Open up any magazine today; you will likely find at least one article praising the benefits of good sexual health. However, this is something that is often far easier said than done. Something that is very common, among both men and women (though it is more common for women) is having issues with body positivity. For many of us, learning to love our bodies as they are might seem impossible. The ability to do so can really improve our confidence as well as our sex life. Just think about it, if you don’t like the way you look, you aren’t exactly looking forward to getting naked. And that’s a shame.
There is a whole body positivity movement that seeks to help people love themselves as they are. We are all perfectly imperfect. It can take time to change this negative mentality, especially with society often lauding almost impossible to realize beauty standards. However, an understanding of the negative impacts that a poor sense of body image can cause is the first step in taking control of the problem and trying to find a solution.
Here, we will briefly look at the various impacts body insecurity can have. It is pretty natural to be self-conscious about our bodies. But it really becomes a problem when it interferes with our ability to enjoy a healthy and positive sex life. Finally, we will look at a few ways that you can work on improving your self-image with the goal of being able to be present and enjoy your sex life to the fullest.
Bad body image can contribute to depression
We constantly hear about the impacts of stress on our mental and physical well-being and yet sexual health is one of those areas that we are prone to overlook. But stress in this area of our life can also have a ton of negative impacts as well. This is especially true if we are in a committed relationship as it can be hard to explain these personal issues to someone else. But think about it, if you are unable to enjoy your sex life, chances are this weighs on you, mentally. You probably know that your partner notices something wrong, but you don’t know how to bring it up or rectify it.
These feelings can, over time, contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety. We all know that these feelings are not relegated to one area of your life and can contribute to issues in other aspects of your life as well. Our sexual well-being might seem like something that isn’t very important, but it, too, can have an overall negative impact on us.
Hating one’s body can ruin your sex life
To many, it probably feels like our bad body image is all in our heads and doesn’t have any consequences outside of making us feel a little bad about ourselves. But, as we discuss above, there are real physical consequences of having a toxic body image as well. Whether we are in a committed relationship, dating, or are single, it is important to understand that a negative body image can also have negative consequences for your sex life. A little-known fact about depression and anxiety is that they can impact our ability to enjoy sex when we do have it.
For some people, it is an inability to get out of our own heads enough to be able to enjoy the moment we are in. But for others, it is a real physical issue. Stress, depression, and anxiety are all shown to have a common effect of lowering libido. This simply means that you will desire sex less when you are feeling this way. Additionally, it can also make it difficult or impossible to get aroused. Even more frustrating, if you do get aroused, you can struggle to climax if you are stressed out and worried.
When we have a negative body image, it can have an impact on many different areas of our life. So, is there anything we can do to work on this? The answer is yes, but you shouldn’t expect results overnight. This is a struggle that for many people lasts a lifetime. However, it is worth trying, even if you are only marginally successful. Hating your body is not a good thing! Becoming aware of your bad body image and how it can affect you will help you learn to deal with and proactively address the problem. There are elements that will involve your partner, but mostly this is something you will cultivate within yourself. It will not remove all your bad body image and will take time, but you will learn to like yourself more, which is a great thing.
Find something you do like about your body
When you first read this, your initial reaction might be “There is NOTHING to like about my body.” That’s not true. No matter how much we are uncomfortable or unsatisfied with how we look there is something that we like about ourselves. Maybe it is our hair, our eyes, our ankles – who knows! But whatever it is, appreciate it for the beauty of that feature. While you may only see this one feature as being good, there are more. And once you can accept that you have at least one good feature and learn to believe it, you can begin to see others.
This is not to say that we should be egotistical. Of course not! But for many people, the idea of letting someone else see or touch their body is horrifying and this is what we are trying to overcome. Obviously, it is possible to take this too far, but for most of us, this isn’t going to be an issue. There is something freeing and liberating about being able to love at least one element of your body. It gets you headed in the right mental direction.
Believe it when your partner compliments you
If we have a hard time finding anything redeeming about our bodies, chances are we aren’t going to believe it when someone else gives us a compliment. But the thing is, most people aren’t giving you compliments just to be nice, they actually mean it! It might be hard for you to believe but if your partner tells you they like how you look in some outfit or that “x feature” is the best they’ve ever seen, for them it might just be. Though it is certainly not easy to believe something others think about you, especially when you don’t see it yourself, taking a compliment for what it is can actually be really liberating.
It is nice to know that your partner thinks you look good. But if you always fight or argue with them when they tell you this, they may just stop doing it. And this can, in turn, cause even more body anxiety on your part. As tempting as it is to tell your partner that they are wrong when they tell you that you look good, try a simple thank you. And though it isn’t easy, work on actually believing them. It can do wonders for your self-confidence and help you be more confident in your relationship as well.
Learn what you like sexually (it isn’t always obvious!)
Too often, we see strong women and think they know what they want, every time, about everything. But this isn’t true. We all have to learn about ourselves. Learn our likes and dislikes. And this is true in pretty much any aspect of our lives – our sex life is no different. We don’t come into the world automatically knowing what we like or enjoy. However, learning your body and what it is that you do like, and what you can do without, can help you gain sexual body positivity that you might not otherwise have. And, not to mention, it can dramatically improve the quality of your sex life as well.
Focus on sensations and stay in the moment
Another great way to help reduce the negative impact that poor body image can have on your sexual health is to practice certain mindfulness tricks. One of the biggest keys to practicing mindfulness that makes it so effective is that it teaches you how to be in the moment. This is not something that comes naturally for many people, it is something we have to cultivate within ourselves. And doing so is absolutely worth the work. It can have a really good impact on so many areas of our life. This is even true in the bedroom.
If you learn how to focus on the present moment, being there, and simply feeling and enjoying sensations as they happen, you aren’t focused on how some body part might look in the wrong lighting. Not only can this be really liberating for us in our body image, but it can really make our sex lives a lot better as well. The point of the whole thing is to enjoy yourself and your partner and this isn’t something you can do if you are constantly worried about dimpled skin or love handles. We find these techniques to be incredibly useful and with practice, pretty much anyone can find some benefit from these techniques.
Just because you have body insecurity doesn’t mean you are doomed to a bad sex life that is unsatisfactory. It does mean that you are going to have to learn how to love yourself and be patient as you move along the path to learning how to accept yourself. It’s going to be challenging but fun getting to know yourself in a different way – enjoy it!
Disclaimer: #Dating’s blog posts are for you to view at your discretion, and the sexual health insights presented are for general information only. It is not intended as medical advice and readers should seek professional guidance if appropriate.