Why Lesbians Often Struggle With Sex (It’s Not Your Fault!)
Lesbian sexuality is beautiful and powerful.
Unfortunately, women loving women don’t hear that message nearly often enough. So let me say it again. Lesbian sexuality is beautiful and powerful.
Yet most of us need support in experiencing that power. Here are five reasons why you may struggle to receive genuine pleasure in your sex life. (Hint: these have nothing to do with having anything physically wrong with you, or with being too old, too inexperienced, too fat, too thin, or anything else about your body.)
As my friend Arielle Brown says, “Pleasure is an inside game.” But often we stay outside of ourselves when we’re trying to have it—for the reasons below.
Shame, pressure, and self-judgment get in the way.
Five reasons you may struggle to receive genuine pleasure in your sex life:
1. You were never taught that it was okay to enjoy yourself sexually as a lesbian++ or queer person. In fact, most likely you were taught the opposite! Even though you may have reached a point where you don’t cognitively believe there is anything wrong with sexuality in general or your sexuality in particular, shame lives in your body and can be easily awakened—or can keep your pleasure asleep. Plus, if you were ever sexually abused, that adds more layers of shame.
2. You’re judging yourself during sex, or even when you think about sex. You’re afraid there’s something wrong with your body, your responses, your level of pleasure, or how you touch. This keeps you in your head, and then you judge yourself for that, too.
3. You’re worried about not being able to pleasure your partner. If you haven’t been with a lot of women, you think that’s because you’re inexperienced. If you have been with a lot of women, you think there’s something wrong with you for still lacking confidence. Either way, it shuts you down.
4. You’re moving too quickly into “sexual” touch, before your breasts or genitals really feel ready—and then you’re putting pressure on yourself and judging yourself (see a theme here?). You feel disconnected from yourself and from your partner, which makes sex feel mechanical or like an obligation. And then you feel bad about that, and your partner might, too—which just complicates the matter further. So maybe you fake it. Yes, lesbians do that, too, and it’s understandable. But the sad part is, faking it just makes actual pleasure recede even further.
5.The dynamics that play out in your sexual fantasies aren’t what you want in real life, or what you think is okay to want. Or, maybe you don’t even let yourself fantasize. Either you don’t know your erotic self all that well, or you’ve glimpsed it and felt uncomfortable. We all carry around so many ideas about what is okay versus taboo. Often, things we consider taboo carry extra charge! But shame can easily shut us down.
Why Reclaiming Our Sexual Pleasure Matters
All or some of these five factors affect most of us. But liberation is available. It’s never too late (or too early). You can learn to embrace your unique sexuality on deeper levels, and access more erotic pleasure, freedom, and ease. There are a few intelligent, compassionate sex ed resources for lesbians and queer women.
Erotic pleasure matters. As our brilliant foremother Audre Lorde said, “Erotic energy is life energy.” When we are in touch with our deepest sources of pleasure and power, our whole lives change for the better.
It’s also likely that the power of Eros is a big part of what led you to come out as lesbian or queer to begin with. For many people, that means that the power of Eros led you to move mountains in your life—to do what otherwise would have felt too terrifying to even contemplate. That’s a power to behold! And to strive to better understand. And to honor—especially in a homophobic world that dishonors us. Because, as the visionary rabbi Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?…If not now, when?”
Classes can help, but many lesbians and queer women also need sex coaching to undo the effects of a sex-shaming and a misogynistic and homophobic world. I went through three years of training as a sex and intimacy coach, and even though I had thought I was open-minded and sex-positive to begin with, it’s amazing how much my world changed. I feel so much more comfortable now with both my own sexual quirks and needs, and those of my partners.
That’s why I’m on a mission now to let lesbians and queer women know that our sexual challenges are completely normal and understandable, and there is help available to change them.