Roe McDer­mot

‘ I feel like I have to lose weight be­fore hav­ing sex with my boyfriend’

The Irish Times Magazine - - NEWS -

Dear Roe, I’m a 23- year- old woman and my boyfriend is 25. I’ve never had a se­ri­ous re­la­tion­ship be­fore, though he’s had a cou­ple of girls who were drop- dead gor­geous. I put on a lot of weight a cou­ple of years ago, and since we got to­gether I’ve felt even more self- con­scious about it, es­pe­cially be­cause my boyfriend is re­ally good- look­ing. I don’t want to have sex un­til I’ve lost some weight, but we’ve been to­gether three months now and I know he’s get­ting im­pa­tient. I don’t want to an­noy him, but is it okay for me to ask him to wait un­til I’m more com­fort­able? Is it okay to ask your boyfriend to wait un­til you’re com­fort­able for sex? Yes.

Do I think your boyfriend want­ing to have sex is the is­sue here? No.

Thanks to the op­pres­sive, in­escapable force of pa­tri­ar­chal beauty stan­dards, most women, at some stage, have wanted to be skin­nier or pret­tier or younger.

But there’s a huge dif­fer­ence be­tween want and need. You don’t just want to change your body, you feel like you need to change your body in or­der to have sex – and through sex, a more ful­fill­ing, hon­est and in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship. But your body isn’t the prob­lem. The prob­lem is that you’re cen­tring all your self- worth in your weight, be­liev­ing that you don’t de­serve af­fec­tion, plea­sure or ac­cep­tance un­til your body is smaller. And that’s sim­ply not true. You de­serve it all. Be­cause we all do.

Your boyfriend knows that al­ready. He may have dated women who you think were drop- dead gor­geous, but he ob­vi­ously thinks you are, too. He’s with you though you’re not hav­ing sex, so he ob­vi­ously val­ues your mind and hu­mour and kind­ness and the myr­iad other things that make you won­der­ful. Don’t un­der­mine him by think­ing that he only val­ues women for their thigh- gap.

If you don’t fully be­lieve me, re­verse the sce­nario. Do you be­lieve your boyfriend “needs” to change some­thing about his body in or­der for you to be will­ing to have sex with him? Is there some­thing about his body that would make you de­mand that he change his phys­i­cal ap­pear­ance to fit your stan­dard of at­trac­tive­ness, or else you would leave him?

I doubt it. You’re just scared. Both the physi- cal in­ti­macy of sex and the emo­tional in­ti­macy of a re­la­tion­ship re­quires vul­ner­a­bil­ity; it re­quires that we re­veal our­selves to a part­ner and ask them to ac­cept and ap­pre­ci­ate who we are, right now. But you can’t do that un­less you can ac­cept and ap­pre­ci­ate your­self.

So you have to re­alise that los­ing weight will only make your body smaller, and keep your self- worth de­pen­dent and un­sta­ble, whereas los­ing your shame around your body will make your life more free. You have to work on lov­ing what your body lets you do – which is every­thing. That body you’re so ashamed of lets you move, lets you feel, lets you touch, lets you be touched, lets you reach to­wards peo­ple and ex­pe­ri­ences and beauty and sex and af­fec­tion. It lets you reach to­wards your life. So let it.

Work on your self- es­teem, so that you can in­habit your body and en­act your deep­est de­sires. Work on be­ing kin­der to your­self, and braver, so that you can claim the life and love you de­serve. If you have a ques­tion for Roe, email mag­a­zine@ irish­times. com with “Dear Roe” in the sub­ject line. Names will not be pub­lished.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.