The Power of Learning How to Feel Sexy

Learning how to feel sexy

We’ve been talking a great deal about sex, passion and sexual intimacy here at How to Spice Up Your Marriage, but in today’s post, I’d like to shift gears just a little and talk about the importance of feeling sexy even when sex isn’t necessarily on the agenda.

How do you define sexy? Do you know how to feel sexy?

Experiencing yourself or your partner as sexy (as an emotionally-charged sexual being) is a totally subjective phenomenon. Sexiness comes in all shapes and sizes, ethnicities, races and ages. What one person finds tantalizingly sexy another may experience as painfully obnoxious. And while society and the media continually inundate us with their versions of what is considered sexy (and attractive), this portrayal of sexiness is frequently unrealistic and restrictive and has done more damage to the self-esteem of the many who do not fit those skewed images of “sexy.”

Sexiness and Sex Appeal: It’s All In Your Attitude

“By most standards of attractiveness, my old boyfriend James was pretty ordinary. He was short and slightly overweight; he had a round face and his hair was thinning…And oh God, was he sexy to me! There was something about him, the way he carried himself… I can’t put my finger on it, but to me, he exuded sex appeal.” ~ Latisha, trying to describe what made her ex-boyfriend sexy

Latisha’s description of James points to an important distinction that many of us fail to make: sexiness and attractiveness aren’t necessarily synonymous. You can find someone objectively attractive, you can identify their physical features you admire, yet at the same time, that same person may fall flat in the arena of sex appeal. Sex appeal can transcend one’s physical appearance.

Feeling sexy is a state of mind; it arises out of feeling good about yourself, but it is much more than that. Sexiness starts with a connection to yourself as a sexual and sensual being; it involves tapping into the life-affirming sexual energy that exists within you and allowing this libidinous force to radiate through you. When the pathway to your sexuality is opened, every part of you is impacted: It shapes your mood and behavior, it affects the way you move and hold your body, it influences how you relate to yourself and others.

Sexiness feeds off of different feelings and self-experiences—it’s a mixture of playfulness and confidence (even if it’s a very quiet, understated confidence); sensuality and coquettishness; part enticement with dashes of suggestiveness and provocativeness… The list of what makes you feel sexy (or what makes you perceive someone as sexy) is endless, a testament to the subjective nature of sexiness. For instance, you might find shyness and timidity very sexy while another person may find an in-your-face confidence and assertiveness sexy.

How to Feel Sexy: Lifting the Blocks to Your Sexual-self

We all have the potential to feel more intensely alive and empowered while connected to our sexuality. This potential, however, is easily thwarted, and the result is that we become estranged from a vital part of ourselves. Undoing these blocks is an important step in integrating your sexual-self (and your libidinal energies) into the rest of your identity (where it can exist side-by-side and in harmony with the other parts of your personality and the different roles you inhabit throughout your life).

1) Comparison to Biased Images of Sexiness

As I mentioned above, we are all inundated with images and messages that create a limited and distorted view of sexiness. Once you’ve internalized these images (that is, once they’ve taken up residence in your unconscious as well as your conscious mind), a comparison between yourself and these images is set into motion.

This comparison process can be so automatic that you are not even consciously aware that it is occurring. And if you do not neatly fit into the narrow confines of this distorted view of sexiness (which most of us don’t), your sexual-self (along with your ability to feel sexy) retreats into hiding where it feels unworthy compared to these stilted images of sexiness. Comparing yourself to others is always a slippery slope, and it should have absolutely no place in your life, especially when it comes to giving yourself permission to feel sexually empowered.

2) The Oppressive Energy of Fear

Fear creates an energy of constriction that shrinks our inner world (our freedom to feel, think, create, imagine and fantasize becomes encapsulated), while also restricting our engagement with our outer world. In order to feel sexy, you must experience freedom—a freedom from the inner and outer constraints that limit you.

When fear directly targets your sexuality, you might be overly concerned with what others might think of you (if you allowed yourself to feel and act sexy) or you might be afraid of the power of your own libidinous energy (e.g., it might be scary to feel the power of your sexual-self).

3) Negative Stereotypes about What It Means to Be Sexy

As I mentioned in the opening of this article, sexiness has few limits and comes in all shapes and sizes. Whenever we hold a particular stereotype about a person (i.e., this person should act and behave in a particular way), we place limits on them. And sometimes these limits shatter the potential to celebrate our sexuality and experiences of sexiness. Our gender stereotypes often lead us to be highly critical, especially regarding the issue of sex and what it means to be sexy.

For instance, take Jean. She is a successful businesswoman who has been married for almost thirty years and has three grown children. Jean often feels sexual (and has for most of her adult life), but she fights these feelings and, for years, has tried to repress her sexual-self. This occurred after she had children because, as she put it, “Someone who is a responsible mother shouldn’t be indulging her sexuality.” For the last five years Jean has restarted the battle with her sexual-self because she believes, sadly, that she is too old to be sexy (she is sixty-six).

Jean’s anti-sexy stereotypes stem from her beliefs that to feel and be sexy you must be a certain age (sexy is only for the young) and that you cannot be sexy and still be a responsible person (to be sexy means that you are somehow irresponsible). As a result of these stereotypes, Jean has denied an important aspect of herself, and this kind of self-estrangement always comes at a significant emotional cost.

4) External Circumstances That Prevent You from Feeling Sexy

There are certain conditions that nurture our sexual-self, external circumstances that allow us to more readily connect to our sexual energy (a supportive partner; “adult time” without the kids; a romantic dinner; mental foreplay with a lover that stirs our sexual desire; certain foods; a glass of wine). And, of course, there are many conditions that cause our sexual-self to go partially or totally dormant (the demands of parenting; high levels of stress; poor self-care; unresolved marital/relationship conflicts).

Since sexual desire and one’s ability to feel sexy is sensitive to the context of what is happening in our life, it becomes important to actively create conditions that allow us the psychic space needed to reconnect to our sexual-self.

Remember, you can feel sexy and not want sex and you can want sex without feeling sexy. Sexiness is a mindset—it’s a way of being and relating to yourself and others. You can make yourself feel sexy (by unblocking the channels to your sexual energy), and/or someone else can make you feel this way (by giving you the confidence and permission to open yourself up to your own inherent sexual energy).

How To Spice Up Your Relationship Action Step

Discovering how to connect to your sexual-self and learning how to feel sexy is a gift to give yourself. This will take some work on your part, and the most important step is identifying the blocks that prevent you from accessing what already exists within you.

While practicing feeling sexy, you might have to “fake it until you make it” (borrowing a phrase from twelve-step programs). As you work on increasing your sexiness quotient, you might want to try the following:

  • Move your body in different ways that feel sexy to you (as you do this, notice any shifts in energy throughout your body—practice this daily and don’t stop yourself if your movements turn into a full-blown dance!);
  • What are some healthy images of sexiness you can create and hold onto (replacing any unhealthy images of sexiness you might have adopted throughout your life)?;
  • Are there any articles of clothing that make you feel more sexy? While wearing these, notice what it feels like to experience yourself as a sexual being and try to savor these feelings.

(Featured [top] image Silver Male Female Heart” by Thaikrit/