I meet a lot of perfectionists in my line of work. Perhaps there is an unusually high correlation between perfectionism and sexual hang-ups.
Perfectionists do not like mistakes. They like to be correct all the time. There is no tolerance for error in a perfectionist’s world.
However, this is a problem in sexual relationship because good sex takes practice. Inherent in the concept of practice is the understanding that there is room to make mistakes. When you are “practicing”, mistakes are acceptable, permissible and even expected.
I have noticed that when perfectionists become extremely fearful of making mistakes, they give up all together. Perhaps they try a few times, realize that they are not living up to their own internal standards and then they give up. The worst culprits give up without even trying. They are terrified of mediocre and so they twist the old adage of “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well” to justify their inaction. And in doing so, they completely miss the value of battling through the awkward learning stage.
To combat the threat of perfectionism in our own household, I have a saying that I give to my young daughter, “We learn more from our failures than our successes.” Our failures are not just a vivid reminder that we are not perfect (which, as it turns out, is really ok); they also give us valuable clues as to the areas we need to adjust, change and grow in our lives so that we can be successful.
People who can grab onto this concept are high achievers. Like perfectionists, high achievers have very high standards of what they want to accomplish in their lives. But unlike perfectionists, they embrace mistakes and failures as part of the normal learning process they must endure to get to greatness. They elicit and heed feedback because they can use the information to move past the awkward learning stage onto the skilled phase.
I met a high achiever this weekend at one of my Passion Salons. This woman shared that she had wanted to become better at oral sex. Now, I have met many women who realized they were not good at oral sex and so they just gave up. Instead, this woman asked her husband for feedback. What do you like? Is this working? What can I do to get better?
Unfortunately, her husband wasn’t particularly skilled at giving her the feedback she needed. Maybe he was embarrassed, maybe he preoccupied in the moment or perhaps he didn’t know the answer to her question! However, she wanted more information, so she rented a “how to” video and practiced her new learnings on her husband. He was thrilled. And when I met her, she had a confidence that emanated from her.
Here is a suggestion for you: try some “practice sex”. Set aside time when the two of you agree that you are going to practice something that you are not good at but you want to become more skilled. Allow for mistakes and mediocre sex during this time with a view that you need to go through the awkward to get to great. Let go of your need to be right, or perfect or flawless. Enjoy each other and the process and you’ll find that you really start to enjoy each other and the process!!