13 Small Ways My Partner & I Show Body Positivity Toward One Another

People say breaking up is hard to do, but successfully sharing your life with another human and not mutilating the other in a fit of rage regarding an overflowing trash can is arguably just as trying. And another thing that's pretty difficult? Being body positive with your partner. In an ideal world, we'd all love our bodies all the time, thus enabling us to have the kind of romantic and/or sexual chemistry Blaire and Chuck exhibited IRL. Unfortunately, a culture that breeds body shaming doesn't normally allow for this, at least not all the time.

When I think back to the first time my current partner saw me partially naked over four years ago, and my only-half-joking request that he "stop playing with my [belly] poodge" (what I can only assume was my semi-drunken self's version of "pudge") after he grabbed the side of my tummy, I realize just how much my body positivity has been cultivated since then. Any romantic encounters back in "my day" often consisted of rooms with the lights off, a strategically placed limb in front of my stomach at all times, or general paranoia that my labia majora was just too fat, and no one would ever be able to find the actual vagina.

I feel pretty blessed in that these kinds of insecurities are long gone, and my partner and I have helped nurture each other's body positivity since then. But no matter how body positive you might be, external influences can sometimes get in the way of feeling yourself, and subsequently another person. So here are 13 small ways my partner and I show body positivity to one another to help avoid that happening.

1. Show Any Insecurities Some Love

Everyone has their "things." My partner is self-conscious about a mole he has above his lip, and as of lately, his nose (he thinks it's deforming). As for me, I have days when I can't stand my arms because they're "not proportional" to the rest of my body. Loving every inch of yourself 100 percent of the time isn't realistic. You can blame society for that one.

But rather than hide your aesthetic insecurities away, which will only give your brain more time to cultivate unnecessary disdain towards them, try to show them some love — or let your partner do so. Patrick will often specifically mention how cute my arms look in an outfit, and I try to compliment his nose or give it a peck if ever the moment strikes. It doesn't feel disingenuous, because chances are your paramour truly believes the things they're saying. And the more you hear positive reinforcement from one another, the more you're likely to take your partner's opinions to heart in ways that will benefit your own self-love.

2. Don't Be Afraid Of Drawing Attention To Conventionally "Unattractive" Areas Of Your Bodies

The reason I told Patrick to "stop playing with my poodge" all those years ago was because I'd been conditioned to believe that having anything that wasn't a flat stomach was wrong. It was undesirable, it was ugly, and it was something I should work hard to "fix." It never occurred to me that I was in bed with someone who must be attracted to me, because otherwise we wouldn't be in bed together. I just felt like he'd rather not have to see my "shame."

However, the more we've gotten to know each other, the more we've both expressed hardcore fondness over the parts of our bodies that social convention would probably deem unappealing. I love his chicken legs, for instance. And the fact that he has hobbit feet. He loves the fat on my body, tummy poodge included. The more upfront we are about these things, the less certain body parts have the potential to remain taboo.

3. Spend Time Naked

Provided you have curtains to keep the strangers at bay, I highly reccomend going about your daily activities with your partner in the nude. Nudity and body positivity can go hand in hand for a lot of people, and there are few greater self-love-inducing feelings than sharing a cup of coffee with your boo, buck naked on a faux velvet couch you got on Ebay.

Remember: Couples who watch Peep Show while nude together stay together.

4. Enjoy Different Kinds Of Meals Together

I'm sure that some people delight in couple's calorie counting as they monitor their miles walked on a fitness app, and that's cool. But if you're not that kind of couple, then chances are you both enjoy partaking in many different kinds of dining experiences.

To me, allowing myself to truly enjoy food despite living in a country that encourages people to feel bad for eating is always a hugely body pos practice. And I love the fact that my partner is just as willing to pop into a Taco Bell and the organic vegan place down the road on any given day. There's never any judgment or stigma attached to the food we eat. There's never any negative diet talk. Instead, there are just two people, experiencing self-love through the healing powers of a Volcano Burrito.

5. Exercise Together

There are plenty of ways to enjoy working out that are body positive, and have nothing to do with numbers on the scale or weight-related goals and expectations. But for me personally, finding the motivation to exercise on my own is difficult, even if I know I'm doing it because it makes me feel good mental health-wise and that it doesn't have to be about anything other than that.

But when I work out with my partner — even if only in the form of taking walks together or lifting some weights in the living room — I feel so much more encouraged. Plus, fitness is much more exciting when accompanied by pleasant conversation rather than that workout playlist you already listened to 40,000 times.

6. Try On Each Other's Clothes

You might not think a gal who weighs about 135 pounds more than her SO would be able to fit into said SO's T-shirts. But you'd be wrong. Even if I'd never sport those T-shirts out in public for fear of suffocation after prolonged wear, it's still fun to play dress-up. I especially love when my partner puts on my fur coats.

Clothes are a vehicle for empowerment for a lot of people, myself included. So being able to share fashion with my partner — even if neither of us would wear each other's outfits in front of other human beings — makes me feel like I'm sharing an aspect of my body positivity with them, too.

