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Did you know it’s possible to have a pleasurable sexual experience when you’re feeling down in the dumps?
Yep! In fact, some sexuality professionals say having sex can help you climb out of said dumps (!).
Read on to learn the benefits of getting it on while feeling bleh. Plus, 17 sex positions for low self-confidence to try.
We believe pleasure is a fundamental aspect of a safe and healthy sex life. That’s why we rely on experienced writers, educators, and other experts to share their suggestions on everything from the technique you use to the sex toy you buy.
We only recommend something that we genuinely love, so if you see a shop link to a specific product or brand, know that it’s been thoroughly researched — if you know what we mean. Wink.
“Low confidence is often accompanied by self-defeating thoughts about our bodies or our competencies,” says certified sex therapist Casey Tanner, MA, LCPC, expert for LELO, a luxury pleasure product company.
When someone has these thoughts, they often unconsciously assume that their partner feels the same way, she says, and therefore imagine that their partner couldn’t possibly enjoy having sex with them.
“We shut down the idea of sex before we give our partner the chance to prove us wrong,” she says.
Engaging in sex when we’re feeling low(er) confidence can be an effective way to challenge the myth that our feelings are factual, explains Tanner.
By leaning into sexuality, we tell ourselves, “Just because I feel this about myself doesn’t mean that it’s true, or that my partner finds it true.”
Tanner adds: Having sex when you’re feeling meh also “makes a powerful statement to ourselves that we’re deserving of hot sex.”
Who you are, who your partner is, and the root of your low confidence plays a huge role in what position or type of sex you have.
Still, you’d be wise to keep these three tips top of
Ask for what you need
Maybe you’re self-conscious of your feet, so socks are a must for a confidence-filled sesh.
Maybe you need your partner to verbally affirm how much they love your belly when you’re boning.
Whatever you need to feel good in your bod and bed, ask for it!
No matter what kind of sex you’re having, “lube is going to add pleasure because it reduces friction and heightens sensation,” she says.
Don’t sleep with Confidence Vampires
It shouldn’t need to be said, but BBs, please don’t sleep with anyone who contributes to your low self-confidence.
“There’s no reason to stay with somebody who makes you feel less than confident about yourself,” White says.
“It isn’t going to get better, and it genuinely says more about them than it says about you.”
“Masturbation is the bedrock of having a good sex life,” says certified sex coach Gigi Engle, sex and intimacy sexpert for SKYN and author of “All the F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life.”
She explains: “You can’t expect someone to magically know how to make you orgasm if you don’t know how to make yourself orgasm [and bring yourself pleasure].”
Masturbating not only helps you figure out what you need to travel to O-Town and P-Place, it also gives you confidence to ask for those things during partnered and multipartnered play.
Heck, research literally shows that people who masturbate have higher confidence than people who don’t. Score!
Mirror, mirror on the wall
The mirror you use to check that your shoes match your shirt can be used to check out your coochie or cock, too.
“A lot of people have never even looked at their own genitals,” Engle says. “Really seeing yourself can help you become more comfortable with the way your body looks.”
And watching your hand (or vibe) while you self-pleasure can help you better understand what you like.
Other hand on deck
If you masturbate with your hands, odds are you have a go-to hand. But why not try using your other hand?
“There’s a misconception that there’s a ‘right’ way to pleasure yourself (and your partners),” Engle says.
Switching hands — or using both hands — can help you overcome that very idea.
There are a wide variety of reasons you may not want to touch your genitals directly.
Maybe you’re a survivor and skin-on-genital touch is triggering, for example. Or maybe the shape of your genitals brings about feelings of gender dysphoria.
If that’s you, consider using a vibrator that allows you to self-pleasure without touching your bits.
Some good vibe options include:
Have a hard time giving yourself the time or space to self-pleasure? Try doing it in a space where you already give yourself a rub down: the shower.
Just be careful not to get any soap or shampoo inside your bits. Fragrance can be irritating to the delicate vaginal and anal walls.
Don’t want to stand while you self-pleasure? Crawl into the tub instead!
Maybe even attach the The WaterSlyde to your faucet for hands-free pleasure. Or bring in your favorite waterproof toy.
“Hand sex is a great place to start when stimulating someone else, or being stimulated by someone else, if you’re feeling self-conscious,” Engle says.
For most people, hand sex feels less up close and personal compared to oral sex, she says.
“Mutual masturbating involves touching yourself in front of your partner while they touch themselves in front of you,” White says.
If you’re self-conscious about your bedroom skills, this is a good option.
Why? Because you get to watch your partner experience pleasure while practically receiving a one-on-one lesson about H-O-W they like to experience pleasure too, says Engle.
Maybe you’re menstruating and not in the mood to deal with the blood today.
Maybe you want to explore anal fingering but are nervous about poop residue.
