Sexual Self-Confidence

Couple foreplayWondering about the discrepancy between the many women who dress provocatively in public and the many wives who struggle to share themselves freely with their spouses in the bedroom, one husband asked, “Does it take more confidence for a woman to dress revealingly in public, or to dress revealingly in her bedroom for her husband?”

What do you think?

The Bait and Switch

This question reminds me of the many men who feel that their wives were very passionate and affectionate before marriage then found that that didn’t translate into their marriage relationship. One husband even called it a “bait and switch.”

It’s my contention that women don’t mean to do this on purpose. They are simply poorly prepared for a healthy sexual relationship in marriage and often don’t understand the message and consequences of their flirty behavior.

It’s one thing for a woman to seem like “a tease” prior to marriage (though I don’t think most women mean to, at least consciously). It’s something completely different for them to be prepared to follow through on that tease within marriage!

It’s all about a healthy sense of self and one’s sexuality. This is not something that is generally taught, modeled or developed in young women (or men). Thus we can see some of the roots of sexual frustration in marriage.

What Is Sexual Self-Confidence?

Sexual self-confidence is the self-assurance and God-assurance, even, that one is loved and acceptable to one’s self and to God. This is coupled with sexual knowledge and application within marriage. Feeling sexy means you like and accept yourself–complete with flaws and imperfections–and embrace your sexuality. Being at peace with oneself is key to unlocking one’s sexual potential in marriage.

In my opinion, it does take more confidence and a stronger self-image to dress provocatively in front on one’s husband than it does to dress provocatively in public. Think about it.

To dress immodestly in public is fairly easy. You get lots of attention for being “eye candy,” without having to “do” anything to follow through with the consequences of your appearance. It’s the tease without any follow-through.

To dress revealingly for one’s husband requires a willingness or ability to go where that might lead! To dress provocatively in the “bedroom” generally means that the clothing is ultimately going to come off. This creates a whole bunch of issues for many women.

Self-image, body image, feelings about one’s spouse and sex in general all become significant factors. It’s a terribly vulnerable and anxiety-causing endeavor. Thus it takes much more self-assurance to dress alluringly for one’s husband than it does to do so in public. It also takes being at peace with one’s body, one’s sexuality, and even one’s spouse.

Self-Confidence, Teenage Girls and Dress

These issues of self-image and self-confidence are also at play in why teenage girls dress immodestly. It’s one thing if young women have not been taught to respect their bodies and themselves, or have not been taught that modesty is a good idea. But it’s quite another when they have been taught these things and still dress provocatively.

It generally comes down to a lack or an emptiness within themselves, which makes the attention received too much for some to resist. When someone is lacking in self-assurance, then it’s easier to fall prey to compensating for it by dressing provocatively.

Dressing modestly as young girls, or as women, is part of what builds self-esteem, especially when it totally goes against societal norms, and often takes a lot of thought and effort to do so.

Dressing modestly invites others to interact with you as a whole person instead of relying on the distractions of overtly noticeable physical characteristics. Self-confidence is best built upon righteousness and a personal relationship with God, not attention to body parts. It’s a powerful confidence builder when we do things that are difficult, but right.

One of the best things we can do to discourage people from dressing inappropriately in public is to encourage them to work on their feelings of self-worth, rather than merely being another voice telling them to stop it. It would be similar to telling a hungry child to stop eating the cookies on the table to tell a woman to dress modestly if she is filling a void with the attention she receives.

Sexy is a State of Mind

How important is this sexual self-confidence for a wife? Let’s just say it’s the difference between a mediocre marriage and a passionate intimate relationship. Truly liking one’s self is the best aphrodisiac for a healthy and fulfilling sexual relationship.

Sexy is a state of mind. I like the statement, “I like who I am and I’m happy to share that with you!” If a woman, in particular, does not like herself inside and out, it is very difficult for her to share herself freely and fully with her husband.

Because a woman’s sexuality is primarily a product of her thoughts and beliefs about herself, her spouse, and sex in general, what goes on in a woman’s mind is of utmost importance. Having healthy, positive and productive thoughts, core beliefs, feelings, and attitudes form the foundation for true sexiness.

A sexy state of mind is a healthy and positive creation cultivated specifically for a mutually fulfilling and passionate marriage relationship. Beyond physical foreplay, the wise husband also pays careful attention to the psychological foreplay he engenders in his wife.

What Do Looks Have to Do with It?

Some have asked what one’s looks have to do with their sexual self-confidence. To be honest…the answer is NOTHING! Looks can be very deceiving.

I’ve worked with women who because of their appearance you would think would feel very sexy and enjoy sexual intimacy. They have all the supposed right “looks,” but they don’t really like themselves or their bodies (or their husbands, or sex itself). They find it very difficult to be or to feel sexy or to share themselves and their body with their spouse.

There are many other women who would not necessarily win a cover-girl contest, but who have developed their sexuality and their feelings about themselves, and their bodies, to the point of being very comfortable and even passionate within the sexual relationship. It’s not really about one’s looks, though it helps to at least feel like you are doing the best you can to take care of your physical body.

Make Sexual Self-Confidence a Priority

Making peace with one’s self and building a relationship with God are the keys to developing healthy self-confidence. Adding sexual knowledge and intimate learning with one’s spouse to that foundation, sexual self-confidence is created.

It’s not widely promoted for women to develop their sexual self-confidence, but it is being promoted here for the benefit of building many stronger and more intimate marriage relationships. The benefits are many! Just think of the positive and lasting legacy you will pass on to your children, in addition to the pleasurable benefits you’ll receive for yourself and your spouse!

