Your boss saddled you with a mind-numbing project, you forgot to pay your credit card bill and you can’t squeeze into your favorite skinny jeans. That’s a lot to think about. So it’s no surprise that when you climb into bed and your guy wants to have sex, it’s all you can think about.
“Women's distractibility is more likely to be associated with the estrogen system and basic differences in male and female brain architecture,” explains Helen Fisher, Ph.D., author of “Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love.” “The female brain has more long distance connections, so they take in more data from more regions of the brain at once, which can lead to being distracted.”
It goes back to pre-historic times (doesn’t it always?), when people needed to stay slightly distracted while they had sex in case a predator was lurking. “So one of the two partners had to be more vigilant of the surroundings,” notes Fisher. “This was most likely women. Women also needed to be more conscious of the whereabouts of their children, so women seem to be, by nature, more distractible than men.”
But there’s a big payoff to staying in the moment: Women who are able to do so report higher levels of arousal and sexual satisfaction—and who wouldn’t want that?
Follow these five tips to staying connected (and satisfied) during sex.
1. Address distractions—and then move on.
Your guy is doing that thing with his hips that usually sends you soaring, but then you suddenly remember that you didn’t send that important email on Friday and the client’s going to be pissed. Your orgasm? M.I.A. It’s a common scenario.
Research published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that people frequently had non-erotic thoughts during sex. So how can you shut them out? It sounds counterintuitive, but when an intrusive thought pops up during sex, the best way to banish it is to address the thought head on, according to sex researcher Elisabeth Lloyd, Ph.D., a professor of history and philosophy of science at Indiana University. If you suddenly remember that you didn’t do X, Y and Z, acknowledge it, then mentally store it on a “not now” list to be picked up after sex, suggests Lloyd. That way, you’re not suppressing it—you’re just putting it aside to be dealt with later.
2. Don’t switch positions.
There’s a time and a place for acrobatic sex, but in order to stay present during sex—a key component to orgasm for women—if something feels good, just keep at it, suggests Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., author of “Sex Made Easy: Your Awkward Questions Answered—For Better, Smarter, Amazing Sex.”
Instead of abruptly switching positions, which can squash your sexual momentum, stick to steady, rhythmic stokes. “It’s unclear why, but continuous movement may help women ignore outside distractions and focus on sensation,” explains Herbenick. You’ll train your brain and body to melt into a pleasurable trance, which will help you maintain the sexy moment.
3. Stop stressing about your body.
Wondering if he can tell you’re overdue for a bikini wax or twisting your body into a uncomfortable position just because it flattens your stomach has an unsexy two-pronged effect: Trying to hide your flaws will lead you down a rabbit hole of distraction, diluting any pleasure you’re receiving.
If you’re feeling self-conscious, you could always leave on sexy babydoll lingerie and light some candles, but you’re better off just closing your eyes and focusing on how amazing sex feels. The good news: It’s unlikely he’s examining you for flaws anyway. Surprising research conducted by Emory University found that men are more likely to first look at a woman’s face. “This was surprising to us as we thought certainly breasts or genitals would be first,” says study co-author, Kim Wallen, Ph.D., professor of psychology and behavioral neuroendocrinology. “However, when we asked the men why the face first, they said, ‘I wanted to know if she was enjoying it.’”
In other words, men want to make sure you’re turned on and enjoying the moment. Of course, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t also take a gander at your breasts, but let’s state the obvious here: You’re having sex so clearly, he already likes your body just the way it is.
4. Employ your five senses.
When you taste a gooey dessert, smell an intoxicating fragrance or soak in a steaming bath, you use several, if not all, of your five basic senses (smell, taste, sight, sound and touch) to enjoy the experience. So why neglect them during sex—especially when you need them the most? “Tuning into your senses allows you to stay present and connected because sex becomes an intimate, full-body event, rather than a performance,” says Gina Ogden, Ph.D., author of “The Return of Desire: A Guide to Rediscovering Your Sexual Passion.” So take your pick: Inhale his scent emanating from the crook of his neck, gaze into his eyes or concentrate on how your bodies feel against each other.
5. Speak up.
“When a position or move isn’t working for you, communicate your thoughts, otherwise they just scream louder in your head,” says Sadie Allison, a sex therapist in San Francisco, CA. “The result is a distracted state of mind because you’re sucking up your feelings, which can ruin the whole sexual experience.”
Try saying something positive and constructive like, ‘Can you do that thing you were doing before?’ to get your point heard—and your pleasure back on track.
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