Any inhibitions – even something as simple as making love with the lights on – can be overcome using a simple training programme.
There is no denying that inhibitions are personal, but, at the same time, they are learned and very much governed by fashion. For example, 50 years ago oral sex was considered a perversion and to be inhibited about it was not only acceptable but normal. Today, however, many women are branded as inhibited simply because they have not yet taken this new message on board.
What cannot also be denied is that, however acquired, inhibitions prevent people from getting the best out of sexual pleasure.
But, fortunately, given that sexual inhibitions are in the main learned, they can be unlearned if the individual is willing.
Deciding to act
Perhaps surprisingly, the best starting point is to discuss with your partner what you each mean by love. During such a session, both partners usually reveal that they have their own unique ideas about the subject and their own stereotypes which they expect their partner to fulfil.
Just because a woman cannot go along with something sexual does not necessarily mean that she does not love her man, yet many men put such conditions on their love-bond. ‘Any woman who really loved me would do …’ is a common cry. But this can be a very false and damaging definition of love.
On the other side of the coin are those women who realize only too well what their needs are, yet say nothing for fear of appearing tarty in their partner’s eyes. It is a sad fact that, in millions of homes, one partner may be fantasizing about something he or she would like to do – and which their partner might very well be prepared to do – yet the subject is never discussed. Before turning to their partner, they may look elsewhere for satisfaction – often with disastrous results.
Play a game
Make a list of sexual subjects which cause problems to you in your relationship and put each on a small slip of paper. Suitable subjects might include penis size, oral sex, breast size, occasional impotence, PMT, semen, talking during intercourse or who initiates sex.
Take it in turns to pull one out of the pile unseen and share your thoughts about it. Say what you think about it and honestly try to be understanding about your partner’s point of view.
Take time, be sexy
Invest more time and care in your love life generally. If you want your partner to be less inhibited in a particular way, a good start is to ensure that he or she is being made love to in a way that really pleases him or her.
An individual who feels taken for granted, is bored, or frankly turned off much of the time, is very unlikely to want to behave in an uninhibited way.
Make a positive effort to act more sexually in general. To at least some extent, we can ‘act’ in a more uninhibited way and achieve what we want. At first this may seem a little false, but with practice it could become second nature and at least gets you over the first hurdle.
As time passes, reveal more and more of yourself (and not just your sexual self) to your partner and you will be amazed how it lessens your inhibitions. We all want to be fully understood by somebody, preferably by our partner, but this cannot happen in a vacuum. Both partners need to make an effort to share more of themselves.
Draw the line
Accept that everyone has a ‘final position’ on certain things – a line which they will not venture beyond. Although these lines can be bent a little, this is often the most that can be expected. What every loving couple should aim for is to be sufficiently mature to be able to come to terms with their respective ‘final positions’ and not to make an issue out of them.
Thought stopping is a simple, do-it-yourself psychological technique that uncouples negative thoughts such as guilt and anxiety from your thinking and substitutes instead positive, helpful thoughts. It works because the brain can only cope with one emotion at once and one emotion can flood out another.
The moment a negative thought comes into your head that makes you feel anxious, fearful, or guilty and which inhibits you from doing something you or your partner want to do, shout ‘STOP’ loudly and crash your hand down on something. Quickly replace the thought with another, positive one that pleases or excites you. To do this you will need to get a bank of exciting and pleasant thoughts ready.
Practise thought stopping eight or 10 times a day, or whenever a negative thought enters your head. Over a few weeks, the number of negative thoughts you have should reduce and you will become better at flooding them out.
Step-by-step desensitization is another psychological game that alters the way you behave and is based, like all behavioural therapy, on the notion that if something can be learned it can be unlearned.
This method works well for ridding yourself of anxiety, or fear of guilt-providing thoughts that make you sexually inhibited. For example, a woman is too inhibited to make love with the lights on. She understands her problem and it annoys her. She wants to be able to change, but every time she tries to overcome her inhibition her feelings of anxiety rise to such a level that she either will not have sex at all with the lights on or gets little or no pleasure from it when she does have intercourse.
Take it slowly
To expect such a person to jump from their current fear level to actually living out her goal is quite unrealistic. She will never do it, and blackmail, shouting and threats will achieve nothing.
A woman in this situation clearly has deep-seated, learned, negative ideas about her body and as a result is loath to display it. She might also be afraid of being seen having an orgasm.
Read the signs
First of all, you need to learn the signs of fear and anxiety so that you can recognize what is happening to you when faced with a difficult sexual situation. You could score the sensations as follows:
0 – Completely relaxed.
1 – Slight anxiety. Sweating a little and wondering if you have to go through with it.
2 – Moderate anxiety. Tension building up. Butterflies in the tummy.
3 – High anxiety. Heart pounding and profuse sweating, shaking, pains in the head and the stomach.
4 – Unacceptable anxiety. Want to run away.
5 – Total panic.
The next thing to do is divide up your problem on a 10-point scale starting with a very easily achievable goal that produces no anxiety at all and ends up with the thing you want to achieve.
Make up a plan
A scale plan for learning to make love with the lights on might be as follows:
• Lie on the bed, fully clothed alongside your partner, reading a sexy book or magazine showing women and men in bed together naked.
• Lie in bed naked under the bed-clothes with your partner with the lights on reading the sexy magazine.
• Lie in bed naked under the bedclothes with your partner, keeping the lights on.
• Lie in bed naked with your partner with no covers on and with the lights off.
• Lie in bed naked with your partner with no covers and the lights on.
• Undress in front of your partner with the lights on.
• Walk around naked in front of your partner.
• Bath or shower together.
• Make love with the lights on.
The first step in this technique is to relax and raise your level of sexual arousal by cuddling, kissing, reading a sexy book or magazine together, or whatever turns you on. When you are aroused and feeling happy and relaxed, do the first item on the list. On the proven principle that pleasure and sexual arousal reduce anxiety, use the nice feeling to help you.
If you feel totally relaxed and there are no signs of anxiety, you can go on to the next stage and so on until you arrive at the step that makes you anxious. Stop here. Do not go on. Use your thought-stopping techniques to flood out the anxious thoughts and calm yourself down until you feel relaxed and happy again. On this, or on another occasion, try that step again, perhaps when you are more sexually aroused or when you are feeling exceptionally loving.
Work up the list step by step so that over a few weeks you are able to go right up to the last one, 10, and can do it without any signs or feeling of anxiety.
You will probably find that as you climb the list your sexual fantasies will change too. This is good. Build on it. Let your mind jump about on the scale during masturbation, with or without your partner, so that you have rehearsed in fantasy what you want to achieve in practice. You must not actually do anything, though, unless you have worked carefully up to it, step by step, or you may find yourself disappointed.
Step-by-step desensitization can be used for a number of other sexual anxieties such as fear of oral sex, deep penetration and so on.