The biggest fight Xander and I ever had

March 31,2020

Confession time…

Want to know one of the biggest fights Xander and I have ever had?

It was about working out. 

It was around 2016, and I was starting a new phase of my body journey. After dealing with chronic pain from a car accident in 2013, I had started working out again, and reconnecting with a body that had been feeling like my enemy for years. 

After a few months, I started feeling great about my body. 

So great that I started shifting my attention to Xander’s body. 

I’d witnessed some of Xander’s struggles with his body over the years, and I wanted him to have the same kind of transformative experience I was having.

My intentions were good, and my enthusiasm was high, but my delivery… 

… was terrible. 

I ended up making Xander feel self-conscious and ashamed about his own relationship with his body, and pressured to change.

It might sound silly that one of our biggest fights was over working out, but I just didn’t realize how badly my attempts to support Xander were backfiring. 

I learned some hard but valuable lessons during that period of time, and I want to share those lessons with you today.

We all have our own challenges when it comes to body confidence, so it’s likely that your partner (current or future) has a complicated relationship with their body. And as someone who loves them, it’s probably hard for you to see your partner struggle!

So we’re going to talk about the right way to support your partner – or any other important person in your life – with developing better body confidence.

Tip #1 – Don’t pressure your partner to change

Perhaps the most important lesson I learned is that we have to let our loved ones have their own body journeys. 

Deciding to improve your relationship with your body is such a personal decision. It’s just not going to work if you are feeling pressured or guilted into it. 

If I could go back in time, I would have just worked on my own relationship with my body, and not tried to get Xander to work on his. 

When you see a loved one struggling with their body, of course it’s natural to want something different for them. But we have to create the space for them to feel that desire for change on their own.

Ironically, Xander says if I hadn’t pushed him to work on his relationship with his body, he probably would have been inspired watching my journey, and felt the natural desire to start his even sooner (you can read all about Xander’s own body confidence/fitness journey here)!

Tip #2 – Lead with compassion

When I pressured Xander to work on his relationship with his body, I missed an opportunity to connect with him over what it’s like to struggle with body confidence.

If you want your partner or a loved one to improve their relationship with their body, you have to start by talking about where they are right at this current moment.

And since we all have our challenges when it comes to body confidence, there’s definitely something there for you to connect over.

Maybe you understand what it’s like to be in chronic pain, or to feel pressure to live up to societal standards. 

Try sharing your story of the challenges you’re going through or have gone through, and see how that opens up an entirely different conversation. 

Tip #3 – Show them their body through your eyes

We’re all our own harshest critics, especially when it comes to our bodies. 

Odds are that you see your partner’s body in a much more positive light than they’re currently able to.

That is a gift that you can share with your partner!

Give them specific compliments about the parts of their body you love, and why you love those parts.

You may even discover that the areas your partner hates about their body are actually the parts you love the most!

Tip #4 – Help them see the possibilities

Your partner may be so stuck in their challenges with their body that they don’t even realize that things could be different. 

One way you can support your partner is by showing them what life and your relationship could look like without all of the body stress.

You have to be gentle here, since it’s not like your loved one can just snap their fingers and rid themselves of their body issues. But helping them see the possibilities can be really powerful.

For example, you could say, “I know you get self conscious having the lights on when we’re having sex, but I can’t help but think about how close to you I feel when I get to see all of you. It makes me love you even more!”


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I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!