Is Body Image Affecting Your Intimacy?

Is Body Image Affecting Your Intimacy?

Do you crave connection but get in your own way, waiting for the moment when you feel you will be worthy to share yourself with someone? Too often, our body insecurity leads to inhibitions about intimacy, robbing us of the closeness we desire. Here's how to prevent your reflection from cheating you out of affection. 

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From a young age, we are inundated with unrealistic images of physical perfection – images that are designed to make us feel less-than so we can buy more-than of whatever those images are selling. Instead of feeling manipulated, we feel morose as we continue doom-scrolling and page-flipping, comparing our perceived imperfections to the unattainable, filtered, flawless photos in magazines and online. 

Women in particular are at risk for mental health disorders related to body image, especially eating disorders, mood disorders, depression, anxiety, and poor psychological functioning. It’s not just wealthy Westerners buying into the false notion that our physical beauty is our most valuable capital, according to the Cambridge journal Global Mental Health. Across Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe, as societies become more affluent and more exposed to Eurocentric beauty ideals, dissatisfaction with body image skyrockets. Nations afflicted with famine, genocide, and oppression only a generation ago are now burdened with girls carving and starving themselves in an attempt to increase their positive perception of their own worth.  

Three Things You Can Do For Your Self-Image


Body image experts suggest that women who grew up watching their mothers talk poorly about themselves while standing in front of the mirror are likely to repeat the futile exercise, and to pass a tendency to be self-critical down to their offspring. Pay attention to the messages you’re sending yourself (and those around you) as an adult, and if you don’t like what you hear, try reframing. For example, instead of saying “I look so fat in this dress,” try an affirmation like, “This color really makes my eyes stand out,” or “I feel cute and comfy in this!” If you’re struggling with reframing, consider cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy that can help you replace negative messages with positive affirmations.


See yourself as a whole person, not a pile of parts. Find something that makes you feel healthy, capable, and strong. That could be signing up for a yoga or fitness class, moving that heavy sofa (safely!), or embracing a physical feature that reflects pride in your cultural heritage. Or, it could mean allowing yourself to dedicate time to an activity that brings you joy. Dance (or sing or sew or scrapbook) like no one’s watching. 


Think about how you want to feel in your body. It’s the only one you’ve got. Stretch out in a comfortable position and close your eyes. Imagine wearing the most beautiful clothing you’ve ever seen. Visualize every detail in its color and texture, think about how it would feel on your skin and fit across your body. How would your body feel wearing something so exquisite? Explore and embrace those sensations. You deserve to feel confident, beautiful and amazing.

Guided imagery not your thing? Try a somatic yoga class or video to learn how to be more aware of your body in space and where it holds tension. If past tendencies or trauma are affecting your ability to feel comfortable in your own skin, you may want to explore possibilities for healing, like working with a therapist who is trained in trauma healing or mindfulness techniques and somatic experiencing therapy

Three Things You Can Do To Build Intimacy


What makes you feel the way you want to feel during moments of intimacy – emotionally and physically? Be specific. For example, if you need privacy, be able to say whether that’s a closed door or a secluded space. Being able to articulate what you need to be comfortable is a great first step toward communicating your boundaries and allowing yourself to become vulnerable with a partner. 


When your attention is absorbed with all the things you don’t like about yourself, or you’re scrolling endlessly and avoiding human interaction, there’s very little room left for someone else. Take a break from all your devices. They’re not Tamagotchi pets. They’ll still be there tomorrow. Indulge all of your senses in the real world. Learn which sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and forms of touch appeal to you and share them with your partner.


The person who initiates intimacy – whether that’s emotional or physical – is hoping for connection, but acknowledging the possibility of rejection. It can be hurtful or embarrassing when our affections aren’t returned, and it can be isolating to be the only one who’s on the receiving end of all those no’s. Studies show that people who are insecure about their bodies are much less likely to initiate intimacy and sex, but their partners rarely view their perceived “flaws” in the same way. You don’t have to be perfect to be desirable, but you might have to let go of your perfectionism to feel desire.

Isn’t it time you stopped worrying about other people’s expectations and started focusing on creating a life that fulfills your own?

Take the time to try these tips above, or consider reaching out to find a Lifeologie therapist near you who can help guide you toward great mental health, whether that’s exploring EMDR for processing past trauma, working with a couples’ sex or intimacy specialist, or learning mindfulness techniques that can alleviate anxiety and help you develop self-compassion and acceptance.

About Lifeologie

Lifeologie Counseling was founded in 2000 with one goal in mind — to bring a fresh, innovative approach to the everyday problems of life. Creative solutions to stuck problems®. With our unique multi-specialty, collaborative approach, Lifeologie Counseling helps individuals and families heal their wounds and break out of old, unhealthy patterns.