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How My Eating Disorder Affects My Sex Life


Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.

When I’m deep in the depths of my eating disorder, I don’t want anyone to notice me. No compliments. No friendly hugs. I don’t want to feel my clothes touching my body or my arms touching my sides. So the idea of a loving touch, the idea of being held tightly and passionately by my partner may only turn up the volume on my ED voice as my insecurities come to light.

Backing up a bit, my eating disorder developed when I was very young. I had a loud ED voice before I had my first kiss. I thought every woman had trouble with the way her body  looked in certain positions. Or that every woman avoided physical encounters when bloated, constipated, having a bad day or just ate a big meal. These thoughts and feelings were always running through my head, as my eating disorder has been present for every sexual encounter I’ve experienced.

I’ve been single, dating and in a relationship throughout my ED journey. Dating was much more challenging than I expected. I worry I looked better in the photos on the dating app and would disappoint my date on first meeting. My ED voice would yell the individual I was starting to see would be disappointed in the way I looked naked. I have feared this disapproval to the point I’ve ended potential relationships before we made it to this step.

For me, sexual exposures are a part of recovery. Learning to be present in the room with my partner. I’m learning how to be naked, with the lights on and to accept the creases and dimples that are exposed. I’m learning how to be OK with the movement of my body during sex. I want to allow my loved one to see me and embrace me, while I remain mentally present. I want to be able to feel this way regardless of the size of my pants or the number on the scale.

So today, my ED voice remains present during a first date, a first kiss and everything that follows. Throughout recovery, this voice has gotten quieter, but I do not know if it will ever be silent. So much of recovery is learning to accept myself and my body, my womanly curves — muscles, squish and everything in between and being communicative and present with a suitor or partner to let them love my body too.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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Thinkstock photo via Marili Forastieri.