The Hook-Up: 6-23-2010

Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a professional tweeter/blogger for Mother Jones and a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at annapulley.com and on Twitter @annapulley.

My girlfriend and I have been together for four years now. In the past few months, she’s gained some pounds and doesn’t want us to have sex anymore. We talked about it plenty of times and she says she feels bad about her body and that she doesn’t want me to see her in that way. Actually I think she is hotter now and I’m even more attracted to her. We’re on a diet together, we exercise together but she still says she is not comfortable with her body.

She is the love of my life but if the sex topic shows up or if I try to get intimate she pushes me away and it turns into this big fight. What else should I do? Am I being insensitive?

Anna Says: This is sadly such a common issue. Over and over — sometimes hundreds of times a day — women are told that their self worth is dependent on their size. It can be hard to tune out all the crappy messages that make us feel bad about ourselves and our bodies. Not to go all Christina Aguilera on you, but keep reassuring your girlfriend how beautiful you think she is, how much you love her curves, etc.

Don’t do this only when you’re trying to get laid. Do it all the time. Positive reinforcement, while not a miracle by any means, can be helpful to those struggling with body issues. However, let her know that there’s more to her awesomeness than whether she looks amazing in a tube top. (Does anyone?) She should know that your love for her goes well beyond her physical appearance.

The next thing I want you to do is ask her what’s going to make her feel more comfortable being sexual. Maybe it’s keeping some clothes on. Maybe it’s turning the lights off. Maybe it’s trying positions that are more flattering to her jiggly bits. The goal should be her comfort, and finding ways to take the focus and pressure off her insecurities. Our bodies and brains need to be relaxed in order to enjoy sexytimes. To help her overcome the psychological aspect of not wanting to be intimate, check out my column from a few weeks ago on the subject.

One thing I can say is exercise is great all around — for a self-esteem boost, for the happy chemicals it releases in our brains. It also helps us sleep better and staves off illness, so keep that up. And lastly, try not to take her rebuffs too personally. Sure, it sucks when partner wants to get down and durrty and the other doesn’t, but remember that the way she feels about her body has nothing to do with you and how desirable you are.

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