How to begin loving your body during sex.

IMG_2850Most of us consider sex to be fun, important, and deeply gratifying. So it can be confusing to find ourselves avoiding it. There are several reasons why our discomforts keep us out of bed with one another; at the top of this list is our uneasiness and embarrassment in our own skin. When we are unhappy with the way we look, nakedness can be intimidating at best, unbearable at worst. And when we are filled with these emotions, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to fully enjoy sex.

So what are we to do? One answer lies in cultivating love and compassion for ourselves, just as we are. Here are a few ways to begin:

1. Develop an appreciation for your body and your sexuality alone.

Spend time with yourself naked, and notice what insecurities come up. Observe your thoughts and feelings as though you are not only undressing your body but also undressing your anxiety, letting them both be there without any need to change them. Stay curious about what you are feeling; you may gain some insight into the roots of your negative feelings.

If this feels tolerable, you can also try looking in the mirror, or masturbating in such a way that allows you to explore your own body. See if you can discover your erogenous zones, the features you consider to be your sexiest, and the parts of yourself that may feel a little too vulnerable to be touched. Get to know yourself in this way.

  1. Consider sharing your discoveries with your partner.

If you feel comfortable, let your partner know what you discover during your alone time. Are there areas of your body that feel a little too vulnerable to be touched or kissed? Or do those parts crave some loving attention? Clue him or her in, and don’t be afraid to make requests.

You may also want to share which parts of your body you love, and ask for some extra affection in those places too. Don’t be afraid to adore your amazing butt, and let your partner tell you how much s/he adores it too!

  1. Listen to your boundaries.

Your vulnerability and insecurities will fluctuate, and with them, your needs. If you are feeling more insecure than normal about your body, check-in with your comfort level. Do you feel ready to have sex with this particular person right now? Maybe you want to be intimate, but aren’t comfortable turning on the lights quite yet. Your nakedness is a fragile being; venturing outside your comfort zone is part of healing, but pushing yourself too far or too fast can leave you feeling over-exposed and eventually closed off.

  1. Adorn yourself

There are so many ways to adorn and celebrate your body. Try wearing clothes and/or jewelry that make you feel sexy on days or nights when you may anticipate having sex, or go straight for some lingerie that makes you feel smoking hot. Consider playing dress-up or trying out body paint. Try some home spa treatments to leave your skin extra soft and kissable before a date. Experiment with different perfumes/colognes, or even edible goodies. Let yourself believe just how yummy you are!

If you try out these things and your body image continues to block you from enjoying sex, there may be a deeper underlying issue or trauma that is contributing to your anxiety. Consider counseling as a way to explore and heal these feelings.

Apparently, women can’t even be trusted to make decisions about their gluten intake.

This morning, I woke up to this satirical HuffPost Blog about “basic” white women and their decisions to go gluten-free. These authors, along with countless others throughout the last couple of years, seem to believe that they themselves have a much better handle on what is actually going on within women’s bodies than the women themselves do, and thus they are warranted to publicly shame and berate them for their dietary choices. They cite mockingly how doctors don’t even think gluten intolerance is a thing, implying that women really aren’t in any position to listen to their own bodies and decide what to eat accordingly (or to have the right to follow a diet for whatever reason they chose, body attuned or not).

So I have to fight for you to trust me to make my own reproductive choices, my choices around what clothes I wear, to take my word on when and how I give sexual consent, and now my choices about my gluten intake? Really?

Reading through the comments, countless women posted long-winded reasons for why they made the personal choice to go gluten-free, usually including lists of health symptoms they preferred to avoid. Their tones carried an all-too-familiar powerlessness and frustration; a sense of “owing” these strangers a justification for something that is really none of their business.

I speak up here because these instances of disempowerment, both small and large, hurt women. Policing women’s bodies and their choices, whether it is subtly through sarcasm or on a larger scale through political legislation, is traumatic. It takes away our power, our voice, and our connection to our inner wisdom. This is unfortunately one of the heaviest burdens I work through with my female clients. It starts when we are girls and it perpetuates the world we live in, even on progressive publications like HuffPost.

And so I call on you to help:

Start small; start with gluten. Next time you find yourself judging someone for how much or how little gluten they consume, let it go.

 

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Rachael Uris, MA, LPC is the owner of Atacama Counseling, LLC, offering sex therapy as well as individual and couple's counseling for issues surrounding sexuality, love, and pregnancy. All services are located in downtown Boulder, Colorado, and are provided in English and Spanish.
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