As a gay man, I have major body image issues that are holding me back from having the satisfying sexual experiences I seek

I’m a 28-year-old gay male who has never had satisfying sex and fear I never will. I struggled with acne into my early twenties and still have major body image and confidence issues, which has made sex and dating difficult. I dream of having that stereotypical sexual life of a gay man and gaining wider, more varied and more satisfying sexual experience, but feel very held back by my appearance. Should I just accept that for some, satisfying sex will be something hoped for but never had?

You may feel that impossibly high standards of a certain type of physical attractiveness exist within your community, and that not conforming to them rules you out of having pleasure, but I can assure you that great sex is not the exclusive domain of pretty people. For a start, many people are more aroused by erotic auditory or kinesthetic stimulation than by visual triggers. Rather than focusing on your body and what may turn off others, pay attention to what arouses you and seek others who share your specific passions. Most importantly, stop creating a negative, self-fulfilling prophecy. If you decide that you are doomed to a life of longing and dissatisfaction, that is what you will create for yourself. Self-affirmation can be extremely powerful, and can help to bring about positive change, so work hard to change your self-talk: (“I’m unattractive”, “No one I am attracted to will want me” and “I will never have the sex life I want”) into opposite, more positive messages: “I am attractive and can draw attractive others to me”, and “I can have thrilling erotic experiences”. When you are no longer hampered by negative beliefs about yourself, you will emit a healthy confidence that will change your life.

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