Feeling distracted during sex?
Did you know that the biggest and strongest sexual organ is the brain? What’s happens in our mind during a sexual experience greatly affects the quality of sex we will have. If our minds are focusing on what needs to get done tomorrow or the dog barking outside, then we aren’t fully present and therefore aren’t experiencing the fullness of pleasure or connection we are capable of.
The first step in reining in a wandering brain, is to take notice of where the mind travels. Once we know where it’s going, then we can establish how to reroute its attention.
The Never Ending To Do List
Do you consider yourself a “doer” or a “planer”? Always being productive or thinking ahead? Do you have a continuous list in your head of all the things that need to get done? Do you find yourself constantly reassessing and adding to this dense list, even during sex? Maybe you tell yourself, “I have to because if I don’t who will? It won’t get done.” Your world continues to spin with efficiency and order because of your productivity AND you deserve a break.
If you can notice that you are becoming focused on your list during sex, try taking a full deep breath and tell yourself “I deserve this break, this time to be focused on my body and these sensations. I am setting my list aside and it will be there when this moment is complete. Right now I will give my brain some time off from my list.”
If we can set aside the to do list, then some might be faced with another endless list all things we dislike about our bodies. The vulnerability that exists in sex often requires seeing your body in a more intimate way or knowing that your partner is seeing new parts of your body. The brain then focuses on covering up unfavorable body parts, ensuring dim lighting, or questioning what your partner thinks of your body. It’s difficult to make love when you can’t feel or accept love for the body you are in.
Body love is a challenging place to get to. It takes time and continued, intentional effort to sort through the negative, shameful messages we receive about our bodies. When self-love feels impossible, body acceptance or neutrality might be a more attainable destination.
“Is my body performing like it should be?” “Will I last long enough?” “Are they enjoying it?” “Am I taking too long?” When these thoughts pop up in the mind, it leads to a place of insecurity, uncertainty, self-doubt, and anxiety. These thoughts take us out of the moment of pleasure and into a place of fear.
Do you find yourself preoccupied with distracting noises or pets moving around? Maybe you’re feeling concern around someone hearing you or your kids walking in. Is the TV on and that’s a distraction or does the silence mixed with the noises of sex feel uncomfortable. Do you feel cold with the fan on or maybe feel uncomfortably hot? Once our brains decide that something is distracting, it can be very hard to not notice that stimulation.
What Can I Do?
Practicing Mindfulness. Regularly practicing mindfulness meditations gives us more control over our wandering brains and helps train the brain to stay focused where we want it to be focused. During a sexual experience, if you notice your mind on a distracting thought, bring the attention back to the sensations of the body. As you take full deep breathes, imagine sending your breathe to different parts of the body. Take notice of the way touch feels, focusing on the temperature, texture, and pressure of touch.
Set the mood. Before having a sexual experience, take time to create a space that feels welcoming of desire. Lighting candles, setting a comfortable temperature, playing music, ensuring pets and children are take care of, all help the brain get acclimated to the sexual atmosphere.
Advocate for your pleasure. If something is distracting or bothering you, do something about it. Taking the “just push through it” approach limits the pleasure you will experience and your pleasure matters. Take a moment to quiet the distracting noise and then jump right back into the sexual atmosphere.
Be honest. If you are having sex with a partner, then share with them the distracting thoughts you are having, both outside of the sexual experience and during, as it occurs. Try to be open about what you need in order to be present and how they can support you.
Be patient with yourself. It takes time to train our brain and vulnerability to share our needs with a partner. We are trained to be multitaskers, and therefore we may struggle to bring present focus to one activity. It takes time and continued practice. Have empathy and be patient with yourself.
*A note on trauma and pain. If, during a sexual experience, you find yourself distracted by traumatic memories resurfacing or feel numb or feel yourself separating from the moment and/or your body, you might be experiencing a defense mechanism the brain uses to cope with trauma. If you feel pain during sexual touch, it will be very difficult to feel pleasure or be present in the moment as your mind is trying to respond to the pain. If you relate to this, know that you are not alone, you are not broken and there is help available to you. For more information on available services in and outside of our practice, call the Enhancing Intimacy office at (512) 994-2588.
Skylar Naron is an LPC- Associate, passionate about helping people let go of shame in order to feel a greater sense of self-love. Her clients may be experiencing body image issues, pain during sex, religious sexual shame, a loss of intimacy, or sexual anxiety. Skylar empowers her clients to let go of negative thoughts patterns in order to adopt new affirming beliefs about themselves. She believes in the healing power of mindfulness practices and implements these techniques into her work with clients.
If you are interested in working with Skylar, you can schedule an appointment online or call the office at 512-994-2588 and ask to be scheduled with Skylar.