Self-esteem affects every aspect of your life — relationships, friendships, professional life, and, yes, even your sexual experiences. Low self-esteem can strip away the joy from most things, including sex. That’s because sexuality isn’t isolated but rather a combination of numerous emotional, cultural, physiological, psychological, and interpersonal factors, each of which can be traced back to your self-esteem.
Self-esteem is an individual’s evaluation of themselves, i.e., whether they’re capable, loveable, and deserving of happiness. You need to have healthy self-esteem to truly enjoy your sexuality. Without self-esteem, you may distrust your partners’ love and affection because you wouldn’t feel worthy of it. In fact, the confluence between self-esteem and sexuality has also lead to the rise of the term “sexual self-esteem.”
Self-esteem is an individual’s evaluation of themselves, i.e., whether they’re capable, loveable, and deserving of happiness.
This article explores sexual self-esteem and how self-esteem affects your sexuality.
What is Sexual Self-Esteem?
Sexual self-esteem is a term used to describe how you view your sexual identity. It includes various components, such as whether you believe you’re sexually attractive or capable. How you view yourself in sexual scenarios is the central component of sexual self-esteem. Your perception of your sexual capabilities is also tied to your body image, i.e., how you perceive your body. Those who believe themselves to be unattractive are likely to have less self-esteem.
Various factors can lead to low sexual self-esteem, such as a history of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, a history of emotional or sexual embarrassments, or being called sexually derogatory names. You may also have low sexual self-esteem if you believe you’re unattractive because of your weight, age, skin color, or other factors. In fact, even those who conform to society’s conception of “beauty” may experience sexual self-esteem issues due to internal anxieties or external pressures.
Researchers have gone so far as to call low sexual self-esteem a “disability.” That’s because people with low sexual self-esteem are more likely to engage in higher-risk sexual behaviors, such as unprotected sex and putting themselves in dangerous/ damaging situations. Individuals with low sexual self-esteem are also less likely to trust healthy sexual relationships due to internal fears or beliefs. As such, your sexuality is intrinsically tied to your self-esteem and vice versa.
In the next section, we explore the individual ways in which self-esteem affects your sexuality.
How Does Self-Esteem Affect Your Sexuality?
1. Sexual Motivations
Most people realize that low self-esteem can lead to poor sexual decisions, and high self-esteem can lead to good sexual decisions. If you have strong self-esteem, you’re likely to make decisions based on what you want, and you’ll feel confident about enforcing your decisions. For example, if you’re sexually attracted to someone but don’t want to practice safe sex, you’ll feel confident enough to walk away rather than succumbing to the ultimatum.
The lack of self-esteem also leads to the wrongful feeling that your sexuality is all you have to offer. This internal belief can drive you to have sex with people you don’t want to have sex with or stay in situations wherein you’re not being respected. Healthy self-esteem, meanwhile, gives you the power to explore sexual partners based on actual desires, which, in turn, bolsters your self-esteem even further.
Self-esteem, self-confidence, and sexuality are intrinsically linked. If you have a healthy sex life, you’re more likely to feel confident, which, in turn, will increase your self-esteem. If you have strong self-esteem, you’re more likely to pursue healthy avenues of exploring your sexuality and enjoy your sex life, which will make you seem more confident, and, in turn, feel sexier.
However, the opposite is also true. The lack of self-esteem can also lead to the loss of confidence in your sexuality. This can manifest in numerous ways, including arrogant sexual advances and exaggerated claims. This shows that self-esteem is essential for confidence and sex appeal.
3. Body Image
Most of us feel self-conscious about certain parts of our bodies. While a little self-examination is perfectly normal and inevitable, an unhealthy obsession with your body and appearance can lead to back sexual experiences. If you have severe body image issues, you’re likely to focus on that body part during sex because of the fear that your partner judges you based on that body part.
This may make you orchestrate positions wherein you can hide that body part or constantly apologize for it, affecting your overall sexual experience.
This may make you orchestrate positions wherein you can hide that body part or constantly apologize for it, affecting your overall sexual experience. Furthermore, partners often interpret your preoccupation with your body as a sign of a lack of interest in them, which can further complicate your sexual experience. Meanwhile, people with healthy self-esteem can devote themselves entirely to the pursuit of pleasure.
Developing Healthy Sexual Self-Esteem.
If you believe you have low sexual self-esteem or see yourself in the examples illustrated above, you can take several measures to overcome the issue. If you’re concerned about your body, you can explore the roots of your dissatisfaction and remind yourself not to chase unhealthy (and arbitrary) beauty goals.
If your lack of self-esteem is causing relationship problems, it helps to have a frank discussion with your partner. This will give them the information and tools they need to work with you and help you. And if you believe you have severely low self-esteem, It may help to gain professional insight and pursue therapy.
Those articles might also be of interest if you want to pursue your journey towards healthy selfhood: