When you’re planning a beach holiday with your partner, nothing can strike more fear in your heart than the thought of having to walk around half-naked in front of strangers.
Being exposed in front of a lot of people can easily bring up anybody insecurities you have, and as a result, you may be dieting frantically and going to the gym seven days a week so you can achieve a more ‘desirable’ beach body.
This type of mindset isn’t exclusive to women – men also experience feelings of dissatisfaction when it comes to their appearance.
When we start to feel self-conscious about our bodies in front of our partner it can be for a number of reasons. Examples may be:
- Pregnancy: When a woman is pregnant or has recently given birth, the experience of her changing body can make her feel uncomfortable in her own skin. These feelings are often linked with stress in couple relationships.
- Aging: As we age, our body goes through a transformation which can at times be difficult to come to terms with. If there is an age gap in a relationship, the older partner may feel even more self-aware about the aging process because they are going through the changes alone.
How we feel about our bodies VS what our partner thinks
When you become fixated on your appearance, you may start to believe that other people share the same negative views of your body. But, researchers have found that this is often not the case when it comes to couples:
‘If you are unhappy with your body, you probably assume your partner notices all the flaws you do,’ write body image researchers Dr. Charlotte and Patrick Markey on Science of Relationships. ‘The good news is that our romantic partners appear to be much happier with our bodies than we are; this is especially true for women (who are likely to be more critical of their own bodies).’
Effects on relationships
Being self-conscious about your body can affect a relationship in a number of different ways.
- Intimacy: if one partner has a low body-image, they may feel uncomfortable with being intimate with their partner. A lack of intimacy is often cited as one of the main problems in relationships.
- Quality time: sometimes, feeling self-conscious can make a person unwilling to go outside or do new things. As a result, the amount of quality time spent together as a couple may diminish.
Top tips for improving your body confidence:
We ask body confidence ambassador Alice Jackson, to give her top tips for improving you and your partner’s self-esteem in summer and throughout the year.
- Plan ahead. If you’re going on holiday with your partner, make sure to pack clothes that you feel most confident in.
- Keep a diary. Rationalize your negative thoughts by writing them down. Eventually, you may see a pattern emerge and you’ll be able to identify what triggers your bouts of low self-esteem.
- Focus on the positives. What are you good at? What do you love to do? By focusing on what you enjoy, you can draw your efforts towards being in a happier place mentally.
- When you look in the mirror think about what you like about your body, not what you dislike. Try to say it out loud and smile as you say it, repetition of healthy thoughts will help to boost your inner confidence.
- Put things in perspective. Other people probably don’t even notice the things you are insecure about so why let your attention and time be pointed towards them?
- Get outside and sweat with your partner! Go for a run together, play tennis, go for a lovely swim in the sea. When you exercise you release endorphins which help to lift your mood and improve your confidence.
- Be complimentary. Spread positive thoughts and your energy will be better.
- Remember that your partner loves you for who are you as a person.
Top tips for improving your partner’s body confidence:
- Be reassuring. Give compliments and the reasons behind the things you like about your partner. Sometimes having your confidence boosted can be as simple as hearing someone you love to talk about you and saying something nice.
- Steer the conversation away from the destructive talk. If your partner is complaining or being negative about their body try to change the subject. It doesn’t help to dwell on negativities or pander to unhealthy behaviors and attitudes.
- Spend time together and apart. There’s no doubt that when you’re feeling happier you feel more confident and your self-esteem is boosted. Make sure you and your partner have time to do things together that you love but also independently so you don’t have to rely on each other for self-confidence.
- Carry out thoughtful acts for your partner. It’s the small things in life that can make the difference to how somebody feels. It could be as small as making them a cup of tea.
Body Confidence and self-esteem are two very personal topics. It’s more about how you feel on the inside than what is shown on the outside. If you feel your relationship with your body is affecting your relationship with your partner it’s important you talk to them. If you would like more advice then you can speak to trained helpers in the Listening Room.
The organization Body Gossip also offers advice and inspiration for harnessing body love.