Sex is great! But sex without anxiety is even better. As helpful as stress can be in moderate amounts, add another person, take away the clothes and it becomes a situation that may prove a breeding ground (pun-intended) for anxiety.
Especially in Indian culture, the notion of sex is attached with shame and is only supposed to occur post marriage. Insensitive terms like “slut” or “prude” are often attached to people for showing “too much” or “too little” interest in sex. Notions of a man’s “manhood” are enmeshed with how they perform in bed or what their genitalia looks like. Unhelpful beliefs and unrealistic expectations may also be picked up from places like sexually explicit films and books further add on to pre-existing societal disdain. Beliefs like “I should look a certain way to be desirable” or “If it doesn’t look like in the movies, I’m doing it wrong”. All the various permutations and combinations of these beliefs (or some version thereof) nestle within us. Dormant until, well, until it is too late. Not only do these beliefs hamper our experience, it adds another layer of pressure that we unknowingly put on ourselves. Pressure may be good for carbon, but no diamonds will be made by putting pressure on ourselves in the bedroom.
Research shows that anxiety not only reduces the quality of an orgasm, but it can also cause problems earlier in the process for all humans. It messes with one’s libido, problems with arousing your partner or getting aroused yourself and may cause strife in whatever kind of relationship you hold with your paramor.
Sounds like anxiety in sexual situations is a party pooper. The beliefs, expectations and thoughts form a tag team that’s out to ruin our sexual experiences. But all is not lost! Nay, through dedicated effort and mindful fortitude these perils can be overcome. Some ways to deal with anxiety are:
- Communicate with your partner: As obvious as this sounds, talking about sensitive topics like sex and how you feel about it or embarrassing beliefs you have that hold you back is difficult. Talking about it will help you be on the same page. It recalibrates your expectations and beliefs and provides reassurance wherever you need it. Much of what makes good sex come to life is great communication about your wants, your desires, and kinks. Especially if there are somethings that make you uncomfortable, it is imperative that your partner knows that, lest they step on your proverbial tail by mistake.
- Separating your emotions from your partner’s: When in bed, your partner may be freaking out and looking to you for support. In that moment, it is integral that you separate their reaction from yourself. This will enable us to keep calm and lead them back to the moment. Panicking with their panic will just ensure there are two anxious avocados during sexy times.
- Focusing on your senses: Being in the moment is a difficult skill to master. It is, however, worth it! Anxiety reaches us when we disconnect from the moment and indulge in whatever thoughts are salient in our mind. That’s like the kid that gives the loudest answer gets the credit and attention. Trying to envision your thoughts as a stream and allowing them to keep flowing instead of indulging in them and simultaneously focus on the experience your senses are screaming out at you will help you stay grounded in the moment. Other techniques like deep breathing or taking a quick hydration break may also prove fruitful.
- Creating a safe-space: Safe and non-judgmental spaces are conducive to good sex, like water is for electricity. During love-making we are at our most naked and vulnerable selves. It is quite natural to feel shy and awkward. If these sensitive moments are met with gentle kindness and wholesomeness the participants are likelier to feel comfortable and consequently have a better experience. Harsh judgment and ridicule on the other hand would serve the opposite experience.
- Contact a professional for help: Professionals like sex therapists or psychotherapists may be contacted for support. Discrete and helpful, these professionals help guide you through the difficult, triggersome, and sensitive problems of the bedroom, whatever they may be!
Sex can be a highly rewarding and satisfying experience. And it is as natural as wanting to drink water when you’re thirsty or eat food when you’re hungry. Evolution has dealt its cards and we can choose to make our experience fun and smooth. Down with anxiety! Long live orgasms!