What is the Good Girl Syndrome?
The Good Girl Syndrome is the negative or unproductive thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors and feelings about sex that inhibit one’s responsiveness and enjoyment of the sexual relationship in marriage.
The Good Girl Syndrome is often manifest as feelings of shame, guilt, embarrassment, or discomfort about sex. Misinformation, distorted information, negative information and a lack of positive education about sex and the body result not only in the previously mentioned emotions, but also in an inhibited sexual response.
This negative conditioning, and the lack of sexual knowledge or promotion of marital sexuality may be the great, underlying and oft-ignored source of sexual dissatisfaction in many marriages.
“Good Girl” Must be Redefined
Being a “good girl” is a great thing, but the problem is that the definition of a “good girl” must be changed to include embracing and enjoying the sexual relationship in marriage. This may take a huge cultural shift in order for women to break free of the chains that bind them.
The message has always been that “good girls don’t.” But the message needs to be changed to “in marriage, good girls DO!”
Sources of the Good Girl Syndrome
So, where does this Good Girl Syndrome come from? There are primarily three sources–parents, church and society.
Parents who are embarrassed or uncomfortable with sex, and even their own sexual relationship, have a hard time communicating to their kids about sex in a way that is positive and affirming and even accurate.
Churches put their focus on helping kids avoid sex outside of marriage, which is great, but unfortunately they don’t always couple that with positive and affirming statements about the goodness of sex within marriage.
Society, well, our society is a mess sexually–especially when you consider the effects of our hyper-sexualized culture, pornography, and media portrayals of love and sexuality, etc.–then you can see how it is easy for any of us to develop some messed up views of sex and the sexual relationship in marriage.
Experiencing the Good Girl Syndrome
One woman shared her experience with the Good Girl Syndrome as follows:
The “Good Girl Syndrome” must affect millions of women, even those that don’t consider themselves “good girls.” I was especially happy and relieved to read one simple statement that opened doors for me. GOD APPROVES OF SEX and (here is the crucial point) WANTS YOU TO ENJOY IT!
Logic has always told me that God approves of sex. It’s how we make babies, it’s what draws men and women together. Adam and Eve had sex or no one would be here today to worry about it! But for most of my adult life what I reasoned was that it is ‘OK’ to ‘let’ your husband have intercourse with you. But wanting to be kissed and touched or becoming aroused myself was something I was ashamed to express.
During the times I got turned on and found enjoyment in sex it was barely over when I would begin to wonder if God was disappointed in my behavior. I can’t over emphasize how much that simple statement, WANTS YOU TO ENJOY IT, makes the point of your book come alive for me.
Self-Assessment of The Good Girl Syndrome
On a scale of zero (none) to ten (a lot) rate the effect of each aspect of the Good Girl Syndrome in your life. An honest, indepth assessment can help you become more aware of any negative conditioning you may have internalized about sex, and help you to see areas that need to be addressed in order for you to fully enjoy the godly gift of sexual intimacy in marriage:
“0” None (not true for you) ………. “10” A lot (very true for you)
- 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Underlying belief that sex is bad, wrong, dirty or sinful
- 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Inappropriate inhibitions, guilt, shame or awkwardness associated with sexual relations within marriage
- 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Discomfort, embarrassment or inability to appropriately discuss sexual matters
- 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Discomfort or distaste with sexual parts of the body and body functioning
- 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Lack of understanding of the divine purposes of sex—such as that God intended sex for pleasure, as well as for procreation
- 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Sexual expressions of love are a low priority
- 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Inability to relax and let go within the sexual experience
- 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Lack of genuine enjoyment of sexual relations—participation out of duty
- 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Lack of sexual understanding and “know-how”
- 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 An inhibited sexual response due to any of the above
The Good Girl Syndrome Assessment scores can range from 0 to 100. Where are you in that range? What areas might you want to work on to improve your intimate relationship?
Steps to Overcome the Good Girl Syndrome
Here are a few helps for overcoming the Good Girl Syndrome. Be sure to also review the information and homework at the end of each chapter (especially chapters 1, 2, and 7) in the book And They Were Not Ashamed for a more thorough discussion of overcoming the Good Girl Syndrome.
- Identify the “mental weeds” (thoughts, beliefs) that get in the way of fully responding to and embracing sexuality. It may be easiest to do this in writing.
- Plant “mental flowers” (positive thoughts and beliefs) in place of the mental weeds. Feed your mind positive, affirming statements about sex, in general, your sexuality, and the sexual relationship in your marriage.
- Spend time praying, pondering or meditating upon positive aspects of your husband, his body, your body and lovemaking itself. Savor and nurture sexual thoughts and feelings toward your spouse.
- Relearn the pleasure and enjoyment of touch and affection (with no strings attached).
- Get educated sexually (you can start by reading And They Were Not Ashamed : )
- Nurture playfulness inside and outside the bedroom.
- Learn to discuss sex more openly and honestly with your spouse. Practice until it’s easier.
Positive Affirmations about Sex
It can be helpful to have some suggested affirmations for reprogramming one’s mind regarding sex. It’s especially valuable if you can create some of your own, but here’s a few to get you started:
- Sex is good.
- Sex is healthy and wholesome within marriage.
- I thoroughly enjoy the whole experience of lovemaking.
- I feel whole and more alive when I am sexually intimate with my spouse.
- I am grateful for my body–all parts of it. I love my spouse’s body–all parts of it.
- Fully engaging myself sexually is an empowering experience for me.
- I thoroughly embrace my sexuality and enjoy its full expression with my spouse.
- Lovemaking is a natural and healthy part of a strong and intimate marital relationship.
- It is easy and natural for my spouse and me to discuss our sexual desires and preferences. We comfortably and confidently talk with our children about this important subject as well.
- Sexual interactions are some of my favorite ways to express my love to my mate.
- Our sexual/intimate relationship is mutually satisfying.
- Our sexual relationship is a high priority to me.
- I can feel my desire for my sweetheart increase in between our lovemaking opportunities.
- Sex is a wonderful means of nurturing and healing each other.
- I bask in the ecstasy of orgasm during our lovemaking.
For a more thorough discussion of the Good Girl Syndrome read Chapter 1 of the book And They Were Not Ashamed–Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment.