Sometimes sex isn’t just sex. Sex can also be a way to get a deeper look at your brain and its relationship with pleasure. If you feel disconnected from sex, it could be because of how you receive pleasure. Many different things can happen when you are feeling sexual gratification. You may have another emotion that disrupts it, like fear, rage, grief, or something else that exchanges a uniting, intimate feeling for something negative. When your defenses are triggered, your focus is usurped and placed on something else entirely.
So, let’s talk about why pleasure is important and how to get more of it.
Your Brain and Pleasure
Most people have some unhealthy reactions that arise whenever something goes wrong, and these reactions can affect your sex life, too. Which reactions you have will depend on a combination of biology and your past experiences. But when things go wrong, a significant portion of people will respond with anger, panic, grief, or some combination. Unless you work through these subconscious, instantaneous responses that happen in your brain, you’re bound to feel the consequences in the bedroom.
For instance, if you’re having amazing, connected sex with your partner, sometimes sex will bring up other emotions as well. You might remember a fight you had a long time ago or even something completely unrelated to your partner. This experience is very common for many people but especially women. Even though you’re currently enjoying sex, the mood is hijacked by a response in your brain, and it can make having an orgasm seem impossible.
The good news is that you can train your brain to stay focused on the current moment so that other thoughts don’t relentlessly steal your pleasure.
Reconnecting With Your Pleasure
One way to train your brain to receive pleasure is to get good at sexual self-touch. When you can touch yourself and reach orgasm alone, your brain creates pathways to pleasure that it will remember so that you can access them in the future.
Next, it’s essential to become well-acquainted with your fantasies. If you know what you like and it’s easy to turn yourself on, your brain has an easier time getting turned on in general. It’s also a good idea to consider fantasies that you haven’t had before. Relying on just one idea can be limiting, so it’s better to have a few scenarios that you like. Use your creativity and expand what you find arousing if you can. Magnifying what you find erotic can open up a whole new world of sexual pleasure.
Practicing Emotion Regulation
Good sex doesn’t happen unless you are relaxed and feel safe. Safety is the only situation in which you can feel playful, flirty, and sexy. Otherwise, your brain will naturally focus on what is bothering you, whether it’s that your relationship doesn’t feel safe, your body, or something else entirely. If your brain has a habit of triggering your negative emotions even when you feel safe, it’s vital to practice ways of calming yourself down.
If you have a patient partner, let them know what is happening inside your head when you start thinking about unsexy things. Take a break from sex for a minute until you can re-focus on it and tune into the sensations in your body.
If you can have some connected, empathetic sexual experiences where you acknowledge the thoughts you’re having, deal with them, and then get back into sex, your brain will learn that these reactions aren’t so scary. Then, you won’t have additional, compounded anxiety about getting distracted during sex. You’ll realize that you can take some time to be mindful and that sex can be satisfying in spite of these reactions. The less power they hold, the less they may spontaneously arise.
Want More Tips?
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Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform. Join her for her online course for couples in long-term relationships, Bedroom Fizzle to Sizzle, by clicking here.