How Do I Develop A Good Relationship With My Body When I Was Never Taught About Sex?

Although we’re living in more sexually liberated times, the only sex education some people have ever received boiled down to “abstain or live in shame.”

By Marina Camacho4 min read
shutterstock How Do I Develop A Good Relationship With My Body When I Was Never Taught About Sex?

Shame-based language surrounding sex has especially been directed at women, leaving many women lost when it comes to developing a good relationship with their bodies and healthily embracing their sexuality. So how can we go about making good sexual choices and having a good relationship with our bodies if we were raised naively regarding sexual realities?

Understand Sexuality Is Not Something To Be Ashamed Of

Growing up internalizing a shame-based attitude when it comes to sexuality can cause women to view their sexuality as a burden rather than as something both necessary and natural. Instead of utilizing their sexual energy to pursue fruitful endeavors, women raised in over-protective homes tend to run from it, repress it, and feel ashamed of it. Because sexuality is a natural part of the human design, viewing it as an inherently dirty and shameful act can make people feel disconnected from their bodies, manifesting as either awkwardness and fear when it comes to sex or hypersexuality as a result of feeling repressed. 

Many believe that shame is necessary in order to encourage people to remain abstinent, but is that really the best way? Though abstinence can be both necessary and beneficial, shame-based language has caused many people to choose abstinence out of obligation rather than free will. Choosing anything out of obligation rather than free will leaves a person with little intrinsic reward, often leading them to feelings of resentment.

Some women turn this resentment on themselves, using hookup culture and sexual liberation to fight the years of feeling disempowered about their sexuality. But even women from more secular, "sex-positive" homes find themselves having a tricky or negative relationship with their sexuality. The focus is always on having fun and exploring, but this leaves them without the ability to set good boundaries or discern between healthy and unhealthy partners. They may have been inundated with shame from friends about being a virgin or felt pressured to participate in casual sex since "everyone is doing it."

Either way, women's relationship with sexuality is often more defined by other people's opinions about how we should use our bodies rather than our own sense of dignity and morality.

Sexuality is a good and natural part of the human design.

Sexual shame has also been found to be an underlying cause of sexual dissatisfaction and low sex drive, and can lead to reckless sexual compulsions, affecting adults and their interpersonal relationships. One study found a significant relationship between sexual shame and its negative effects on self-esteem and sexual satisfaction. The effects sexual shame has on self-esteem can lead to a reduction in intimacy in sexual interactions and romantic relationships due to unexpressed sexual emotions and desires, creating stress and avoidance.

To prevent forming unhealthy sexual relationships down the line, it’s important to come to an understanding that sexuality is natural and can empower you when embraced healthily. Viewing your sexuality as a gift that can empower you when managed responsibly can improve your relationship with your body and give you more self-esteem and security. One way to healthily embrace your sexuality is to step into it and use sexual desire as a source for creativity through sexual transmutation. Sexual transmutation is the practice of understanding sexual energy as life force and transforming your pent-up energy into alternate pursuits like learning, painting, working out, writing, etc. Understanding that your sexual energy is powerful and can be transmuted to pursue certain life endeavors can help you be truly empowered by your sexuality.

Recognize Your Body As Your Gift

If you were raised in a home that stressed purity, you might be familiar with the concept “my body is my future spouse’s gift, so losing my virginity will be like handing them a used, unwrapped gift.” Though the sentiment behind this thought process can be noble, it’s important to understand that your body and sexuality are a gift to yourself before they’re a gift to anyone else. Valuing your purity for the sole purpose of pleasing your future spouse can cause you to internalize the idea that your body and energy only exist to be sacred to someone else and not sacred to you, something that could not be further from the truth. Understand that your body is your gift and it exists to mobilize your soul.

First and foremost, your body is your gift and it exists to mobilize your soul.

Learning to value your body because it’s important to you, not just your future spouse, can help to deepen your connection with your body, making it more likely you’ll make smart sexual choices. Some ways to deepen your relationship with your body include:

  • Practicing daily affirmations

  • Following a holistic lifestyle

  • Utilizing your body to move

  • Journaling your progress

  • Picking up new habits

  • Exercising and strengthening your body 

  • Learning about your cycle

  • Setting goals for yourself

  • Meditating 

Know That You Are More Than Your Purity

Many women have been raised to tie all of their worth to their purity. This might sound like a good thing to some, but the effects of placing all of your value in your purity (or in any one quality, really) can be disastrous. Believing that your entire worth is bound to your purity reinforces the idea that you have no inherent value outside your sexuality, essentially equating your body to a sex object. 

Many women end up internalizing this thought process, subconsciously telling themselves that the only thing that makes them worth being loved is their purity. So what happens if life happens and someone raised with this thought process ends up failing to maintain abstinence? They’re often left with a damaged view of their bodies. Maybe you’ve been there – you had sex with someone outside of marriage and you were left feeling crushed, embarrassed, dirty, and used afterward. If so, you’re not alone. 

Believing that your entire worth is bound to your purity essentially equates your body to a sex object.

Many women have expressed how sex has damaged their view of themselves, especially under the circumstances of being pressured. It’s not uncommon for women to have a negative relationship with their bodies and to lose their sense of self-worth after negative sexual experiences, but it shouldn’t have to be this way. Understand that you’re a human being, valuable and worthy of being cherished no matter what your purity status is. Life happens, mistakes happen, learn to accept this, and move forward with dignity, grace, and motivation to better yourself. We can’t change our past, but we always have the opportunity to pave the way for our future. Viewing your past as life lessons to learn and grow from can shift you from a shameful, defeated mindset to an empowered, motivated one.

Closing Thoughts

Women are often on the receiving end when it comes to shame and sexuality. Framing sexuality as something inherently dirty and shameful can damage the view women have of their bodies. It’s important that we teach young girls to value their bodies because it’s sacred to them, so they don’t tie their worth to another person. It’s helpful to teach women to accept their mistakes and misfortunes in order to learn from them, grow from them, and move past them. 

Ultimately, sexuality is a natural part of the human experience for both men and women. Accepting that sexuality is natural and can be healthily managed can help people to deepen their relationships with their body while encouraging them to make smart sexual choices.

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