Body Image and Fear
by Judith Brisson
I have a new lover, whom I adore, yet who has trouble believing in my love because he feels he’s not good-looking enough. It saddens me that a body-image issue is getting in the way of our blossoming love. It underscores how important it is to have a positive bodily self-image and how difficulties in this area can impact on one’s personal life.
He shows his insecurity by making jokes about how I would be better off with another better-looking fellow, who doesn’t have such a long list of flaws as to be found in his physical appearance. Maybe for some the physical aspects of their partner are of supreme importance: they might be able to overlook certain character flaws if the object/subject of their desire improves the décor enough.
But I have never been like that.
First of all, what attracts me most to a person, male or female, sexually or not, is the rapport that we share when we’re together. No rapport – no relationship. But particularly in a sexual relationship, the importance of good company is not to be underestimated.
I have a little problem - I’m easily bored. It’s an ugly admission to make, but it boils down to this: no matter how much eye-candy I’m looking at, if the person bores me then my time with him feels like a prison sentence. Ten minutes after our closest encounter (if we ever get that far), I am already checking my watch to see what time it is.
Compounded onto this is the matter that for most of my life, I have been considered eye-candy. While this had had certain advantages (good-looking people have it so easy, my lover recently said), it think that it has also meant that I have attracted a lot of the “wrong” kind of attention from the kind of people that don’t interest me.
I should paraphrase – it’s not wrong attention, but because my primary interest has been a quality relationship, I have had little interest in superficial or purely sexual relationships. Now my lover may have other reasons for suggesting that he is not “good-looking” enough for me, I’m not oblivious to that possibility, but the intensity and passion of our love-making makes me think that he would rather that I stuck around, at least for awhile.
On more than one occasion he’s asked me if I’m hung up about being with someone who is shorter than me, or if I wouldn’t rather date someone with more hair. I think that the body image issue is getting in the way in another sense: my lover assumes that I would be more attracted to a “better-looking” person, or fears that such a person will eventually draw me away.
This insecurity manifests as a lack of trust. The inability to trust one’s partner eventually erodes a relationship, wearing it down to a few weak threads that inevitably break. My hope is that this will not be the direction that our relationship veers into, but I will be vigilant, and supportive of my lover, with the ultimate desire that he will be able to overcome his fears and understand that what I love is the totality of his being, and not just his body.