“Just about every study I have done relying on Google searches made me feel worse about the world… But after studying the new data on sex, I actually feel better. This data makes me feel less lonely… Men and women are united in this (sexual) insecurity and confusion…Google also gives us legitimate reasons to worry less than we do. Many of our deepest fears about how our sexual partners perceive us are unjustified.” –Seth Stephens-Davidowitz
Sex has long been associated with self-recrimination or worse. There might not be another aspect of our humanity that brings up more confusion, loneliness or self-condemnation than trying to make peace with our sexual nature. Well now, through the analysis of huge swaths of Google data, it is confirmed that we are united not only in our anxiety and insecurity about our sexuality, but also and maybe more importantly in our collective desire to seek out and enjoy our sexuality.
One of the most popular columns I ever wrote was about penis size and the fact that so many men are insecure about their own. Mostly, the column just reported the facts about the averages of penis size and the overwhelming sense of inadequacy many men felt in comparison to the pornographic models that pervade the internet. It turns out that my column was so popular because this concern tops the charts in a recent analysis of Google data of the most frequently asked question by men. The writer who collected this big data set about this and other sexual concerns revealed what many of us have suspected about our own sex lives; which is that it is driven or perhaps more accurately, curtailed by our obsessive insecurity about ourselves.
Overwhelmingly, the data showed how both men and women fixate on specific body parts as though having or attaining just the right proportions of a penis or a butt is the answer that would finally resolve their sexual conundrum in life. Not surprisingly, according to this same data analysis, our skewed perceptions about our bodies also impact our perception of how much sex we are actually having. Our misconceptions about our own desirability impact not only our own desire, but also the ways we interpret our partner’s desire or lack of it.
Interestingly, looking at the data set from the partner’s perspective shows that our deepest and persistent insecurities about ourselves are generally not shared by our partners. Rather, it is our obsessive internal rumination, which separates us from the thing we want most with the people we most want to share it. Instead, it is the baggage that we ourselves bring to our intimate lives that keeps us from the pleasure and satisfaction that our bodies, just as they are, can manifest.
Our inability to re-think about ourselves results in the second largest data set that they uncovered, which reflects the overwhelming number of us living in sexless relationships. These are mired in the painful rejection of our partners not wanting to have sex with us, caught in our own cycles of rejecting the people we aspire to love. And yet, for many people, this connection between the negative ruminating we do about ourselves and the ways we both reject and withdraw from our sex lives is often not made. We give up our capacity for sexual pleasure to our insecurity about ourselves without even knowing it.
So this year, let’s intend to give ourselves and each other a break. Let’s work to give up our ruminating, destructive thoughts about our own body and focus instead on its capacity to give and receive pleasure. Let’s practice being more forgiving about other people’s bodies too. Our orgasmic potential is more dependent on our ability to free our brain from anxiety than it is to gain or lose an inch here or there. Replacing our insecurities with curiosity is a good place to start. Stop thinking and practice feeling more into the myriad sensations that your body is capable of. Decide to turn your attention to what makes you perfectly loveable exactly as you are and then become more loving. It will definitely improve your perception of how much sex you are having.