To feel shame around sex and our sexuality is a common experience. However, as a society, we tend to avoid the topics of both sex and shame. Even more so when these experiences are combined. This can make us feel like we are the only ones who worry about sex.
Sexual shame can make us focus on performance, making sure we do everything right so we can avoid any sense of sexual failure. When we do this, we lose any connection to our own pleasure as our efforts are concentrated on the person we are having sex with. Sexual shame can also make us want to avoid sex altogether, as this is preferable to the potential of feeling shame if we don’t stack up.
It is not uncommon for people who feel sexual shame to prefer to watch porn and masturbate, rather than having partnered sex. This doesn’t mean that you are addicted to sex or are not interested in your sexual partner. It is simply that, in the moment, you are not at risk of feeling shame as there is no one to disappoint and fail. Porn and masturbation is a safer way to be sexually expressive.
Shame can feel so intolerable that we will do much to avoid the feeling, whether avoiding, suppressing, or over-compensating sexually. However, as a shame researcher, I believe we do not have to carry on living with sexual shame.
With empathy and compassion, my aim is to help those who are living with shame become their fully authentic sexual selves.