Eating Disorders and Sex

One of the major criteria necessary for a diagnosis of an eating disorder is poor body image and body dissatisfaction. It is not surprising then that those who have an eating disorder might struggle with sex and sexuality. Sexual activity requires an entirely new level of vulnerability which is understandably difficult if you struggle with your body image. 

This is something that is really important for me right now because my partner cannot understand why I can’t be intimate with him. It wasn’t until I wrote him a letter explaining that I had an eating disorder and that I am too self-conscious to be sexually involved that he understood where I was coming from. I know that it is extremely frustrating for him, even if he wont admit it, but he has been extremely supportive and willing to go at my pace. 

I guess the one thing that really helps me get more comfortable with being sexually intimate is the fact that if he did not find me attractive he would not be interested. Therefore, I am the only one who sees the flaws. He tells me that I am beautiful and that I have nothing to worry about, but its still really hard to get over. It also doesn’t help that he is extremely attractive and has a six pack. I feel like it would be easier for me to be less self conscious about the amount of fat on my abdomen if he had a bit of meat on his bones as well. I feel like he could do SO much better than me in terms of looks. But again, he chose me over other girls and it certainly wasn’t because he thought I would put out. Its been 2 years and we still haven’t gone “all the way” so there must be some reason that he is sticking around.

Can any of you who have eating disorders relate to this difficulty with intimacy? And if so, how do you overcome it? Its really frustrating to say the least. I want to be able to be comfortable in my own skin, I just don’t know how. 

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7 thoughts on “Eating Disorders and Sex

  1. Little Miss Fit says:

    I can totally relate to you! But it’s even a bit worse for me, since I’m married. My eating disorder got really bad shortly after we got married and ever since my desire to have sex has significantly lessened. Aside from body image issues and struggling with intimacy, a “side effect” of anorexia is loss of sexual desire, so that is probably another component as well. It’s still difficult for me. I’ve come very far from the days when I was at my worst with my ED, but I am still really under my ED’s grasp…now more restriction during the day/binging at night. But it has severely impacted our relationship too, because I obviously know that he needs that sexual aspect and I want so badly to be more sexual, but I just don’t have that desire or want to do so right now. I, too, tell myself similar things like “he wouldn’t want to do mess around if he didn’t think I was attractive” and he tells me that now more than ever (since I have gained the weight) I look healthy and my body looks great and the best it’s been since we’ve been together, but it’s still hard for ME and how I perceive myself.

    • Aylalala_xo says:

      I’m glad someone else understands! I agree that your situation is more complicated since your married. For me it has prevented me from officially entering a relationship. I’ve been on and off again with the same guy for two years but any time we come close to getting really serious I back out and push him away. I actually can’t let myself be that vulnerable. It also doesn’t help that I’m a virgin so I have a lot of other fears (ie. Will it hurt) in addition to my insecurities. I so badly want to be with him because I love him and I feel safe and secure with him but he doesn’t want to be in a relationship without first having the sexual aspect. So at this point I don’t know if I’m thinking about having sex because I want him to want to be with me or because I actually just really want to do it. All I know is that my bulimia is making it a lot harder to deal with since I hate my body 😦

      • Little Miss Fit says:

        I am so sorry dear. That is such a difficult situation to be put in. Only you can decide for yourself if and when you’re ready to have sex, so don’t rush it until you’re 100% sure you’re ready. I know that the bulimia will contribute to your reluctance, but don’t just rush ahead with it, especially if you have other concerns too. Take your time. But think about if you really want to be with this guy. If you really genuinely love him, then you know that it’s your ED that is contributing to you holding back from him. But if there are other components to the reason why you can’t fully connect with him, then maybe it’s not just your ED that is holding you back, but your inner gut not letting you get too close to him. So explore that a bit, too, and then hopefully that will help you at least figure out if you really want to be with him or not.

      • Aylalala_xo says:

        Thank you so much, this actually really helps. I will definitely take more time to think about everything that might be holding me back. I really appreciate your advice ❤

  2. gentlekindness says:

    I have been on the other side of this situation. I can give you perspective from that side. I sometimes understood his hesitance to be intimate due to lack of self esteem but only when he verbalized this to me.

    How I felt a lot of the time was that he did not want me and that I was not desirable to him. I felt my self esteem going down more and more. What was most helpful to me was when he reassured me that I was beautiful and desirable and it was his own issues that caused the problem. It is easier to be supportive then.

    At the times I felt bad about myself, it was harder to be supportive of him. I just felt neglected and abandoned.

    So, the best thing is to reassure him that he is still attractive to you and you want to work thing out about it. Then he will be able to help you with your feelings more. Take care
    Annie

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