When your mind gets in the way of good sex
When it comes to intimacy, we almost always focus on the physical aspects with the belief that as long as our sex organs are performing up to par, everything will be fine. Men may worry about their ability in achieving an erection or experiencing premature ejaculation while women may worry about vaginal dryness or pain during sex. These are certainly a few of the physical reasons why intimacy may not go as planned.
However, what about the nonphysical aspects of sex getting in the way of a good sex life? The situations we don’t anticipate that can turn good sex into a cascade of bad vibes. This time your sex organs “down there” have nothing to do with it - it’s your mind.
The mind – our brain – is actually our body’s most important sex organ. If our mind is swirling with worry, anxiety or other factors, this can snuff out a good sex life quicker than turning off the lights at night.
Here are 5 things triggering those mind-related reactions affecting sex and what you can do about it:
Talk about a sex killer. Stress comes in waves. Some days we feel footloose and fancy free while other days it feels like we’re holding up the entire world on our own. Stress runs the gamut from financial worries, raising children, taking care of elderly parents, health concerns, personal relationship issues and so on. When our mind is focused on the worries of the day, sex often gets put on the backburner.
What to do:
Acknowledge stress will happen. Learn and practice ways to relieve stress and know that this too shall pass.
2. Performance anxiety
Both men and women can get hit with sudden jitters over their bedroom performance. Men can be particularly smacked with performance anxiety as they age. Issues of erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation can cause a great deal of worry making sex no longer enjoyable for either partner. Women may have concerns with lack of lubrication making sex painful.
What to do:
Any kind of a physical problem affecting your sex life needs to be addressed with your physician. There are many solutions for fixing these issues helping to take away performance anxiety.
3. Trouble brewing within a relationship
Anytime there is any sort of tension, conflicts, or arguing between a couple, sex will suffer. Squabbles or disagreements over finances, child-rearing, or how to spend time off from work may be some reasons for disputes that spill over into negatively affecting a couple’s sex life.
What to do:
Being in a relationship is a balance of give and take. Develop better communication skills and learn how to stay calm when discussing things you disagree on. Showing more empathy and learning the lost art of listening helping our partner to feel heard and understood, is when we become an effective communicator dissipating disputes.
4. Poor body image or self-esteem
A big part of feeling sexy and in the mood stems from how we feel about ourselves. When we look good on the outside and feel good about who we are as a person on the inside, sex tends to follow. But when we look in the mirror and see a less than desirable person, sex may be the last thing on our mind. Feelings of unattractiveness or poor self-esteem will not be inspirational for wanting to make love.
What to do:
If body image is the issue, work on getting into better shape. Start an exercise program, make healthier food choices, stop smoking and get more sleep. It’s not all about looks but also about getting healthier. If self-esteem is the problem, then working with a life coach, seeing a therapist or discovering what it is you enjoy doing can help build confidence you need.
5. Our family and social upbringing
Each one of us brings baggage to the bedroom. Based on our religious background, culture, family dynamics, and our peers, all of these past experiences shape our attitude towards sex. If we were raised in a household showing love and respect for another, this supports a more likely healthy enjoyment of sex. But if our background was grounded in fear, jealousy, or not knowing what a loving relationship looks like, this can jade our view of what a fulfilling, sexual relationship can be.
What to do:
We can’t change our upbringing, but we can work on changing our attitudes. If being able to move forward away from how we were raised is difficult, seek help. Sex therapists who often hold degrees in marriage and family therapy, social work or psychology, are trained to address issues of mistrust and work through emotional issues contributing to sexual problems. They can help guide you and your partner to participate together on how to boost your bond in and out of the bedroom.