If you ask your friends for advice on how to have better sex, suggestions usually start rolling in for positions, techniques, time of day, or time of cycle. But what about tips for having body positive sex? That gut-wrenching feeling that something is "off" in regards to your bedroom chemistry can be mind-boggling and a little bit embarrassing. But if your lovemaking is causing you to have anxiety during sex, then it might be time to examine your attitude toward intimacy.
Many of us know the importance of being body positive when it comes to dressing with confidence or treating other humans with empathy and respect. But in the same way that years of societal pressure can make a person feel as though they need to dress or act a certain way, it can also skew our perception of ourselves and of our partners during sex, leading to less-than-enjoyable results.
When I first started actively considering the role of body positivity in my sex life, I began feeling like I was in a new world. I stopped worrying about what I looked like, and focused instead on how I felt. Sex suddenly became a more intimate, beautiful, connective experience. That said, I needed to get rid of many feelings of negativity and insecurity in order to reach that point. If you want to do the same, consider analyzing these 19 signs that you're not body positive in bed — all gathered from personal and observed experience.
1. You Only Have Sex With The Lights Off
Not only can sex with the lights on (or in the daytime) help you see what you’re actually doing, but it can actually be a liberating experience as well. Insisting that the lights stay off sends the message that you’re uncomfortable with your partner seeing you, suggesting that you either fear that they may not love every inch of you, or that you don't love every inch of yourself.
I promise that you’re wrong, though. Your partner is generally going to be focusing on how utterly sexy you are, and the fact that they want to be naked with you in a room. With the lights off, you might also miss out on intense, passionate gazes or sweet, loving smiles.
2. You Refuse To Get Completely Naked
Those who aren’t body positive in bed tend to prefer wearing clothes to ~help~ cover up. I imagine it makes them feel less exposed, and therefore less vulnerable.
Listen: I know your lingerie is hot, but you know what’s even hotter? You. Naked. Completely.
If you’re worried about showing off your jiggly booty or your birthmark that’s shaped like Idaho, put those nerves aside and embrace your birthday suit. Your body and your partner will thank you for it.
3. If You Do Get Naked, You Put All Your Clothes Back On ASAP
Please stop to think for a moment before reaching for your T-shirt. What’s your reason for doing so? You might find that you’re subconsciously wanting to cover your body because you’re not at ease being naked quite yet. If the idea of lounging around in the nude post-coitus really makes you nervous, try to take baby steps to get more comfortable with your body.
Consider slipping into just your undies and snuggling for 15 minutes afterwards. With time, you’ll gradually become more open to seeing yourself — and letting your partner see you — without your clothes on.
4. You Shy Away From Certain Positions
If you refuse to be on top because all you can think about is how exaggerated your double chin will look, I’m going to stop you right there. You’re missing out on the wonders of intimacy, and hindering your own pleasure by limiting yourself in this way. Try your best to own it, and keep an open mind to all positions, even if they don’t give your partner the best “angle” of you. After all, the notion of "best" angles is coated in unnecessary beauty standards, no?
5. You Won't Let Your Partner Go Down On You
Many women of all sizes express hesitation about their partners getting down there. Because of this, it can be difficult to relax during oral sex. Anxiety over scent, taste, hair or stubble, whether or not you look good, and more can all send a person into a frenzy. Once you realize that all of you, even the most intimate parts, are beautiful as is, this seemingly vulnerable act can go from stress-inducing to stress-relieving.
6. You're Worrying About How You Look Mid-Act
It's difficult to enjoy the moment if you're too busy worrying about your tummy forming new rolls in that position, or your thigh cellulite bunching while you're straddling someone. Rather than focusing on the possibility that your love handles are on full display, channel your energy toward feeling really, really good.
7. You Try To Position Your Body In A Way That'll Make It Look More Conventionally Desirable
This one is for the girls who will push their breasts together while they're lying on their backs to try to make them look fuller. I know — I used to be one of them. Then I realized that no matter how busty you are, your chest will look slightly deflated when you're on your back. That's gravity, and that's OK.
8. You’re Afraid To Tell Your Partner How You Feel Or Give Direction
If your own insecurity is holding you back from communicating in the bedroom, take small steps to become more comfortable with yourself. It's not belittling or insulting to let your partner know what feels good and what isn't doing it for you. Every person's preferences are different, and I'm sure that your S.O. is only concerned about maximizing pleasure for both of you. Retire those fake moans and replace them with genuine euphoria.
