.

Six Strategies That Foster Attitude and Enhance Sexuality

Reach for Your Personal Best

  • In a culture that inundates us with airbrushed and computer-altered versions of beauty, it can be difficult to reach for, much less appreciate, your personal best.
  • Research findings, for example, suggest that 70% of college women say they feel worse about their own looks after reading magazines. A 2006 study of men showed that that watching prime time television and music videos appeared to make men more uncomfortable about themselves.
  • Consider using the media for your own needs.  If you can use media for self-enhancement tips, entertainment, or motivation – great. Struggling to meet unattainable “ looks” or giving up on yourself because you are not what you see – legitimizes unrealistic criteria.
  • Remember that ads are selling something, performers are  “on stage” and real people appreciate real people.

“Personal Best” involves self-care. Feeling and looking healthy as a result of sleep, good eating, good hygiene and some form of exercise is attractive from the inside out. An interesting finding revealed that even if there were just starting to walk or go to a gym –women felt better, sexier and more confident after some form of exercise.

Looks Do Matter – but it matters that it is the look you want and it is a look that makes you feel great. It goes without saying that “ feeling comfortable” is one thing – but an unkempt sloppy look is not likely to be an ego booster for you or a big draw for others.

Caring  About What You Are Wearing Matters – It doesn’t matter what style of clothing you are wearing. It is the fun and positive feeling of liking what you are wearing – be it a hat or great boots that makes you feel attractive–that enhances sexuality and gives off that message.

 Embrace Authenticity

  • Trying to “be” the person someone else wants you to be or trying to like what someone else likes hijacks your authenticity and dilutes your sexuality.
  • People who are really interested in something are very interesting. People who are truly passionate about something are attractive in their enthusiasm and mastery.
  • In this regard the media has served us well in opening  the doors for celebrating a wide diversity of passions and interests. Across gender we see that chefs, ballroom dancers, teachers, golfers, computer geeks and bikers are masterful, exciting and sexy.
  • Follow your passions and it will lead to passion.

Turn up the Affection and Attunement

 “ Do you mind if we slow dance?”

  • Too often, men and women overlook the positive impact of acting on their sexuality “ outside the bedroom” with attunement and affection.
  • Affirmation of and interest in the other in the form of eye contact, compliments, remembering the favorite cup of coffee, the dessert she liked, the information he needed – feels like special caring and invites response and connection by most people.
  • Affection that reflects a growing mutual interest or an age-old love story in the form of a kiss, a hug, a hand held, a cuddling together, ignites the experience of sexuality between people.
  • Affection and Attunement that follow a sexual encounter expands the possibilities in the future.

Drop the Self-Judgment and Expectations

One important way to enhance the natural progression from sexuality to sexual experience is to drop the self-judgments and expectations.

The reality is that despite what women think – men don’t need women to be perfect or to have perfect bodies and despite what men think, women don’t need them to be sexual studs or to have perfect erections. What each one wants is to be desired and seduced!

Turn up the Imagination – Suspend reality and leave room for the transformation of arousal and fantasy – Don’t point out your imperfections, demand reports, expect disclosures, give ratings, talk about the kids or make comments about past lovers. Try being in the moment.

Think pleasure not performance.

Think connection not perfection.

Empty the Baggage From the Past

  • Many men and women carry baggage from the past that has compromised a positive or safe experience of their sexuality. It is difficult to shake the imprint of an abusing parent; a demeaning high school experience or the self-loathing and regrets about connection to the wrong person. It is difficult but not impossible.
  • It is worth recognizing that “ context matters” in understanding sexuality. The negative feelings of sexuality tied to the context of an abusive family, school or earlier marriage are symptoms of the dysfunction of those settings and the people in them– not you.
  • Going forward dilutes the potency of the past.
  • If you feel frightened and frozen to venture into social and potentially sexual situations, take your time and re-frame your goal: Go out with the intention of  “being friendly,”  “practicing new social skills,” or “ checking out” people and places – not meeting someone. Try on-line dating with the initial plan of having coffee to find out more about “you” in the eyes of other men and women. Replace self-loathing with self-acceptance and reclaim your sexuality with the wisdom of “Lessons Learned.”

Don’t Forget The Laughter

  • It is hard to imagine sexuality without the ability to laugh with others, laugh at ourselves and enjoy the moments in life.
  • What is more appealing or attractive than people smiling and laughing? Isn’t that why we “smile” at the camera?
  • When two people find a lot to laugh about, they often have a lot of reasons to be intimate together.

 Your Sexuality is Central to Your Vitality and Sense of Self – Carry it with Attitude 

Couple dancing photo available from Shutterstock.

 







    Last reviewed: 19 Sep 2013

APA Reference
Phillips, S. (2012). Enhancing Your Sexuality: Six Important Strategies. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 27, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/healing-together/2012/06/enhancing-your-sexuality-six-important-strategies/

 

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Suzanne Phillips, Psy.D., ABPP & Dianne Kane, DSW are the authors of Healing Together: A Couple's Guide to Coping with Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress. Pick up the book today!

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