As a culture, we really don’t understand “sexy,” a concept that has been largely created for us. We don’t have to buy in, however.
Almost daily, we see ads on television of underwear models pitching clothing meant to allure, or magazine ads for scents that will supposedly attract a mate. These marketing tactics promise us love, sex, passion, and romance—shallow, misleading promises that keep us coming back for more products.
When I work with people in therapy on their sexual confidence issues, I often ask them how they define sexy. Sadly, many relate sexiness to the appearance of body parts. Some tend to focus on what they consider “unflattering” areas of their bodies and base their attractiveness and sexual confidence on the features they believe to be imperfect. Lacking confidence, many are reluctant to initiate sex or practice any form of sexual assertion, leaving them (and their partners) unfulfilled and putting a strain on their relationships.
The good news is sexual confidence can be developed, and you alone have the power to define it. So what does it look like and how might it manifest? Consider whether you apply the following five areas to your self-concept in how confident and sexy you feel:
1. You Feel Good in Your Own Skin
Feeling good in your own skin does not necessarily mean feeling that the aesthetics of your body are perfect. It means you recognize you do not owe anyone an explanation for who you are, what you look like, how you live, or the choices you make.
It means you do not feel the urge to justify why you wear your hair that way, why you spend your money on organic food, or why you chose the career field you work in. It means you feel comfortable with your decisions and do not need or seek the approval of others for the choices you make. YOU approve of you and that is all you need.
2. You Say ‘Yes’ to Life
Saying “yes” to life does not mean you live without inhibition. It means you feel afraid and find courage to take certain risks anyway. You may take risks to grow and develop, step outside your comfortable “box,” or do something new that perhaps both excites and terrifies you.
You are willing to take the risk because you know that if things do not work out as hoped, you will be okay. No matter what life throws your way, at your core you feel solid in who you are, the relationships you choose, and how you live your life.
3. You Accept All Parts of Yourself
We all have “the good, the bad, and the ugly” within us. When you practice confidence, you do not try to hide the darker side of you but rather face it, confront it, accept it, and even embrace it.
You recognize that all of these parts make up the whole you, that you have probably developed and grown the most from “the bad” and “the ugly.” You find value in confronting those parts of yourself, and as tough as they might be, you would not trade them for anything else.
4. You Feel Whole
Making good choices leaves little room for guilt and shame, neither of which leave room for confidence.
When you participate in a relationship with confidence, you do not look for your partner to “complete” you. You do not look for your partner to fill a void or hole in your life.
Rather, you recognize that you already show up as a whole, complete person. You recognize your independence and your interdependence. You recognize that your “need” for your partner does not come from an emptiness within you but rather from knowing that your partner’s companionship and love may support you in reaching greater heights.
5. You Take Care of Your Health
When I focus on my “imperfect” body parts, it has less to do with my figure and more with my lack of healthy choices. Gaining or losing weight does not contribute to a lack of confidence. I lose confidence when I become a couch potato, when I make unhealthy choices, or when I neglect my need for a good night’s rest.
When I make better choices, my weight might not shift and my body might not change, but I feel healthier, better, sexier. Confidence, for me, has less to do with body shape and more to do with feeling at ease with my choices. Making good choices leaves little room for guilt and shame, neither of which leave room for confidence.
Think of confidence as a muscle that you have to work to strengthen daily. Our social structures and pressures can render anyone vulnerable to feeling “not good enough,” “less than,” or “unsexy,” and these negative thought patterns can influence how we participate in romantic relationships. Bottom line: Embrace the part of you that lives beneath your skin. Now that’s sexy!
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