Self-Injury Scars and Sexual Intimacy
Recently, I was asked to address the topic of self-injury and sexual intimacy. More specifically -- being ashamed of your body due to self injury cuts, burns or scars and having to shy away from intimate relationships, or face possible rejection by a sexual partner should they see them. In this blog, I will address ways to deal with this type of situation.
In my article on "Self-Injury and Relationships", I created a bullet-point list detailing how to tell your partner that you self-injure. There are other handy guides on HealthyPlace like this one: "Explaining Self-Harm Scars to Others". But, as we all know, telling someone about your self-injury is only half the battle because you never know how the other person will react. However, it is different in romantic relationships; because there's the added pressure of them seeing your self-harm cuts, burns or scars if you're intimate with each other.
Disclosing Self-Injury Before Sexual Relationship
Before you go that far, you should ask yourself whether or not you are comfortable with your partner (people in committed relationships are going to be more comfortable than people in non-committed relationships or new relationships) and whether or not taking your relationship to a sexual level is something you are comfortable with, and ready for. If the answer is yes, then the next thing you should think about is how you want to disclose your self-injury to your partner. While ignoring it and hoping they will not notice is generally the most popular option, it can cause tension and make you uncomfortable if you are constantly worrying whether or not your scars are showing. The best route is to tell your partner before your relationship gets to that level. This way, there are no secrets and no chance of an awkward or uncomfortable situation for either of you.
If you are too ashamed to sit your partner down and explain your self-injury behaviors and/or scars with them, then chances are you aren't ready for a sexual relationship - and you should wait until you feel more comfortable. On the flip-side, if you decide to tell your partner and they aren't supportive; then you will know they weren't the right person to pursue a relationship of any kind with anyway.
Self-Injury and Acceptance
Remember that you are in control of your relationships, intimate or otherwise. You have a right to feel comfortable and not to feel pressured into an intimate relationship if you are uncomfortable about your injuries or scars. You are worth having a partner who will not only accept you as you are, but also support you in a healthy way. Sexual relationships are a big step, and they should only happen when you feel ready and comfortable with your partner, and your body.
Thank you for the great question, suggestions for blogs and videos are always welcome!
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Stewart, C. (2012, December 2). Self-Injury Scars and Sexual Intimacy, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/speakingoutaboutselfinjury/2012/12/self-injury-scars-and-sexual-intimacy
Author: Christie Stewart
What do you suggest if the cuts are cuts and not scars and you are not interested in a serious relationship but you don't want the cuts to keep you from having sex.
ugh my scars are the reason I'm so scared of sex
I feel like every guy will be turned off. they're deep and everywhere too.
Great points Christie. I think the fear of being judged is often far worse than actually disclosing current or past SI. And I think your point about not letting a relationship progress if your shame about SI is stronger than your than your need to disclose, is a double edged sword that can keeps us in shame and loneliness far too long.