Ask the Sexpert

Ms. Q & A: She’s Too Self-Conscious About Her Body

Dear Ms. Q,

I’ve been seeing the most adorable doll of a woman. I think she could be “the one” except that she’s painfully self-conscious of her body to the point that it gets in the way of having sex. She won’t get undressed in front of me, she turns the lights out during sex, and she always keeps covered under the blankets. She pushes my hands away if I touch the parts of her body that she’s most self-conscious about. We’ve only had sex three times in the past four months that we’ve been dating.

She’s a big girl, but that doesn’t matter to me. I could stand to lose 70 pounds myself. I keep telling her that’s she’s beautiful, but she’s so hung up on all the things her ex used to say to her – “When are you going on a diet? I’ll do whatever it takes to help you” … “Why don’t you think about getting that lap band surgery?” … “You’d be so much better in bed if you got rid of the extra weight.” She’s also pretty hung up on things that others have said about her – even her mother and sisters. I don’t know how many times I’ve told her, “I’m not that guy!”

I love sex and I love this woman. There’s nothing more I want than to see her while we’re making love. I love her personality and everything about her, but I don’t know if I can live with a woman who’s so hung up about her appearance that she can’t enjoy sex. Is there something else I can do or say to convince her to lighten up and appreciate herself?

Frustrated Frank

Dear Frank,

It sounds like you’ve been saying all the right things and it sounds as if you’re willing to dig out her piles of baggage.

I’ll admit that I’m not crazy about my body. I could stand to lose at least 30 pounds and I wish I had a better body, even when I’ve been at my thinnest size 6-8 self. But I have a man in my life who adores me. It had taken me quite a while to believe him when he calls me “beautiful” and “gorgeous”. I believe it in the way he looks at me and touches me – even in the places that I’m most self-conscious of like my belly. I believe him because of the way he treats, appreciates and enjoys me – all of me — mind, soul and body.

I’ll admit that I’m a lucky to have a man like him and we’re a pretty sexually and sensually uninhibited and evolved pair. While I think it’s important to share my experience, let’s get back to her.

Learning to accept positive messages about body size and appearance can be a hard thing for a woman to believe if she’s been criticized for years. If you think she’s beautiful, tell her – often. Be specific about what you find appealing. Maybe it’s the way she smiles. Maybe it’s the way she walks. Maybe it’s a particular outfit she wears or a color that looks good on her. Also, do you smile and gaze at her when you’re just talking over dinner or coffee or watching TV when the both of you are fully dressed?

I’m a big believer in talking about sex even when I’m not naked and in bed with my lover. Being in a sex-neutral situation might be a good time to talk to her about how you get enjoyment out of seeing your lover while engaging in foreplay and making love. Tell her what turns you on about having the lights on and the covers off.

This is also a good time to find out what’s holding her back from flaunting her inner sex goddess aside from the negative ex talk. (If he said all those nasty things, thank goodness he’s an ex!) Ask what would make her feel sexy. Ask her about her fantasies and things she’d like to do. Maybe it’s not just body image that’s holding her back. Some women are conditioned to be modest and inhibited.

In bed, tell her how good it feels to feel her body and skin next to yours. Tell her how it arouses you and what turns you on about it.

Of course, tell her all the other things you adore about her, especially the things that have nothing to do about sex or her looks. After all, great relationships are more than sex, and great relationships usually lead to great sex.

This may seem like a lot of ego-propping. Not many people are up for the task, but it sounds like she could use it and you seem to be the kind of guy who can make good things happen.

Keep in mind that having sex only three times really isn’t enough time for a lot of women bare their souls and bodies and shed their inhibitions. My suggestions may take some time for her to open up and believe that she’s a sexy woman.

Ms. Q

Got a question for me? Email me at msquote2(at)hotmail(dot)com.