How Body-Image Issues Can Wreck Your Sex Life

body image issues

The effects of poor body image are pervasive. We’d all like to think that we contain the damage of these deep-seeded negative views to ourselves but nothing could be further from the truth. If you don’t believe me, look no further than your relationship with your sexual partner. As if intimacy and love didn’t make you feel vulnerable enough, there you are, in your birthday suit looking to be seen and admired by someone else in a way that you’re unable to do for yourself.

With all the images out there of gorgeous women, it’s really easy to get caught up in the belief that when you lose that [fill in the blank] pounds you’ll feel sexy again. But, until that happens, you’ll what … not be sexy? Of course, not, don’t be silly. Sexy is a state of mind.

Darling, the problem isn’t your body — it’s your head. I can say this with confidence because, for years, it was my problem, too.

Poor body image occurs when you tie your self-worth to how you think your body looks. Conversely, healthy body image is a recognition and acceptance that you do, in fact, have a body but you’re actually a lot more than that. When it comes to sexuality, a negative view of your body can interfere with your ability to feel sexy in your own skin.

If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. For many women, how they feel about their body and how they feel about themselves as a person are all tangled up. And that’s where the problem begins.

When you’re too busy worrying about cellulite and stomach rolls (which BTW we all have) to truly be with your partner, you’re missing out on one of the great joys in life — deep and meaningful connection with another perfectly imperfect human being.

4 Ways Your Body Image Ruins Sex

1. Sex becomes a chore. Studies have repeatedly shown that body anxiety reduces the likelihood of sexual satisfaction leading you to avoid it altogether or get you stuck in a rut where you just go through the motions. Fear of showing more of yourself or letting certain parts of you be seen can cause you to implement a bunch of “rules” — shirt on, lights off, only certain positions. And if you treat intimacy with your partner as a chore, how long do you think it will take them to stop enjoying being with you?

2. Your partner feels rejected. If you’re uncomfortable in your own skin, you’re less likely to want sex. And the more you turn your partner down or remain emotionally distant, the more likely it is that your partner will start to take it personally. Who wants to be told “don’t touch me there” over and over from their partner? If you keep that up, your partner may interpret this as a personal snub or think that you’re emotionally withdrawing and, in the long run, you just might get your way. From your partner’s perspective, it really doesn’t matter why you’re avoiding sex, it still stings and feels very personal.

3. Intimacy fades (and not just in the sack). It’s a privilege to be with a person who feels so comfortable with you that they can relax and be present to both their own needs and the need of their partner. This is how intimacy is created. You can’t experience closeness with someone unless you show up fully and allow yourself to be seen. Over time, your insistence that you’re unwilling to share yourself freely and intimately can erode the relationship in ways that extend far beyond the bedroom.

4. No sex won’t make you feel sexier. By avoiding sex because you don’t feel sexy, you’re just creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. In fact, the more sex you have (and initiate on your own), the sexier you’ll feel — hard to do if you’re too busy fussing over your “flaws.” Plus, nothing is more unsexy than someone who’s always trying to convince you that she’s not sexy. Instead, let all the parts of you be seen, adored and touched and maybe you’ll start to accept them, too. By opening yourself up, you could end up gaining the self-confidence you’re so desperately hoping to find 10 pounds from now … no dieting or self-deprecation required.

As long as you believe that sexual satisfaction can only exist when your body looks different than it does, it’ll never exist for you. It’s a vicious cycle. At first, it’s 10 pounds you “need to lose” but it doesn’t stop there — trust me, I’ve done the leg work. Even if you’re able to reach that weight-loss goal, I guarantee you’ll still be chasing your tail.

In the end, if you’re unwilling to part with your self-loathing, what’s your partner supposed to do? Your partner can’t stop you from choosing your poor body image over the relationship — that’s up to you. Which would you rather hold on to?

Rather than waiting until you feel sexy to have good sex, have good sex and it’ll likely lead you to feel sexy.

Have you noticed this correlation between your body image and sex life? —Alison

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