Well, what is performative sex?
Performative sex is the focus on sexual acts as a performance instead of having sex in a pleasure-focused way.
It's when we engage in sexual behavior specifically to benefit our partner while having little to no connection to our own bodies.
Vulva-owners are especially affected.
According to sex therapist Dr. Laurie Mintz, performative sex is hands-down the number one thing she sees among vulva-owning clients.
She says, "Many of the women I work with are thinking, I hope I look like this or I hope he likes this. It can happen when we receive, too. We may think, is he really enjoying this? Or stress out about how our vaginas are perceived."
I love this quote by Amanda Kohr, a journalist from Repeller:
"We're taught to satisfy the needs of others even if it means sacrificing our own. We care about looking good during sex because we aim to please, and we aim to please because we're told that's what makes us valuable."
So, what do you do if you're having performative sex?
There are a few things you can do to try to shift from performative to pleasure-focused sex:
1. Practice Mindfulness.
According to Dr. Laurie Mintz, "The antidote to being externally focused is to be internally focused."
2. Shift away from goal-oriented sex.
Instead of focusing on penetrative sex that ends when one partner orgasms, try removing the goal and focusing on feelings of mutual pleasure instead.
3. Acknowledge your right to pleasure.
Reflect on your beliefs and question what myths and social scripts you've internalized.