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Are Unrealistic Sexual Expectations Preventing You From Enjoying Sex?

Do you have a set idea of what sex should look like? 

Whether it’s the first time or the hundredth time, many of us feel pressure to meet certain expectations when it comes to sex. 

We feel like we need to perform a certain way. Or reach a specific goal. We may even have expectations we place on our partners. 

So where do these “sexpectations” come from? 

Past experiences, societal messages, and personal insecurities can all play a role in setting the stage for unrealistic expectations.

Of course, not all expectations are bad. For instance, you should expect your partner to respect your needs and boundaries. And knowing what you want during sex is a great thing.

But sometimes we develop unrealistic sexual expectations that prevent us from enjoying sex. 

How do you know if you’ve developed unrealistic sexual expectations? 

Keep reading for some of the most common expectations keeping you from having great sex. And our best advice on letting them go to make space for the pleasure and intimacy you’re searching for. 

Sexual Expectation 1: Sex Should Look a Certain Way

If you’re focusing on how you look, what your body is doing, and whether you’re doing things “right,” you’ll surely make it impossible to enjoy yourself. These worries can give way to performance anxiety. 

Performance anxiety happens when we can’t get out of our heads and into the moment. And it can lead your body to release stress hormones, making it hard for you to have good sex.

Instead of getting caught up in “doing it right,” focus on what feels good.

Sexual Expectation 2: The Need to Reach Orgasm

Reaching an orgasm is a big expectation for many individuals and couples. And many people struggle with concerns like:

  • Orgasming too quickly
  • Taking too long to orgasm
  • Not having an orgasm at all

We often hold this expectation that orgasms should always happen during sex and at precisely the right time. And if it doesn’t go exactly as we’d like, we feel disappointed, frustrated, and anxious.

But the act of worrying makes it hard for your body to feel excited. Your brain can’t force your body to react in a certain way. Instead, the stress and expectation can completely derail your experience. 

Sexual Expectation 3: There’s a Normal Amount of Sex

What qualifies as enough sex? Should you be having sex once a month, once a week, every day?

We’ll tell you right now—there’s no normal amount of sex you should be having. No magic number you should strive towards. 

The amount of sex you should have is the amount that you and your partner are happy with. Period.

Your sexual connection will shift throughout your relationship. Life responsibilities can get in the way. Stressful periods in life can reduce your feelings of sexual desire. You may have lower desire as you get older. Your desire may increase as you feel more secure in your relationship. 

What matters is finding the right amount for your unique relationship.

Sexual Expectation 4: Your Partner Should Know What You Want

Also known as the mindreading expectation. Many people assume their partners should just know what they want—especially if you’ve been together for a while. 

You may start to think that your partner knows your desires without you having to vocalize them. But if you never tell your partner what you want, how can they know? 

And desires often shift over time. If you never say anything, your partner won’t know to change their behavior. So they may continue doing something that used to give you pleasure but no longer does.

Withholding your sexual needs from your partner is not only unfair to both of you, but it’s also a recipe for pressure and resentment.

Instead of expecting that your partner should just know, have open conversations about your needs. It might feel a bit awkward at first, but it will be worth it in the long run.

Sexual Expectation 5: Your Sexual Desires Will Always Match Up

Most couples experience sexual desire discrepancies at some point in the relationship. Sexual desire can shift throughout your life, and external factors like stress or illness can impact your desire for sex.

A more reasonable expectation to hold is that both you and your partner are willing to work on intimacy. The key is to find a balance that will help both of you feel like your needs are being met. 

Sexual Expectation 6: Sex Requires No Effort

Do you believe that all sex should happen spontaneously? That the passion should strike out of the blue and you’ll just be ready to go?

But now that you’ve been together a while, things have changed. You’ve both settled into a routine and the excitement has waned.

Sex at the beginning of your relationship may feel spontaneous, but remember you’re actively prioritizing it by making time for it, being present during it, and communicating about it.

You need to continue to put in the effort to maintain the intimacy. This means being intentional about quality time together, trying new things, and renewing and revitalizing things as you grow together. 

How to Break Free of Sexual Expectations

The good news is, the clamor of sexual expectations can be calmed. The best way to dial down the noise and tune into intimacy is to approach your sexual relationship with curiosity. 

Instead of focusing on specific outcomes and expectations, get curious about how you and your partner can explore sex together. 

What new things can you try? How can you be more present with each other? What feels good for both of you? 

When you focus on your relationship journey, rather than set end goals, you’re more likely to find intimacy along the way.

Let Go of Expectations, Let In More Enjoyment

When you let go of preconceived notions about sex, you make room for more enjoyment. You and your partner can explore new territory without the pressure of meeting expectations. 

Think of what you and your partner can discover once you break free from the expectations you’ve built up around sex. This is where true intimacy begins–a shared adventure in which both of you get to explore and learn about each other, without the weight of pressure or performance.

And if you’re still struggling, you might benefit from professional guidance. A sex therapist can assist you in exploring the expectations that are holding you back and help you discover new paths to intimacy.
Need some extra support? Contact us today to learn more about sex therapy.

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