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  • Concerned April 30, 2008 at 10:16 am

    I enjoyed this article about public and private sexuality. I’m very concerned with the cultural shift that is taking place in the female gender. It used to be it was men who were the naughty, nasty, provocative ones. They did the crude jokes, gestures, graffiti, etc. (Example: Elvis Presley) Today, it’s females who sexually present themselves in provocative ways in public, internet, fashion, dress, etc.

    I’m appalled at the general, casual way females display themselves on You Tube and My Space by themselves. Women used to be the paradigm of virtue and they held the moral high ground. Today a shift has taken place. Look what has happened to Britney Spears and Hannah Montana for example. Both started out as role models for girls and ended up succumbing to sexual pressure to be naughty, provocative and tantalizing.

    I’m surprised the females in our society haven’t become morally outraged by the way their gender is being characterized. Women have always been looked to for the moral high ground and the taming influenced in our society. But today, few women speak out on the way they are currently being portrayed, be it cheerleaders, movie stars, etc. Young girls seem to think they’re role and expectation is to be sexually revealing and appealing. Why?

    There’s something wrong with what is going on. On a personal level,I feel very uncomfortable, even in church, when I greet or speak to many females. They leave very little to the imagination when you see how revealing they are in their dress, particularly their low neck lines.

    I don’t think male church leaders can fully speak to the issue – it will take the women leaders. There’s an attitude in society that goes something like this: “No man is going to tell me how to dress.”

    • Laura M. Brotherson April 30, 2008 at 10:21 am

      I think the root of the issue is that when women don’t feel good about themselves, or they feel that something is lacking in themselves or their lives, then the temptation to get the inevitable attention of the male species by dressing immodestly is too much to resist. It’s an immediate “fix” for one’s feelings of being “less than.” This is why, in my opinion, any attempts to “make” girls be modest that don’t address how they feel about themselves will be ineffective. It’s pretty fun for a girl to be looked at longingly by a man. Men have a hard time helping themselves to not “notice.” So the attention received by dressing revealingly is practically guaranteed. It’s really a vicious cycle.

  • Michael April 30, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Dressing revealingly in public.

    Your book is excellent and my wife and I both appreciate it very much. I’m a little confused with the article – “Which is harder for a woman, dressing revealingly in public or in front of her husband?” While not overtly encouraging dressing revealingly in public, the article doesn’t seem to do much to discourage it, either. You’re right that good self-esteem is the foundation of a great sexual relationship with one’s spouse. Isn’t that enhanced by dressing modestly in front of everyone but one’s spouse?

    • Laura M. Brotherson May 1, 2008 at 1:07 pm

      Dear Michael,

      I appreciate your comments. Just to be clear, part of what I was trying to do in the article was to identify why some girls dress immodestly. I think people don’t think about what an easy temptation it is to succumb to it. I definitely agree with you that dressing modestly is part of what builds self-esteem, especially when it totally goes against societal norms and often takes a lot of thought and effort to do so. Self-confidence is built upon righteousness and a personal relationship with God. It’s especially powerful when we do things that are difficult, but right. This is how we develop greater confidence in one’s self and in God.

      One of the best things I can do to discourage people from dressing inappropriately in public is to educate them on what it reveals about them, and encourage them to work on their feelings of self-worth rather than merely being another of many voices telling them to stop it. It would be similar to telling a hungry child to stop eating the cookies on the table.

      I do hope women and their daughters will think more about what they are wearing and the difficult situation in which they may be unknowingly putting men who unwittingly have to then deal with the consequences of their behavior.

  • coopers6 May 1, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    I am currently in counseling and was surprised to realize what low self esteem I have, and am actively working on it. I truly used to wear tight clothing to fulfill a loneliness I was facing in my marriage. Now that my marriage relationship is so much deeper, we’ve had a miracle happen in the last year, the compliments from my husband are all I need to feel good. As soon as I started dressing to the Lord’s standard I also realized I was relieved. I no longer watched for men to notice me. It made me feel better about myself and happier about my choices. You were right, “Confidence is built upon righteousness and a relationship with God.”

  • JL May 1, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    I agree with your article. It seems to be much easier for women to dress immodestly in public than to flirt with their husbands in private.

    There seems to be so much emphasis on keeping yourself pure before marriage and not as much emphasis on enjoying your sexual relationship with your spouse after marriage. I hope your book and website will help to change this.

  • UnderTheSun May 7, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    What a great article!

    “Making peace with one’s self and building a relationship with God are the keys to developing healthy self-confidence.”

    This is consistent with the theory I’ve been developing about my marriage as well.

    I only wish I knew what I could do to help my wife’s emotional and spiritual struggles which seem insurmountable…

  • klover June 9, 2008 at 10:33 am

    This comment and questions are related to dressing provocatively.

    The comment is: I enjoy wearing a men’s speedo style swimming suit over a traditional trunk style because of the improved support, less chaffing/rubbing, quicker drying – therefore less cold and fewer rashes, and less drag of water and entrapment of air.

    The question is: are men’s brief/speedo style swimming suits inmodest?, if they are inmodest, are women’s swimming suits that are next to their genitial also inmodest? Does our culture have a double standard? And, if women are not “visual” why would a men’s brief/speedo style swim suit matter?

    My wife is not sexually attracted by anything I wear.

  • Demond May 16, 2009 at 2:02 am

    I appreciate your article. I really like the part about making sexy a state of mind. As a man, I can be intimate at any time. What I’d like to do is make my wife feel sexy. I don’t think she feels sexy at all. I would like to help her with that. Although I’m sure I’m a major contributor to that. Things are getting better though.

    Thanks for the idea.

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