‘Am I too fat for sex?’: Sexologist on how to cope with intrusive thoughts

Welcome to Relationship Rehab, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all your romantic problems, no holds barred.

This week, our resident sexologist Isiah McKimmie helps a man who feels too fat to have sex.

QUESTION: Over the past few years, I’ve put on a lot of weight and although my wife says she still loves me, I feel like I’m too fat for sex. I feel very self-conscious of my rolls and having to manoeuvre myself around to get into different positions. My wife says she doesn’t care and just wants to have a decent sex life but I’m not sure I can look past it. How do I get these intrusive thoughts about myself out of my head so I can relax enough to have sex?

ANSWER: Feeling ‘too fat for sex’ or ‘too unattractive for sex’ are painful feelings to have.

Feeling overweight, being unsatisfied with how we look or struggling to accept changes to our body can leave all of us struggling with confidence, self-esteem and libido.

You’re not alone. I regularly speak to people who lack confidence, have noticed changes to their body after childbirth, illness, ageing or just life who find themselves impacted.

As someone who struggled with body image and not wanting anyone to see me naked for many, many years, I understand and empathise. It’s tough. Unchecked, it takes a toll on your mental health and relationships.

Sexuality changes as we age

Sex will change as we age. Things that we could once do, won’t come as easily anymore. But it is possible to maintain a loving sex life – and your relationship will benefit from it.

How to get over body image anxiety during sex:

Believe your wife

I get it’s challenging, I really do. But believe your wife. She’s with you for more than your body, she’s with you for you. She still desires you. She wants you. She wants to do something incredible, intimate and special with you, not with anyone else. Do you know how lucky that makes you? What an incredible person you must be for her to want that with you.

Aim for appreciation

Positive talk in regard to our bodies can be hard. We can’t always get to loving the way we look. Consider starting with appreciation. What do you love and appreciate about your body? Think of all the amazing things your body does and allows you to do. Remind yourself of at least one of these every day. Appreciation can grow into acceptance and love.

Prioritise your wife’s pleasure

It can be hard to get out of your own head and enjoy yourself, but consider just focusing on your wife’s pleasure for a bit. She wants to be satisfied. Satisfy her.

If your wife is open to it, make it a little raunchy by blindfolding her and having her get into a position where it’s easy for you to pleasure her.

Seeing her enjoyment can lead to your own turn on.

Take deep breaths

We have intrusive thoughts because we feel anxiety and shame. Taking deep breaths calms our nervous system and slows our thoughts down.

When you start to feel overwhelmed by negative thoughts, just stop and breathe. Focus on the here and now, the touches, the glances, the shared love between you.

Focus on your pleasure

Putting your attention on the pleasure your body is experiencing can help distract you from negative self talk.

What you might find is that the more you allow your body to experience pleasure, the more you appreciate and love your body for that.

Use cushions to make yourselves comfortable

Using cushions or pillows can make a big difference in finding positions that work better for both of you. It’s not about covering up or compensating; it’s about enhancing the experience for you both.

Specially designed sex pillows were developed for this in mind. They’re great for anyone struggling with restrictions in their body and those of us who just like to be comfortable during sex.

Get professional support

A therapist specialising in body image or a sex therapist can offer strategies and perspectives that you might not have considered. They can provide a safe space to explore these feelings and find ways to navigate through them, together with your wife.

Isiah McKimmie is a couples therapist, sexologist, sex therapist and lecturer. To book a session with her, visit her website or follow her on Instagram for more advice on relationships, sex and intimacy. If you have a question for Isiah, email relationship.rehab@news.com.au

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