Dear Dr. G,

I understand you usually address issues related sex raised by guys. As it takes two to tango (and in sex), I hope you will give exception and answer my concerns when it comes to lovemaking with my husband.

I am thirty-five years old mother of two. My husband (who is same age as me) and I have been married for three years, and we enjoy an active sex life like most young couples.

In the past few months, something peculiar has happened in our relationship. I have noticed my husband gets distracted very easily during sex. Sometimes even to the extent of him losing his erection, and we have to start the foreplay from scratch to get back into the mood.

When I confronted him about this, he initially denied the matter. When it happened so often, then he just said he has a lot in his mind.

I am hoping to put Dr. G on the spot about men distracted in sex.

Is it common for couples to get distracted during intimacy? Are men or women more prone to such distraction? I imagine women would be more distracted, especially having to deal with so many things in life?

What exactly is so important that will distract men from sexual activities? Is he losing interest in me?

Lastly, how can I help to bring back the undivided attention of the distracted Dave?

Yours truly,
Disappointed Daisy

Sex is like any other life activity, and one can be distracted due to various reasons. When there is distraction during sex, it will not just compromise on performance, it can often create dissatisfaction and disappointment for couples. In fact, distractions during sex are common and can occur in both genders. It is often believed men and women have different sources of distraction.

In women, the common negative thoughts leading to distraction are maybe guilt or diminished sexual arousal, which in turn produces anxiety and distraction. In men, the digression from arousal is linked to other issues in their minds. That can be trivial matters such as football scores or work worries that renders the loss of focus, leading to loss of arousal and erection.

Research has also reiterated the etiology of male and female distractions during sex. Men tend to get distracted when they think their performance is not making the mark, leading to diminished erectile rigidity and loss of focus.

Women lose concentration with bodily image and appearance, which is more pronounced in women with lower self-confidence. The common causes in both genders that distract couples during sex are conflict in relationship, pain during sex and fear of sexual adversity such as unwanted pregnancy.

It is difficult to determine which gender is more prone to going out of focus during sex. One Canadian study examining NET (Non-Erotic Thoughts) of 81 women and 71 men with stable long-term relationship; discovered similar obstacles faced by both genders. In another study from Las Vegas, comparing 220 college men and 237 women on self-reported cognitive distraction during sex, both gender analyses revealed women reported higher levels of distraction. The study reiterated women are distracted by negative bodily image and not being in a relationship. In men, performance-related distraction is more common.

Distraction in sex can induce negative impact on satisfaction and relationship. One Finnish study examined reasons for why around 25% of women not reaching climax during penetrative intercourse. In the study that examined 7,000 women and 1,000 men on orgasm, the researcher highlighted one of the reasons for women failing to achieve climax was due to distraction.

Cognitive-behavioural approach to relax couples during sex, and sexual education to debunk the sexual myths, can help couples to stay focus throughout. Appropriate sexual education helps to dispel fear and shame that may instil negative thoughts during intercourse.

Open communication also helps to manage expectation that sex does not have to be great each time, which allows couples to relax and enjoy the experience without burdensome anticipation. Other therapists also advocate the practice of mindfulness. Paying attention in a particular way on the purpose in any present moment will help couples to stay focus.

The practice of sexual mindfulness is in keeping with the principles of tantric sex when couples are kept being “fully present” and stay attentive to enhance erotic moments. This is believed to reduce “distractive cognitive noise” that can inhibit sexual arousal and pleasure, rendering performance dysfunction.

Ramana Maharshi, the Indian Sage who has attained wisdom once said: “When there are thoughts, it is distraction; when there are no thoughts, it is meditation.” It is not uncommon for couples to be distracted by “background noises of life”, especially the sexual excitement has diminished over a long period of a relationship. Ignoring such distractions during sex can inevitably affect the relationship, leading to avoidance of intimacy.

When Dr. G is put on the spot by disappointed Daisy because Distracted Dave is getting out of focus. His opinion is “Start with no thoughts and meditate before sex. When embarking on sex, mindfully focus on the love, rather than the lovemaking. Soon enough, the distraction of life will just be the thing of the past, that will lead to happy endings!”

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