Reality Bites Back

It's not enough that sex with a new person brings up that fear of the unknown for most of us, plus all those other anxieties, cultural and primal, that we've just discussed. We also have popular culture standing at the bedroom door, feeding us notions of how we "should" look, feel, and behave. In the movies (well, at least the mainstream flicks), the act of lovemaking is always perfect, devoid of any awkwardness. The lighting is just right, and there's usually lovely music playing in the background to add that erotic ambiance. Safe sex is never an issue, and nobody ever seems to suffer from nervousness, shaky self-confidence, or a negative body image. You don't see men contemplating their penises and wondering if they're big enough, nor do you see women fretting over the cellulite on their thighs. That just wouldn't sell at the box office.

In our minds, we know those perfect little lovemaking scenes in the movies aren't real. We realize they're the product of hours of rehearsing, who-knows-how-many takes, and careful editing. And we may even accept with good grace the fact that most of us don't look like Julia Roberts or Brad Pitt (who still wouldn't look as good as they do if not for the skill of the makeup artists and lighting technicians). Yet at some level, most of us are influenced by the cinema's false representations, as well as the thousands of other images presented by TV and the print media. We can tell ourselves these images are merely the product of our youth-oriented, performance-obsessed culture, that they're the creations of shrewd marketers and have little bearing on the everyday lives of real people. But that doesn't stop many of us from feeling an undercurrent of anxiety about not measuring up.

I hope this chapter, and many of the previous chapters in this book, have helped put some of these issues in perspective for you. The truth is that we all have fears and anxieties about sex. I'd be willing to bet that virtually all of those actors and actresses and models we idolize have these fears too, offcamera.

As for measuring up, this is a concept that has no place in a delicious seduction scenario. It won't even be a concern if you place your focus on your partner instead of on some standard that has no bearing in reality. The formula is really quite simple: If you pay attention to details, you will learn what turns your partner on. Knowing that, you can easily set a seduction scene geared to please him or her—soft lighting, sensual surroundings, his or her favorite jazz musician on the CD player (we'll have more tips on setting the scene in later chapters). In short, a lot of focus, a little imagination, and a desire to please will make you a hit with your partner, and you won't even need a crew of technicians and make-up artists.

Continue reading here: The First Three Times Dont Count

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