Lackluster Libido Can Lower Self-Esteem (and Vice Versa!)
According to Woman's Day Magazine, the average adult has sex roughly 103 times per year. While this statistic might seem a little low to some readers, it might make others feel somewhat inadequate. Infrequent sex between couples is often the result of a lackluster libido in one or both partners. While a low sex drive can result from chronic disease, hormonal changes or taking certain medications, in most cases it stems from psychological factors like anxiety, depression, stress or low self-esteem.
What people may not realize is that libido and self-esteem are interconnected: Low libido can actually lower self-esteem. On the flipside, research shows that happier people think more often about sex than unhappy people, and confident people have better sex. While a man's self-esteem frequently hinges on his work and financial situation, a woman's self-image is often tied to perceived physical appearance. Healthy self-esteem starts with an appreciation for who you are and the ability to embrace the good and the bad. Here are a few ways to get started building self-esteem and boosting libido.
Working out, eating healthy, not smoking, wearing makeup and dressing well can all boost self-image and raise a lower self-esteem. As self-esteem rises, so might the libido. Periodically take an inventory of your wardrobe. If clothing doesn't make you feel attractive, donate it to your local charitable thrift store.
Engage in non-sexual bonding.
Hugging, kissing and holding hands trigger the release of oxytocin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland, which facilitates bonding. The more oxytocin released, the more couples may want to take intimate activities further.
Have more sex… even if you don't particularly want to.
It's hard to feel sexy when self-esteem is dwindling, but sometimes having sex begets more sex. According to Ian Kerner, PhD, a sex and relationship expert, women who have sex at least once a week experience a boost in testosterone levels, which can lead to a more robust libido and help banish lower self-esteem.
Choose a respectful and loving partner.
While people should never attach self-esteem to another person, it is important to choose the right partner. A relationship with an insensitive partner who is incapable of nurturing will virtually guarantee lower self-esteem.
Treat yourself special.
A good self-image begins with the way you treat yourself. Give yourself small gifts on a regular basis. A delicious meal on the "good china," a scented bubble bath, or a manicure can elevate mood and change perspective.
Try not to compare yourself to others.
Think of how boring life would be if we were all the same. Instead of striving to look or be like someone else, focus on being the best version of you. Try to ignore how the media depicts men and women in terms of success and attractiveness. Understand that the majority of television programs and ads are not representative of most people.
When couples open themselves up to vulnerability and discuss feelings, it often results in greater intimacy and improved self-esteem for one or both partners. On a regular basis, make time to be alone in a stress-free environment for talk, cuddling and more.
Sometimes libido is sky high, and other times it's not. It helps to remind ourselves that this is normal. Work on keeping a relationship friendly, loving and respectful throughout the highs and lows.
Let go of the negative.
Forgive your past mistakes and focus on the positive. Attach a favorite photo of yourself to a sheet of paper and make a list of your accomplishments and good qualities. Post your list where you will see it on a regular basis.
Even when you don't feel like it, smiling may move the brain toward innate happiness. Studies have found that intentional smiling can set off chemical reactions in the left hemisphere of the brain, sometimes referred to as the "happy zone."
Pursue a passion.
Following your heart's desire can offer a sense of purpose and significantly boost your quality of life. Whether a hobby, a volunteer project or a new career, pursuing passion pushes people to become better at something and allows for learning new things. Meaningful work (whether you are paid for it or not) keeps the mind happy and nimble throughout life.
Self-image plays a key part in the ability to maintain close relationships and enjoy sex. People who are struggling with a low self-image can take advantage of the tips above to boost self-esteem and libido. Those who need additional help may want to seek the advice of a therapist specifically trained in this area.
By guest contributor Jillian Fritsen