Let’s be real: We all have a few body insecurities that might prevent us from sashaying around the pool in a teeny-tiny bikini or wearing a slinky slip dress. But while there’s always a fix for those types of issues—a sexy one-piece, a long-sleeve mini dress—harping on what you hate about your body can do some pretty serious damage to your sex life.
Because our body image plays a key role in how we express ourselves sexually, when we find fault in every curve, sexual passion can become overrun with anxiety and shame. Whether it’s wrinkles, stretch marks, flabbiness, cellulite, small breasts, or not perfect thighs, when you’re chronically insecure, the list of what you tend to find fault with only grows—and can make sex a chore, says licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Sheri Meyers. “If you’re judging yourself and your body while trying to feel pleasure, it just won’t happen,” she says.
Harping on every imperfection also has the ability to put a strain on your partner, too— not only can sex become infrequent, but if you’re hesitant to get into a bathing suite or a dress, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on important (and fun!) events and occasions. Catching your man casually looking at another female can also send those insecure feelings into overdrive. Why? Because, according to Meyers, there’s a good chance your overwhelming insecurities are driven by competition with other women
The solution? Quit comparing yourself to others and using others’ bodies as a reference point to what’s attractive, sexy or desirable. Sounds easy, right? Well, according psychologist Dr. Jeff Gardere, it could be easier said than done. “The problem may not be the body part(s). It may be a deeper issue that’s just transmitting into something less threatening, like an issue with their thighs.”
Gardere suggests starting by focusing about positive attributes, and making a note of things you like about yourself. “Every time you think, ‘my arms are fat’ or ‘my breasts are small,’ immediately replace those thoughts with something like, ‘I love my hair’ or ‘I have such smooth skin,” says Meyers.
Granted, doing this when you’re naked is a little more difficult, so in the bedroom, think about what turns you on and get some sexy lingerie that accentuates your favorite parts. If your partner’s flat stomach or chiseled arms make you feel like the Pillbury DoughGirl, use his appearance as motivation to achieve better health, and keep in mind that a healthy relationship isn’t just about the physical.
“Focus on emotions, words, romance and the lure of lovemaking. Compensate by drawing attention away from body parts by showing overall competence and confidence in your personality and romantic interactions,” says Gardere.
Another key to overcoming body issues is to see them as opportunity, since they’re often a sign you need—or might want—to take better care of yourself. It’s pretty incredible how, mentally, you’ll start to see yourself differently after a few days of eating clean and adding in light exercise. “The more we focus on what feels good, the less we think about what makes us feel bad,” said Meyers.
Since sexuality starts from the inside, we won’t believe our—current or future—lover finds us attractive unless we believe it ourselves. And, as cliché as it sounds, there’s honestly nothing sexier than a confident woman who knows her body is strong and capable—and who could care less about every little stretch mark or dimple.