A relationship expert can draw inspiration from almost anywhere, including the local grocery store. In fact, it was a recent trip to the market that got me thinking about sex appeal and the various ways a person can feel sexy. As I rounded the corner from aisle to the next, I saw a woman who turned my head — and countless others, I’m sure. She appeared to be about 60 years old, wore a tight-fitting blouse and tight black jeans that hugged her narrow waist. But that’s not all: She also wore five-or six-inch wedge heels, had her hair blown out in dramatic curls that fell down her back, and walked with an I-look-good attitude that was impossible to overlook. I’ve often seen such types around and heard others make snide comments about the way they dress. I’m sure you’ve heard similar comments: “Why is so-and-so trying so hard to look like a teenager?” When I hear such snide comments, I cringe, and I’ll tell you why.
As a therapist, one of the common threads I see in men and women who seek out therapy is the difficulty feeling good about themselves because their inner voice is often so critical. It’s my job to help boost their ego and bring some perspective, and I talk until I’m blue in the face about doing what makes you feel good as opposed to catering to what others think about you. I always say, “Unless we’re talking about someone you know and care about, who really cares what anybody thinks?”
The woman I saw at the grocery store, I guarantee you, feels good about herself. I could also tell that she was a woman who feels sexy, and wears her sex appeal proudly. As I witnessed such pronounced sexual self-confidence in action, I wondered about her life and what allows her to feel sexy. Is she in a relationship in which she regularly has sex? Does her partner routinely tell her she’s sexy? These thoughts caused me to consider a broader question that relates to sexuality: What if you’re not having sex? Is it possible to still feel sexy, or do you need to have sex in order to feel sexually attractive?
The truth is that people feel sexy because they get some form of reinforcement for their appeal. They don’t need to be having sex, but a person who feels sexy has received feedback from others that they are sexy, which reinforces and maintains the feeling of being sexy and sexually attractive.
How many men and women would say that they feel sexy? The number, I imagine, is quite low. To find out, I researched the issue. A 2011 study, for example, by the company Superdrug surveyed 2,000 women and found that only 7% of women reported feeling sexy every day. That’s a small number. Keep in mind that research on such subjective experiences – feeling sexy, in this case – is fraught with extraneous variables, meaning that it’s difficult to get a truly accurate measure. Still, we can assume that the number of women who feel sexy is low.
How about men? If you’re wondering about how many men feel sexy, I can tell you anecdotally that the male clients I’ve seen over the years feel sexier than the women do because the women are often so critical of themselves.
Ultimately, feeling sexy is important because it means that you’re connected to your sexuality and have positive self-esteem about your appearance and ability to connect with others. Though you don’t have to have sex to feel sexy, you do need to engage in behaviors that appeal to others in order to get the feedback you need to feel sexy. For some, like the woman I saw at the grocery store, she relied on conventional and predictable methods to elicit sexual feedback from others: style of dress and a pronounced swagger as she moved. But there are other ways to behave in a manner that will elicit the kind of feedback you need to feel sexy: being physically affectionate, using the range of tones you have in your voice, and making and holding good eye contact.
Everyone would be lucky to feel sexy every single day, but that is both an unrealistic and unnecessary expectation to set for yourself. So, do this: Ask yourself if you feel sexy. If your answer is “no,” come up with three new behaviors you will do to improve your sexual self-confidence.
Examples include exercising, dancing, taking good care of your skin, wearing clothing that reflects the best features of your body, looking at your body naked a few times each week, initiating conversation with others and allowing yourself to flirt lightly, and appealing to your senses by trying new foods, lighting candles, and taking warm baths. It will take work at first to increase your sense of sexiness, but soon it will became second nature once you start getting the kind of feedback that boosts self-esteem.
Learn more about Dr. Seth and his book, Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Find the Love You Deserve .
What makes you feel sexy?