7. Shout-Out Other People You Find Attractive

For a lot of folks, body positivity goes hand in hand with sexuality. And sexuality often goes hand in hand with being attracted to other people. Even though I think monogamy can work for a lot of couples, I don't believe that being in a monogamous relationship means you cease to be attracted to anybody else. We're all only human, after all, and some of us have very inquisitive libidos. Rather than pretend you only have eyes for your partner, try to talk honestly about who you find attractive — be it an unattainable celebrity or the guy who sells you a bagel every morning. There are few things sexier and more body pos than owning up to your autonomy and sexuality.

If you and your partner are both bisexual or pansexual, the practice can actually be a whole lot more fun. You can compare notes, bond over how cute that actor was, and just delight in the silliness and subjectivity that is human attraction.

8. Don't Be Afraid Of Natural Bodily Functions

My sister-in-law used to make my brother go to the spare bathroom whenever he needed to poop so she wouldn't have to smell it. This was always confusing to me.

Everybody poops. Everybody farts. Everybody sweats. Everybody gets bad breath sometimes. Some of us squirt. Some of us don't. And that's just life as a human being.

Bodies are weird, y'all. They can be gross and perplexing and sometimes things get stuck in places they shouldn't. But if you can't poop in front of your partner or fish a Softcup out of them when the time comes, your life together is probably going to be more covered in red tape than you might think.

9. Take Ridiculous Selfies

Most Millennials understand the power of the selfie. The contemporary form of self-portraiture is one way of exercising total control over the way you present yourself to the world. But it's also a way of bonding with your partner.

As you grow older, I think it's incredibly important to take any and all opportunities for childish silliness that you can get. We're not often encouraged to "act like children" after a certain age, but part of being body positive is celebrating every weird angle and crazy face your body has at its disposal. To do so with someone you care about is even more fulfilling. In these silly selfies, you don't have to worry about how cute you look. You can just worry about how much fun you're having.

10. Experiment

A great way of getting to know both of your bodies in acute detail is simply to experiment with them. When you're with someone for a while, it's pretty standard to fall back on positions you know work. I know from experience that I've come home from a long day of work awake enough to be a little randy but not awake enough to want to, like, try that cool-sounding move I heard someone in the office kitchen talking about over Cheez-Its and coffee.

But "keeping the flame" alive is arguably of some importance, and not being afraid of new things is part of that. Experimenting with new positions or locations around your home is one way of reminding yourselves of the fun you can have with each other (and each other's bodies). And it usually doesn't take that much more time or effort than doing it in missionary before delving into the new episode of The Walking Dead would, TBH.

11. Jiggle Things

Real talk? Bodies usually jiggle. Unless you have, like, five percent body fat because you spend the majority of your time striving to cultivate your own set of Ryan Gosling-approved abs, I'm sure something on your body bobbles around. And that's OK!

At the risk of TMI-ing the Internet, I love having the squishiest parts of my body played with. Granted, most of my body is squishy, so that doesn't really narrow things down. But letting your partner express care and passion onto the specific areas that wobble in a way convention dictates is unappealing is hugely liberating. My advice? Join them in the wobbling.

12. Remember They've Seen Every Angle Anyway

Chances are your partner has seen your body from every position, angle, and side. And they obviously like what they're seeing. At the end of the day, there is very little point in trying to conceal, tuck, hide, or control-top parts of your body that they're already familiar with. All this does is create tension. You'll be feeling self-conscious, they'll pick up on it, and nobody will have a nice evening.

13. Don't Forget Masturbation

Whatever your thoughts are on GIRLS, I recently found myself catching up on the newest season. And there's this one scene in which Jessa and Adam are wanking next to each other on the couch because they've made some sort of no-actual-sex rule to avoid breaking the friend code against Hannah. And it kind of got me thinking about the importance of masturbation in a relationship.

It might sounder counter-intuitive to some. Why would you need to worry about pleasuring yourself when you have someone else to help do it for you? Except that chances are you've found some very particular ways of masturbating that are personal and unique to you — and that no one and nothing except your trusty hand could ever achieve.

Remembering to literally feel yourself from time to time is a way of showing your body some self-love in a hugely intimate way. Whether you do it on your own time, in front of your partner á la Jessa and Adam, or some combination of them both, try not to forget that the ability to show yourself care and love will hopefully inspire your partner to do the same for themselves.

Being intimate with another human being can be hard work, but maintaining body positive attitudes as a unit should hopefully make things go a little smoother. At the end of the day, you should both be able to delight in one another's companies and bodies in ways that feels safe, comfortable, and liberating. But the chances of this happening if one of you is holding onto internalized body shaming are minimal.

Want more body positivity? Check out the playlist below, and be sure to subscribe to Bustle's YouTube page for more inspo!

Images: Marie Southard Ospina (3); Andrew Zaeh/Bustle (1); glorifyobesity, beckyb, murderofgoths, abbilaura/Redbubble