Ladies, this is your official PSA to stop worrying about your performance between the sheets—a science-backed PSA, in fact. A new study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior found that women who think their man expects perfection in bed may have so much performance anxiety that they don’t have any fun during sex. Not coincidentally, these women also reported having a negative self-image. (Body-love inspo: These Women Show Why the #LoveMyShape Movement Is So Freakin’ Empowering.)
Researchers from the University of Kent asked 366 women about their feelings on various facets of sexuality. Specifically, researchers zeroed in on specific types of sexual perfectionism, categorizing it into four types: 1) self-oriented, the standards people impose on themselves; 2) partner-oriented, the expectations people have for their partners; 3) partner-prescribed, the expectations people’s partners have on them; 4) socially prescribed, the cultural standards people think they’re supposed to meet.
Those who aligned themselves with feelings of self-oriented perfectionism, or those who felt pressure from themselves to be better in bed, had greater desire and arousal as well as higher self-esteem. In contrast, those who felt pressured by their partner or society reported lower self-esteem. They also reported less sexual satisfaction and arousal. (Psst…Here’s How to Get More Enjoyment Out Of Common Sex Positions.)
“It is possible that believing that one’s sexual partner expects sex to be perfect leads to sexual performance anxiety which may then have a negative effect on a women’s sexual function, causing difficulties becoming aroused and lubricated during sexual encounters,” co-author Laura Harvey said in the study.
Translation: Stop stressing about what your partner thinks during sex, and focus on your own enjoyment. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy: More confidence means better sex—for both you and your partner.