Whatever the reason, if you’re engaging in finger play and feeling nervous about bodily fluids, having your Boo Thing sheath your finger with a finger cot (or sex glove) can help those nerves.
That way, if bodily fluids do happen, they get on latex, not skin!
If you’re in the mood for doggy style P-in-V but your partner is having trouble staying hard or doesn’t want to feel as exposed as they feel while strapping on, Tanner recommends trying digit doggy.
It may even feel better than doggy with a dildo or penis because “the hand can often reach angles and be flexible in ways a penis or dildo cannot,” she says.
“Notice what it feels like when your partner’s fingers are angled towards your stomach versus what it feels like when they’re angled towards your back,” Tanner adds.
Hand sex doggy style is also a good alternative for receivers who feel anxious about pain, lubrication, or pleasure, she says.
“Some people find that being able to sustain eye contact with their partner(s) during sex can help them feel more comfortable and more confident,” White says.
And missionary-style hand sex allows you to do just that.
Simply have the receiver lie on their back, and have the giver situate their bod on top of them, one hand reaching south.
“The beauty of oral sex is that it doesn’t require full nudity,” Tanner says.
That’s why she says it’s a great option for people who are looking to get intimate but aren’t ready for ~full~ exposure.
“When receiving, some people find themselves looking for signs that their partner isn’t enjoying themselves,” Tanner says.
Sound like something you do? She recommends explicitly asking your partner to be verbally appreciative.
You might say:
- “I love the way it feels when you taste me. But sometimes my nerves around the way I taste get in the way of me orgasming. Can I ask you to tell me that I taste good once or twice while you’re down there?”
- “To feel comfortable with you going down on me, I need you to promise that if I ever taste off that you’ll stop and let me know!”
- “I’ll be more comfortable receiving if I can shower first. Do you want to join me in the shower for a little pre-play?”
Facilitated face sitter
Too worried about your weight to straddle your partner’s face? Use a sex chair!
A stool outfitted with two bouncy-but-durable straps, a sex chair allows you to sit on your partner’s face without lowering all your weight on them.
Standing tongue swirl
Fact: The tongue-anus combo is undefeated.
And for those who find face sitting a little too ~exposed~, there’s the standing tongue swirl.
The recipient stands with feet hips-width apart, facing the wall. Their partner assumes a kneeling position behind them, using their hands to spread the cheeks for easier access.
Tip: Prop a pillow under the giver’s knees for comfort.
Just ’cause you’re not feeling confident enough to receive oral does NOT mean that you can’t:
- perform oral on your partner
- experience pleasure while you do so
Find the intensity and pattern that brings you the most pleasure. Then kneel in front of your partner and suck/lick/kiss ’em.
Trust, the noises your boo makes while you do will be quite the confidence booster!
Don’t pick a position based on which one best hides the parts of yourself you don’t love.
“Pick one that allows you to show off the parts of yourself you do want your partner to see,” Tanner says.
(According to her, this reframing offers an empowering lens on why we might choose some sex positions over others.)
The mainstay: Missionary
Missionary isn’t just a great pick for hand sex. It also rocks for penetrative play!
Doing so can help the penetrator stimulate a different part of the receiver’s vagina or anus. Prostate orgasm, anyone?
If eye contact does the opposite of help you feel yourself, Tanner says you might lean into your kinky side and incorporate a blindfold into your play.
“Some pleasure seekers find that assuming the ‘rider’ position in the reverse rider helps them stay present with their pleasure,” Tanner says.
Why? Because the position requires a decent bit of focus and work!
So, rather than being in their head about how they look, she says, most people are able to stay focused on the
Seated reverse rider
The benefit of seated reverse rider is that the receiver can feel the penetrator’s belly and legs pressed against their own back and legs.
“The increased skin-to-skin contact can encourage the release of oxytocin, which is a feel-good hormone that can help fight against feelings of inferiority,” White says.
It’s also less demanding on the receiver’s legs, glutes, and core. Phew.
“If you’re someone who tends to focus on your performance or your partner’s pleasure over your own, a position in which you’re facing away from a partner may give you the space to be more mindful about what your body is experiencing,” Tanner says.
Like spooning sex.
Here, you’ll assume the spooning cuddle position with the penetrating partner positioned behind the receiver.
Stop and renegotiate what position you’re going to try!
“There’s no benefit in the long- or short-term to sticking to a position that isn’t serving you, your pleasure, or your confidence,” White says.
Some ways to bring that up:
- “This felt really good at the beginning, but do you mind if we stop and try a different position instead?”
- “I normally love receiving head from you, but today I’m feeling self-conscious about the way I taste. Can we switch to hand sex instead?”
- “Baby, can we pause for a second? I’m feeling self-conscious about my body right now and just want to be held.”
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.