Do you ever find yourself thinking about other things during sex? Do those thoughts distract you from staying tuned in to the sensation of your partner’s body against yours? This is called a cognitive distraction, which has been associated with low sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction...and many faked orgasms.
Experiencing extreme distraction and even complete disconnection during sex isn't uncommon, but as you've noticed it takes a toll on your sex life. Your sex drive might suffer, and possibly, your mental health as well.
Solutions to Disconnected Sex
Mindfulness practices are some of the best tools we have for helping us stay present during sex. Mindfulness is the practice of noticing what’s going on in your body and thoughts, without judging or becoming distracted by them. Multiple studies suggest that using mindfulness practices can enhance our experience of desire, arousal, and pleasure.
How to be Mindful During Sex
One technique is "Body mapping". Body mapping is used to better understand your body and its many erogenous zones. You can use this exercise to familiarize yourself with every inch of yourself. Becoming more aware of how each part feels, senses, and moves.
During a body mapping exercise, you mentally and physically chart out how each part of your body responds to different sensations. Using the mindfulness technique of acceptance and your body map, your goal is to find parts of your body that resonate with pleasure or don't.
“[Body Mapping] is bringing awareness to the different parts of the body and the sensations you experience. A lot of people don’t realize [that for them] their earlobes sucked on feels great but having a tongue in their ear is a no,” says Dr. Britney Blair, clinical psychologist, and Lover co-founder.
Staying Present During Sex
Mindfulness can also help you with communication. According to a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, respondents who were more open with their partners about their sexual preferences were more sexually satisfied than those who were closed off. To begin communicating what you like, you need to learn about your body. Body mapping can help you learn what you like and then inform your partner what types of touch make you feel good. Directing them away from touch that bothers you, and towards erogenous zones that work for you.
“Couples love this. It basically gives them a pleasure map to then provide to their partner,” Dr. Blair says. While charting your course to pleasure, this exercise also enables you to be super specific about your preferences in partnered sex, solo sex, and your personal fantasy life.
Often gender stereotypes tell us what we are “supposed to” like during sex. This can also happen when you feel obligated to go along with what your partner likes in bed, or what they assume you like. This sometimes leads to our bodies shutting off, and our minds wandering away from what we are experiencing. That's why doctors like Dr. Blair recommend body mapping, which can help you keep attention on yourself and what you actually like during sex.
The experimentation and exploration of body mapping can make it easier to try different things and talk about what you experience.
Body mapping sounds simple, but it can be the difference between bad sex and good sex, and between good sex and great sex. It can enrich your sexual health, reduce stress, and help you be present in the moment. Here’s how to begin.
A Quick Body Mapping Exercise
Before you begin, make sure you are in a distraction-free environment. Give yourself enough time to avoid feeling rushed. Set electronic devices to "Do Not Disturb", take off your smartwatch, and Get comfortable. And naked.
Whether you’re with a partner or by yourself, agree that genitals and/or breasts are off-limits for this exercise. Then, set a timer for just five minutes. Start at the top of your head and move downwards.
“What does it feel like when your hair is pulled? What does a kiss on the forehead feel like? Work your way down the entire body to explore each sensation,” Dr. Blair says. Stroking, pinching, caressing, (enthusiastically consensual) slapping, and kissing can all be part of the sensations you try out. Vary the intensity, rhythm, pressure, and body parts involved to see what feels good.
If you’re body mapping with a partner, verbal feedback is key. Using a scale of one to five, where one is “nope” and five is “hell yes”. Make sure your partner is aware that the rating is about the touch and not a reflection of your partner or their technique. You’re exploring and sensing without judgment.
If you’re body mapping solo, use the rating scale to check in with yourself and your body. If not, try to simply observe what you feel and how much you like it.
When the timer goes off, turn it off and switch turns if you’re with a partner, or take a break. You can also try a longer guided tour, like "The Body Tour" activity in the Lover app. Over time, body mapping will help you draw a specific, detailed map that could lead you to the best sex of your life.
Want more tips to spice up your sex life? Download the Lover app and try out the Turn-Ons Game with your partner as the ultimate ice-breaker to explore fantasies. With hundreds of sexy scenarios to choose from, you'll be busy all night long!