"The New Definition of Sexy"
An undeniably appealing word, "sexy" conjures up different things for different people. In fact, that's part of its charm. Each of us has our own internal script that determines what we find sexy and desirable, although confidence, humor, and strength of character are pretty sexy in just about any context.
Abandoning the old definition
There used to be a time when only "bad" girls were sexy. Mothers, wives, and "nice" girls weren't supposed to crave sex or have sexual fantasies. They weren't encouraged to be seductive or confident in their sexual prowess. Only "whores" were wild in bed or liked trying new things in the bedroom. Men even sometimes encouraged these stereotypes by treating their wives like modern day Madonnas, while having their sexual needs met by girlfriends they kept on the side. After all, men reasoned, the mother of their children deserved to be respected and honored, not to be ravished like a sexual being. Thus, for a long time, these two concepts were mutually exclusive.
This means that there has historically been a lot of damaging language and imagery around the definition of a sexy woman. Many women still struggle with these stereotypes, at least emotionally, no matter how much they know intellectually that "nice" girls can be sexy, too. The idea of putting themselves out there sexually, asking for what they want in the bedroom, and feeling entitled and empowered by their sexuality feels out of their comfort zone, even though a part of them really wants to take control and embrace this special, significant piece of being a woman.
Becoming confident in your sexuality
This is where your confidence can come in. Women don't have to choose between sexual pleasure and motherhood, or between being a "nice" girl and enjoying sex. Yes, our bodies were built to sustain and nurture life, from pregnancy onward. But our bodies were also built to enjoy sex—in fact, the clitoris has no other physical function beyond giving pleasure. Clearly, we are meant to appreciate sex and embrace our sexuality, and more and more women are doing this everyday. Many women now realize that their sexual pleasure is just as important as their partner's sexual pleasure, and they aren't in the dark about how to achieve orgasm or how to improve their sex lives.
Working with as many couples and men as I have, it's become quite clear to me that what most engages a man sexually is a partner who is into the sexual act, and is uninhibited and sexually confident. This may seem like a tall order if you are one of the large number of women who grew up learning that sex is wrong or dirty. You may imagine that you'd make a fool of yourself if you tried to talk dirty or prance around in a sexy bustier. But if you try it, you'll realize that it's not as hard as it sounds. Your partner doesn't expect to see a professional stripper in front of him. It's okay not to be perfect. What matters is that you are engaged and having fun.
Dealing with social pressures
Now, what's not sexy? I can sum this up in one word: desperation. Even in today's modern society, plenty of women still feel pressure to find a man and settle down. Our language gives a good indication of why: when older men are single they are "bachelors," but women are still called degrading "spinsters" or "old maids." It's no wonder so many women feel pressured to find Mr. Right.
However, all of this pressure can lead to dangerous desperation. Men are simply not turned on by the scent of desperation. Additionally, when you operate out of fear, as you do when you are under pressure, you might settle for someone who doesn't meet your needs. In order to get and grow the love you want, you have to be okay with you are, even when—or especially when—you are alone.
The Hot Mama
If you are a mother, raising your kids is one of the most important jobs you will ever do. But remember, that is just one piece of you. You are also a sexual being, an erotic woman, and the vixen of your partner's dreams! Don't ditch your sexy side for motherhood—let motherhood enrich you, rather than limit you. Your partner will thank you.
Maintain your interests: Make the transition from mother to lover easier by holding on to your former self. If you make time for friends and hobbies that were part of your life before you had kids, you will be more likely to avoid getting stuck in just one role.
Take time for yourself: I've said it before, but I cannot say it enough! Taking time alone to refresh and rejuvenate is crucial to your well-being, and allows you to more easily make the jump to a sexy mindset.
Fantasize: It might be difficult at first, but spend some time thinking about what turns you on. The more you think sexy thoughts, the more you will feel like a sexy, desirable woman. That's a promise.
Remember, you're a teacher: Your kids need to learn that sex in the right context is good. If you value sex in a healthy context and respect your body, they will be more likely to do the same.
Read more from Dr. Berman's new book, It's Not Him, It's You.
Printed from Oprah.com on Saturday, March 8, 2014
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