Ideally, sex should be a blissful flow state accompanied by sounds like someone eating jelly with their mouth open with an occasional schlupping noise. There can be a lot going on when we have sex. Sadly, there are many barriers to good sex. One of them is body image. How we feel about our bodies. Fortunately, there are ways to enjoy sex, no matter how you feel about your body.
Paul Martin is the Senior Psychologist at the Centre for Human Potential.
People can feel shame, disgust, and general negativity about their bodies. That can include feeling too thin, fat, hairy, not hairy enough, too short, old, or tall. Some of us feel distressed over our sexual anatomy. Dating apps like Grindr don’t help. Comparing yourself with perfectly toned torsos glistening in the moonlight can cause feelings of inadequacy.
Our brains tend to amplify negative emotional experiences and not give weight to the positive. If you have 10 positive sexual experiences and one bad one, guess which one you’ll remember? Yep! The bad one.
Body Image and self-esteem
Childhood body-shaming or bullying will also negatively impact your self-esteem. As an adult, put-downs from partners or negative comments from people on dating apps will amplify your insecurities. The fear of humiliation might then lead you to avoid sex altogether. You might also develop a hypersensitivity to anything that suggests someone has issues with your body. That can result in anxiety during sex.
Our diverse LGBTIQ+ communities include safe and inclusive spaces embracing all body shapes, types and sizes including various genders and intersex. No matter how you feel about your own body and how many times you suffer rejection, there are invariably people who will find you sexually attractive. If you struggle with this, search for inclusive online and in-person communities rather than relying on dating and sex apps.
When someone rejects you in a nasty way about your body or how you look, remember it says more about them than you. People who feel bad about themselves will often try to pull others down. See it as a deselection exercise. Why invest energy into someone who deliberately hurts another person?
No matter what your body type, don’t allow residual childhood damage or negative people to interfere with your ability to enjoy sex. During sex, take time out if you feel anxious. Relax! Remember your sexual partner is aroused no matter how you feel at the moment. That’s all that matters.
If you feel that you are continuing to have issues regarding your body shape or type and it’s getting in the way of you enjoying important aspects of your life, chatting with a psychologist who has a deep understanding of our communities such as Centre for Human Potential can make an enormous difference.
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