When it comes to feeling distracted or being on auto-pilot, most of us are experts. We spend our whole lives juggling homes, jobs, goals, and relationships of all descriptions. But while you may be well aware this isn't good for your sleep and stress levels, are you aware of the impact it has on your sexual pleasure?
The Importance of Being Sexually Present
Great sex involves communication, connection (even if just for the moment), and sensation. You can have perfectly mediocre sex running through your grocery list in your head, but the only way to have truly great sex is to be present for it.
Along with how hard it can be to just focus, you might also be fighting negative thoughts that can creep in during sex. Wondering about sexual performance, body image, and self-consciousness can make it harder to let go. You might even get trapped in a loop of having an anxious thought and then feeling bad for having the anxious thought. For instance, “Am I doing this right? Why am I worrying about doing this right? I feel bad for worrying about doing this right. Does that mean that I’m not doing this right?”
Sex, like anything else in life, is best enjoyed without distractions whether physical or mental. Think about the last time you ate while you were in a rush. Did you savor every bite? Likely not. Sex is no different.
Which is why one of the most important steps to experiencing greater sexual pleasure in bed is simply learning to focus on what you feel, and not on what you think. When you slow down and allow those physical sensations of pleasure to come to the surface, you can really transform your whole experience of sex.
First, Minimize Distractions
It’s easier to minimize distractions in your surroundings than it is to minimize distractions in your head, so start there. Declutter, tidy, and put away. Set your phone to do-not-disturb mode. If your bedroom doubles as a home office, use do-not-disturb mode on any work devices and close or tuck away any work materials you can. If you live with any humans or pets who might barge in, give yourself the gift of a lock on your bedroom door. A white noise machine or playing music can help to reduce outside noise. Try to eliminate anything that could distract you.
Get everything you might need for sex ready, too. Clean and charge your sex toys, and have a backup or two just in case. Make sure there’s plenty of lube within reach along with extra safer sex supplies. Figure out where your towel is. Get a glass of water. The goal is to have everything you need available so you can stay as in-the-moment as possible.
Then, Train Your Brain to Focus
Building your ability to focus on sensation and stay sexually present takes longer but is so worth it. Try working a simple mindfulness exercise into your day.
For instance, every day in the shower, take 30 seconds to take a deep breath, exhale, and pay attention to the way the water feels against your skin and sounds as it lands on the shower floor. You can also practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth.
Such mindfulness exercises support your overall health, help with focus, reduce stress and spiraling, and can even help with relationship satisfaction, according to an article in the American Psychological Association’s Monitor on Psychology. They can also help with sex.
How to Get Back into the Moment
Even with a regular mindfulness practice, it can be hard to stay present for every moment during sex.
Lover co-founder and clinical psychologist Dr. Britney Blair likes to suggest the temperature, texture, and pressure (TTP) method. Whenever you get distracted during sex, pick one of TTP and focus on your experience of that sensation. It’s a quick and easy way to drop away from your racing thoughts and back into the sensations of sex.
Of course, practice makes perfect. Try it out during solo sex and notice not only the sensations in your body, but how your overall experience shifts towards pleasure. When you’re more used to it, try it out during partnered sex, too. You might be surprised at how different sex and connection feel when you’re more present for them.
Want to learn more about staying present for pleasure? Download the Lover app to get more detailed advice and support towards living your best sex life.