9. You Stick To The Same Routine
I get it. I really do. Sticking to a certain routine is predictable, and with that comes a certain level of comfort. You don't have to worry about your body not bending a certain way, or having to fumble around with each other to get the positioning right.
But I'm going to challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and start embracing a more spontaneous approach to sex with your lover. Once you get past the initial fear of the unknown, you might find it to be more authentic, more in the moment, and more enjoyable overall.
10. You Pick Lingerie That Hides Your Perceived “Problem Areas”
If your entire intimates collection is branded with words including "full coverage," "modesty," and "concealing," it's time to stop hiding your body.
Don't get me wrong; some of those pieces are super cute, and it's absolutely OK to buy something because you love the way you feel in it. Just don't start to think that you're limited to certain items due to your body's shape or size.
11. And You Stick To Black Lingerie Only
"But Sarah-Jane, black really is my favorite color to wear!" I know, I know. It's one of mine, too. And it's sexy as hell. But variety is the spice of life, so you might as well try mixing in a pink, an ivory, or a blue.
12. You Refuse To Take A Sexy Selfie, And Not For Reasons Of Privacy
It's certainly understandable that some of us might want to refrain from taking sexually explicit photos of ourselves because we've read all the cautionary tales about pictures ending up in the wrong hands after a relationship turns sour. However, if your primary concern is that you don't like the way your body looks — or if you always take sexy selfies from a certain angle because you perceive it to be the most flattering — it's time to rethink your perception. Your body is incredible from every angle and in every lighting, because it's yours.
13. You Pull The Sheets Over Yourself To Hide
Often, this is a totally subconscious habit. I've done it, and I'm sure many of you have as well. Immediately after the act, or when we're about to masturbate, we cover up with a sheet.
But unless you're genuinely cold and want the warmth, consider leaving the sheet on the floor and taking some one-on-one time with your body and/or that of your lover.
14. You Compare Your Body To Those Of Others
Too often, I've heard my friends lament that their bodies aren't like a certain celebrity's body, or that they can't be as sexy as the women in porn. These comparisons are incredibly damaging to your body positive goals. Your body will never be or look like someone else's, because your body is your own. Let's celebrate all bodies, regardless of whether they're big or small, curvy or slim, tall or short. You get the idea.
15. You Grow Paranoid That Your Partner Is Focusing On Your Every Flaw
I guarantee that all your partner is thinking about when they're in a sexy setting with you is one of the following:
- "This feels amazing."
- "I'm so stoked I get to see this person naked."
- "Damn, they look so hot."
Don't worry yourself. From your partner's point of view, you're looking super fine, every time.
16. You Never Masturbate
Hold the phone: If you haven't tried masturbating because you're conscious of your own body, you really need to try it. Aside from all of the emotional and physical benefits of masturbation, it really can make you feel more connected and comfortable with your body. Plus, it feels downright amazing, and you can do it solo.
17. You Nitpick Your Partner's Body
Body positivity goes both ways. Even if you're feelin' yourself (metaphorically or physically), you should stay positive and accepting of your lover's body as well. Whether they have put on a few pounds, lost a few pounds, skipped shaving for a few days, or have stretch marks, every body deserves love and respect. And if you notice that your partner is bummed due to their body image, be encouraging and uplifting to help them realize that their own body is a glorious, glorious thing in all of its stages.
18. You Prefer Planned And Calculated Sex
Similar to my point about having a set routine, some people stick to a set schedule when it comes to sex. Saturday night at 8 p.m., for example.
Sometimes, this is for a 100 percent valid reason: The kids are at grandma's, it's the only time you and your partner have downtime, etc. Other times, it's because you want to make sure you're always smoothly-groomed and made up with perfect hair when it's sexy time.
There's nothing wrong with feeling good about yourself (in fact, I encourage it), but it can be a very freeing experience to have sex when the moment hits you, even if your legs are a little furry because you haven't shaved for a few days.
19. You’re Afraid To Just Let Loose
I wanted to end on this on a gentle reminder that sex is an awesome opportunity to unleash your most body positive self. As you explore your own body and that of your partner, try to admire all the little details that make you, you. Let loose, have fun, and enjoy the ride in every sense of the word.
Once you go body positive in the bedroom, you'll never go back to your more inhibited ways.
Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle (20)