How to Receive Desire When You Feel Undesirable

Honesty time: I may be a sex blogger, but I hardly ever feel sexy.

I’ve grown up with a chubby body and a face that’s definitely not “conventionally attractive.” But truthfully, insecurity and an ugly self-image can plague anyone, regardless of what they look like on the outside. Even the most gorgeous, magazine-worthy folks have their own self-love struggles to deal with.

Dissatisfaction with your appearance can cause problems in all sorts of areas, but one place where it feels especially weird is when you find yourself being wanted by someone. When you’re the target of desire and flirtation, it can feel foreign, misplaced, or even like a mean trick. Even after years of working on my self-acceptance, I still find myself assuming that compliments I receive from flirtatious strangers are really just a joke, and that they’re mocking me, Regina George-style.

That said, here are my best tips for how to deal with being desired when you feel undesirable. These work for me… most of the time.

Work on your self-love. Everyone could use a boost in this area, I think. I am a fan of Gala Darling’s “Radical Self-Love” materials, as well as the book You Can Heal Your Life by Louise L. Hay. You can also keep it simple by just paying yourself a compliment every day in the mirror. (Are you surprised to see hippie-dippy self-love stuff on a sex blog? Don’t be! Self-acceptance is mandatory for fulfilling, healthy sex, methinks.)

Remember that attraction is subjective. Oh, this is a big one for me. I look at myself in the mirror and think, “That’s not hot!” and so I assume, implicitly, that everyone else feels the same. Well, they don’t! Everyone is attracted to different qualities and body types and personalities and faces. Sometimes it helps to remind myself of all the quirky-looking people I’ve been attracted to. They weren’t supermodels, but I adored them. And it’s perfectly understandable for people to feel that way about me, too.

Invite more flirtatious energy into your life. I am an advocate of relationship models that allow for flirting with people other than your partner, because I think that flirty energy is enormously healing and uplifting for most of us. But even if you’re in a strictly monogamous relationship, you’re still allowed to enjoy crushing on others and being crushed on by others, though you may need to keep those feelings inside yourself. You can also watch movies or TV shows where there’s a lot of romance going on – I find that works almost as well as the real thing! The more commonplace those flirty, happy, romantic feelings become in your life, the easier it’ll be to believe that you can be (and are) the recipient of desire.

Fish for compliments. Honestly, fuck people who tell you not to do this. (I don’t mean “fuck them” in the sexual way. I mean it in the “oh, fuck off, you asshole” way.) Obviously it’s annoying when someone is constantly complaining about how ugly they feel, in an over-the-top attempt to garner praise. But if you’re feeling shitty about yourself, you are allowed to ask for reinforcement and affirmation from those who adore you. You are allowed to say, “What is your favorite thing about me?” or “What is the sexiest part of my body?” I used to be a hardcore advocate of the idea that you have to love yourself before anyone else can love you, but then I learned that actually, hearing about how much other people love you can be a great way to shore up your own self-love reserves.

Adorn yourself lovingly. Fuck what other people think looks good on you. What do you think looks good on you? What clothing, makeup, and/or hairstyle is going to make you feel your cutest and most fuckable? Put that stuff on (or go out and buy it, if you don’t already own it) and wear it as often as you reasonably can. Physical trappings may be deemed shallow by some, but they can work wonders on your self-image, so you may as well use them as the tools that they are.

Choose, and embody, a sexiness role model. When you’re at a party or some other environment where you tend to feel like an ugly shrinking violet, choose a celebrity or real-life person who you view as strong, sexy, and desirable – and then pretend you’re them. Try to take on their posture, confidence, and energy. This is a “fake it til you make it” sort of approach, but it works. (Another similar thing I like to do sometimes: imagine your sexiness role model, or your latest crush, is watching you do everything you do. You will automatically act – and feel – sexier and cuter!)

Improve your nutrition and activity level. This is boring and bordering-on-preachy, but I do find I feel sexier when I’m eating well, drinking a lot of water, and getting a decent amount of exercise. This is especially useful for those of us who don’t like our bodies. It’s hard to hate your body for how it looks when you simultaneously love your body for how it feels and what it can do.

Consume more images of people who look like you. Make a Pinterest board or photo album of people who have whatever physical “imperfections” you don’t like about yourself: big hips, big nose, big feet, whatever it is. I promise you there are sexy-as-fuck people in the world who are totally rocking that feature that you hate on yourself, and I also promise that filling your eyes with images of these people will slowly-but-surely shift your perception of that feature.

How do you make yourself feel sexier when you feel distinctly un-hot?