What is the Good Girl Syndrome?

The Good Girl Syndrome encompasses the negative or unproductive thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, feelings and behaviors that inhibit one’s responsiveness and enjoyment of the sexual relationship in marriage.

The Good Girl Syndrome is often manifest as feelings of shame, guilt, embarrassment, or discomfort about sex. Misinformation, distorted information, negative information and a lack of positive education about sex and the body result not only in the previously mentioned emotions, but also in an inhibited sexual response.

This negative conditioning, and the lack of sexual knowledge or positive promotion of marital sexuality may be the great, underlying and oft-ignored source of sexual dissatisfaction in many marriages.

“Good Girl” Must be Redefined

Being a “good girl” is a great thing, but the problem is that the definition of a “good girl” must be changed to include embracing and enjoying the sexual relationship in marriage. This may take a huge cultural shift in order for women to break free of the chains that bind them.

The message has always been that “good girls don’t.” But the message needs to be changed to “in marriage, good girls DO!”

Experiencing the Good Girl Syndrome

One woman described her experience with the Good Girl Syndrome as follows:

The “Good Girl Syndrome” must affect millions of women, even those that don’t consider themselves “good girls.” I was especially happy and relieved to read one statement in your book that opened doors for me. GOD APPROVES OF SEX and (here is the crucial point) WANTS YOU TO ENJOY IT!

Logic has always told me that God approves of sex. It’s how we make babies. It’s what draws men and women together. Adam and Eve had sex or no one would be here today to worry about it! But for most of my adult life what I reasoned was that it is “OK” to “let” your husband have intercourse with you. But wanting to be kissed and touched or becoming aroused myself was something I was ashamed to express.

During the times I got turned on and found enjoyment in sex it was barely over when I would begin to wonder if God was disappointed in my behavior. I can’t over emphasize how much that simple statement, WANTS YOU TO ENJOY IT, makes the point of your book come alive for me.

Self-Assessment of The Good Girl Syndrome

On a scale of zero (none) to ten (a lot) rate the effect of each aspect of the Good Girl Syndrome in your life. An honest, in-depth assessment can help you become more aware of any negative conditioning you may have internalized about sex, and help you to see areas that need to be addressed in order for you to fully enjoy the godly gift of sexual intimacy in marriage. The Good Girl Syndrome Assessment scores can range from 0 to 100. Where are you in that range?

“0? None (not true for you) ………. “10? A lot (very true for you)

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10     Underlying belief that sex is bad, wrong, dirty or sinful
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10     Inappropriate inhibitions, guilt, shame or awkwardness associated with sexual relations within marriage
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10     Discomfort, embarrassment or inability to appropriately discuss sexual matters
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10     Discomfort or distaste with sexual parts of the body and body functioning
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10     Lack of understanding of the divine purposes of sex-such as that God intended sex for pleasure, as well as for procreation
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10     Sexual expressions of love are a low priority
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10     Inability to relax and let go within the sexual experience
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10     Lack of genuine enjoyment of sexual relations-participation out of duty
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10     Lack of sexual understanding and “know-how”
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10     An inhibited sexual response due to any of the above 

Steps to Overcome the Good Girl Syndrome

Here are a few helps for overcoming the Good Girl Syndrome. Be sure to also review the information and homework at the end of each chapter (especially chapters 1, 2, and 7) in the book And They Were Not Ashamed-Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment for a more thorough discussion of overcoming the Good Girl Syndrome.

  • Identify the “mental weeds” (thoughts, beliefs) that get in the way of fully responding to and embracing sexuality. It may be easiest to do this in writing.
  • Plant “mental flowers” (positive thoughts and beliefs) in place of the mental weeds. Feed your mind positive, affirming statements about sex, your sexuality, and the sexual relationship in your marriage.
  • Spend time praying, pondering or meditating upon positive aspects of your husband, his body, your body and lovemaking itself. Savor and nurture sexual thoughts and feelings toward your spouse.
  • Relearn the pleasure and enjoyment of touch and affection (with no strings attached).
  • Get educated sexually (you can start by reading And They Were Not Ashamed)
  • Nurture playfulness inside and outside the bedroom.
  • Learn to discuss sex more openly and honestly with your spouse. Practice until it’s easier.


Laura M. Brotherson is the author of a groundbreaking book on sexual intimacy and marital oneness entitled, And They Were Not Ashamed-Strengthening Marriage through Sexual Fulfillment. Laura shares her passion for building strong marriages and families as an author, intimacy educator, blogger and podcaster.

Visit her website www.StrengtheningMarriage.com to learn more, and to sign up for her “Straight Talk about Strengthening Marriage” newsletter. StrengtheningMarriage.com is your trusted resource for education, products and services to strengthen marriages…intimately!