In today’s modern world, where we are constantly bombarded with images and messages about what constitutes a healthy and fulfilling sexual relationship. It is no wonder that many of us fall into the trap of Sexual Comparison Mode (SCM). SCM refers to the tendency to compare our own sexual experiences, performance, or physical appearance to those of others, most often our partner’s exes or past sexual partners. This often leads to feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction and, frankly, is quite a turn-off. This mode can be incredibly damaging to both our individual well-being and the health of our relationships.
Understanding Sexual Comparison Mode (SCM): The Mode That Is Turning Your Partner Off Sexually
Sexual Comparison Mode stems from a variety of sources, including societal pressures, media portrayal of idealized sexual situations, and personal insecurities. We live in a hypersexualized world where unrealistic standards are portrayed as the norm. This constant exposure to sexualized images and narratives can create a distorted perception of what is expected in a sexual relationship.
Many of us fall into SCM in an attempt to assess our own sexual prowess. We might compare our physical appearance, sexual techniques, or the frequency of our sexual encounters to those of others. This mode is often reinforced by social media platforms, where individuals tend to showcase their best moments, leading to feelings of inadequacy when our own experiences do not measure up to these seemingly perfect standards.
This mode particularly comes into play when comparing our sexual capabilities to that of our partner’s exes. Two things happen when we compare ourselves to our partner’s ex (or exes). First, we put pressure on ourselves during intimacy, making it hard to enjoy the moment. This can make climax difficult, if not impossible to reach, lowering our own sexual satisfaction. Secondly, it turns off our partner. While it is normal to ask the odd question or talk about exes with your partner, asking if you’re better in bed than they were does not put your partner in the mood. In fact, sex experts say it does quite the opposite.
“I’ve stumbled into Sexual Comparison Mode (SCM); a toxic practice most of us have been guilty of, involving comparing ourselves to a significant other’s past sexual partner,” explained sex expert Nadia Bokody. “It’s rooted in insecurity and an innate, albeit narcissistic, need to know we take the cake – that, as far as lovers go, we’re the best our bae has ever had.” (1)
The Harmful Effects of SCM on Relationships
Engaging in SCM can have detrimental effects on our relationships. Constantly comparing ourselves to others creates a sense of competition within the relationship, leading to feelings of insecurity and resentment. This mode can prevent us from fully appreciating and enjoying our own sexual experiences, as we are always striving for something better or feeling inadequate in comparison.
Furthermore, SCM places unnecessary pressure on our partners, making them feel judged or under constant evaluation. This can lead to decreased intimacy and emotional connection as the focus shifts from the bonding experience of sexual intimacy to performance-based metrics. Psychosexual therapist Christopher Brett-Renes says not only this, but it can incite arguments and cause unnecessary tension in a relationship.
“Going into comparison mode isn’t going to turn on your sexual partner. If anything, it will push them away or cause an argument,” he said. “People often overlook the fact that an ex is the ex for a reason, it doesn’t matter what the sex was like. Don’t let your insecurity damage your relationship – your partner IS WITH YOU.”
Overcoming SCM Tendencies
Recognizing and addressing SCM tendencies is crucial in order to cultivate a healthy and fulfilling sexual relationship. Here are some strategies to overcome this harmful mode (2):
- Self-Acceptance: Embrace the uniqueness and individuality of your own sexual experiences and preferences. Remember that everyone’s journey is different, and there is no universal standard of sexual satisfaction.
- Open Communication: Engage in open and honest conversations about your insecurities and concerns with your partner. Sharing your fears and worries can foster intimacy and bring you closer together.
- Focus on the Present Moment: Shift your focus from comparing yourself to others to being fully present in the moment with your partner. Practice mindfulness during sexual encounters, allowing yourself to fully experience the pleasure and connection.
- Challenge Unrealistic Standards: Recognize the influence of media and society on your perception of sexuality. Challenge and question these unrealistic standards by seeking out accurate and diverse representations of sexual relationships.
- Invest in Emotional Intimacy: Prioritize emotional intimacy and connection in your relationship. Remember that sexual satisfaction is not solely dependent on physical performance but is deeply intertwined with emotional connection and trust.
- Seek Professional Help: If your SCM tendencies are significantly impacting your well-being and relationships, consider seeking support from a qualified therapist or counselor who specializes in sexual health.
Don’t Let Your Partner’s Past Ruin Your Future Together
Sexual Comparison Mode (SCM) is a pervasive mode that can harm both our individual well-being and the health of our relationships. By understanding the underlying causes and effects of SCM, we can take active steps to overcome this tendency. Through self-acceptance, open communication, present-moment focus, challenging unrealistic standards, investing in emotional intimacy, and seeking professional help when necessary, we can break free from SCM and foster a more satisfying and fulfilling sexual relationship. Remember, true sexual satisfaction comes from embracing and celebrating your own unique journey, instead of constantly comparing it to others.
- “Nadia Bokody reveals the terrible sex habit that needs to stop.” News. Nadia Bokody. August 14, 2021.
- “How To Stop Comparing Yourself To His Ex: 10 Effective Tips.” A Conscious Rethink. Tiffany Shepherd. June 12, 2023.