How Bad Body Image Affects Intimacy

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shy woman beneath sheets
Don't let a negative self-image interfere with your romantic relationship.

Intimacy. In a romantic relationship, it is a sacred bond that requires openness and vulnerability. It requires the courage to express the deepest parts of yourself, knowing that you can truly trust the other person. However, it's nearly impossible to cultivate intimacy to its fullest extent when one or both partners hold back because of a lack of trust, fear of vulnerability, or the inability to reveal their true selves.

While we can all look back on our lives and identify situations that either tested our ability to trust, convinced us that it's dangerous to be vulnerable, or caused us to question our self-worth, a poor body image will almost certainly propagate these feelings, affecting intimacy on at least two levels:

Physical intimacy. Imagine this scene: A man and a woman are kissing and their hands begin to undress one another. The man is barely thinking because he's so excited and grateful to be in the presence of such a beautiful woman. The woman, on the other hand, is thinking, I wish we could turn off the lights because I don't want him to see my dimply thighs.

With each article of clothing that drops to the floor, the woman's feelings of sensuality diminish and her body becomes more rigid. As a reult,  what could develop into a deeply natural and beautiful sexual experience is blunted by an emotional wall she puts up. Meanwhile, picking up on her subtle cues, he wonders if he did something wrong.

Emotional intimacy. While you would think that despising your thighs would motivate you to do something about them, ironically, it does just the opposite. If you suffer from poor body image, you're more likely to overeat and engage in other unhealthy habits to comfort and/or punish yourself, creating a vicious cycle of weight gain and self-loathing.

So how does this stifle intimacy at the emotional level? According to Geneen Roth (author of When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair), "Every time you sneak food, you give yourself the message that you cannot be seen ... [and it] translates into sneaking your desires, sneaking your hungers, and sneaking your heart," because you feel you don't deserve love. Keep Reading ...

Love your body!

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