How the Word “Should” is Killing Your Sex Life

You should be like this. You should do that. If you want a healthy sexy life you should try this with your partner. There are “should’s” any direction you turn these days. People, other people, who you have not met, are telling you how you should act. In graduate school, I heard the phrase, “shoulding all over yourself” as a reference to “shitting all over yourself.” Not a very pleasant thought, right? To imagine shitting all over yourself is quite the scene. Yet, when we “should” ourselves (aka compare, try to measure up to others, do as we are told against our own better judgment) we are doing just that.

So how is this affecting your sex life?

One of the most common and earliest conversations I have with people in sessions are about what is normal. Are they normal, are their desires normal, are they doing it right. Then sentences like: “I heard I should be doing this, I should just do that more.” This shaming of the self and disconnecting from what is true for you is simply not sexy. And worse, it is killing your sex life. Comparing yourself to others and trying to measure up is robbing you of the chance to find out what is real for you in the moment.

How can you get what you want out of the experience?

Not sure what you want, you say?

Welcome. Welcome to the state of “not being sure,” which is a huge part of the process of being human. Especially being a human trying to have a connected, loving, and intimate relationship with another human. For the most part, we are all just trying to figure out what is it is we want and need moment to moment. We don’t actually know what that is till we arrive at that place.

Take for instance the questions around you and your partner having sex often enough. I hear comments like, “I heard we should be having sex 5 times a week. That means we are in love and our relationship is going well.” How often you have sex does not necessarily represent how well your relationship is going. A better representation might be: are you happy, satisfied, and feel like you are getting your needs met? When you are with your partner does it feel meaningful, do you feel they care about your needs; physical and emotional?

If you should yourself into trying to have more sex, you most likely won’t be that into it. Simply following what you think you should do will leave your sexual experience empty and meaningless.

When we make decisions from a should place, we are skipping over our own sense of self need. It is basically like saying to yourself, “I don’t trust what you want, I trust what others are telling me.” You could see how over time, this mentality could leave someone very confused around their own needs.

Other things people should about: I should get off from oral sex, I should get off from penetration sex,  I shouldn’t have sex on a first date, I should be turned on by just a kiss, I should look a certain way.

I could talk about the should’s (or shouldn’ts) people have shared with me for days. It seems like the list goes on and on. What would be some more constructive questions to ask yourself when things seem to not be going just quite right – that won’t kill your sex life?

How about:

  • Are we happy with the amount of sex we are having? Do I feel satisfied with how our sexual interactions happen? Do I feel comfortable initiating? Does my partner feel comfortable initiating? Are we having fun? Do we feel connected?
  • Do I want to have sex with this person? Do I find them attractive? What about them am I attracted to? Does this feel like the right thing for me in the moment?
  • Do I want to get off from oral sex? Is that possibly for me and my body? Can I talk to my partner about this?
  • Do I enjoy penetration sex? Does my partner know how I like it? How do they know that? Are there different positions I would like to try?

It’s more about deepening into what you do actually get turned on by, not about engaging sexually the way other people think you should. It’s about learning to trust yourself.

– Keeley