I had an email a while back from an anonymous dude who felt jealous about his girlfriend’s sexual history. He had a much lesser sexual history than her and he was feeling really insecure in the bedroom and jealous of their past.
So he says “I think the reason her sexual past bothers me so much is because I feel insecure about if I’m good enough sexually for her. She’s the third person I’ve ever slept with, whilst hers are way in the twenties. She tells me I’m the best she has had because I’m romantic, while they just did their thing and left. I’m very insecure if I’m good enough or big enough for her. I love this woman so much but it does eat at me sometimes. What else can I do Dan? All her past people she slept with are also creeping back into everything and I can’t think straight.”
Welcome back to jealousy!
We all get it, don’t we? And this one is quite a specific one for straight men with women – the idea that we’re being compared to former lovers and that this is a threat to us.
I remember actually being with a girl once who was worried that she wasn’t experienced enough for me, and I have to assume that this problem goes both ways.
I’ve already looked at sexual jealousy, so when I look at this from a different approach today the bigger issue: the pressure is internal.
I had a conversation with a client last night: he’s sexually inexperienced, he’s a virgin, and he’s about to spend a weekend with a girl, and they are going to sleep together – it’s pretty much on the cards and he’s very nervous about it. He’s very nervous about his performance.
He’s done a lot of work to get here and he’s worried about not being able to follow through. What’s interesting about the situation is that because of the work that we’re doing together he’s learned to be very honest and open, and this girl knows all about his insecurities, his lack of experience, his potential performance problems, and she’s very clearly and directly said that it’s not an issue for her.
She doesn’t care if they end up just cuddling, she just wants to spend time with him. She has put no pressure on him to perform whatsoever, and yet he feels all that pressure, and I can see parallels with this case too.
The guy who’s written into me here says “I’m worried about not being good enough…” and she’s quite clearly said “You’re the best, I don’t want anyone else, you’re better than the rest cuz you’re romantic.” And he’s worried about all these things that she hasn’t even raised.
This is common
This situation I see happen a lot, where all the evidence externally points to the fact that you are accepted as you are, you are good enough as you are in the eyes the other person – not that that matters but that’s there – and yet you still feel no acceptance, you still feel pressure and performance anxiety and lack of acceptance for yourself – not good enough.
So that tells you the problem is internal. See this guy who’s written in, his issue is he’s looking at her for the solution but it’s got nothing to do with her. She’s fine; her sexual history has no impact – from what she says – on her view of him, so this is all in his head.
It’s all in your head
And this is so often the case for us. We’re so worried about not being good enough that we try to solve the problem externally, when that problem isn’t even a problem – we are accepted externally, we’re good enough to the outside world. It’s us who thinks we’re not good enough.
So the question isn’t “How do I make her like me more?” The question is “Why don’t you accept yourself?” It’s got nothing to do with her. She’s fine.
What are you so worried about yourself? What do you think is wrong with you? What are you telling you is not good enough?
My guess would be you say that you’ve “got pressure to perform well, because that would keep her interested and that would make you a man.”
I’d say that’s probably the narrative going on inside your head in this kind of example – that if you aren’t sexually experienced then you’re somehow less of a man. Even though she clearly doesn’t think that or care about that.
This is about what you think a man is
Now perhaps you have a different reason for having this insecurity, but the point is it’s inside you, so the acceptance isn’t going to come from here – it must come from you.
What is it about yourself that you refuse to accept?
Now, in terms of what to do about the situation, acceptance is about letting go. It’s about letting go and it’s about respect. I think the simplest thing to do is give yourself permission.
When I used to kind of struggle with performance issues in the bedroom due to anxiety, what I found solved the problem was actually giving myself permission to not perform. It was remarkable!
I had so much pressure on myself to do well in the bedroom that when I took the pressure off and said you know “I don’t have to do well… I don’t have to perform at all”
I don’t have to hide that I’m struggling to perform. There is no obligation on me to achieve in any way whatsoever.
And as soon as I took that pressure off, I was able to perform!
What are you not giving yourself permission to do? Are you not giving yourself permission to be inexperienced? Are you not giving yourself permission to be nervous? Are you not giving yourself permission to be jealous?
Fighting against these things makes them worse, not better.
If you just give yourself permission to be insecure, to not perform to the standard that you’ve made up inside your head, to just not be “the man” – give yourself permission to not be “the man” – you’ll get closer to acceptance. You’ll probably see that there isn’t actually a problem here at all; it’s all in your head.
The other thing is, of course you can give yourself permission but you have to earn respect from yourself, don’t you? You don’t get it free. This ‘accepting yourself the way you are’ I don’t buy that.
You accept yourself the way you are when you live by your values as best you can, that’s how you live by… that’s how you gain acceptance.
So where are you not living by your values in this situation?
I see you fretting and worrying, you’re probably being jealous, possessive, there’s probably behaviors that you’re doing here that you’re not proud of. Change those behaviors.
Rather than trying to be a man in terms of an external performance, try to be the man internally, where you’re proud of the way you act, not what you get, and not how well you perform, but the way you act.
Now if you’re interested in learning more about your values, send your questions to Ask Dan Anything – I have a course that I’ve designed online that can help you figure out what your values are and how to live by them. And if you get in touch with me and reference this post, I’ll let you use the course for free.
But the main point I want to make: give yourself permission to be unacceptable – that’s the key to acceptance, and it’s got nothing to do with her.