How to have fantastic sex without feeling sexy.

If you’ve been following the more personal threads on this blog you know that I’ve been struggling with feelings of body dysmorphia for a while. This struggle causes me to do a lot of thinking – mostly useful thinking – about why I feel the way I do and what I can do about it. 

A couple of days ago I was thinking about how my feelings about my body have affected my sense of myself as a sexual person. My sexuality, and my ability to express it, is deeply important to me, and these dysmorphic feelings have made it much harder to do that. But this hasn’t been a binary on/off kind of thing. As I’ve thought about my sexual feelings during this dysmorphic period, I’ve noticed something surprisingly nuanced:

I haven’t felt sexy in over a year. Not at all. Not even once. But, during that year there have been plenty of times when I’ve felt sexual. I’ve felt sexual desire and sexual openness even though I haven’t experienced myself as sexy. To me, feeling sexy means feeling desirable. It’s related to how I feel when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, and how I feel in my body. Feeling sexy involves being able to look at myself in my mind’s eye and think, “Yeah, she’s hot.” Happily, feeling desirable isn’t the same thing as feeling desired.

If you have a partner who tells you they desire you, consider believing them. This is a person you care about, a person you have sex with, and so presumably a person you trust. Hopefully you trust them not only to be honest with you, but also to have your best interests at heart. If this is true, take them at their word.

You won’t be sorry if you do. Instead, you’ll dramatically increase your chances of connecting with your own feelings of sexual desire even if you don’t feel sexy, and as long as you can do that, you can enjoy having sex with a partner who desires you, whether or not you feel desirable yourself. You just have to accept your own feelings of desire, and be open to the desire of your partner. 

This may sound like a paradox. How can you enjoy sex if you don’t feel sexy? But turn the question around. If you want sex with someone who wants sex with you, why should you have an extra burden of needing to feel sexy? Sure, it’s nice to feel that way, but it isn’t essential. Certainly if that one feeling is absent, it doesn’t need to stop you from enjoying the pleasure and connection you want. 

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