It's depressing how much time women spend
thinking about their looks. American women spend half an hour a day improving their appearances, according to a Today.com survey. Even more upsettingly, this pattern seeps into the bedroom. Thirty-two percent of women in one said that when they Cosmo survey didn't orgasm, it was because they were in their heads or thinking about their looks. Of course, this isn't our fault — we have a culture that routinely objectifies women to blame for that — but it's also not doing us any favors in the bedroom. The more we're up in our heads, the fewer sensations we'll feel. So, how do you stop thinking about your body insecurities during sex?
"You’d think with sex being as pleasurable as it is, we’d be consumed with the how incredible it feels rather than obsessed with how we look," Emily Morse, Doctorate of Human Sexuality and host of
Sex With Emily podcast, tells Bustle. "Since one of the most common questions I get asked is how to stop obsessing about my body during sex, I know this is a significant challenge."
If you've fallen into this pattern, you're clearly not alone. Here are some ways to get out of you head and back into the moment.
Focus On Your Sensations
"The best way to get your mind off yourself and into the act at hand is to recognize the destructive thought and redirect it toward what’s happening in the moment," says Morse.
Instead of focusing on your insecurities, focus on the sensations around you, Morse says. "The way your partner’s skin feel against yours, the scent of the candle, or the sound of your breath. This will bring you back to the present moment, where all that’s happening is your connection with your partner," she says.
This is easier said than done, obviously. If you struggle to control your thoughts, you might want to try
these mindfulness exercises.
Use A Blindfold To Heighten Your Senses
It's a Band-Aid solution, but if your partner wears a blindfold, the knowledge that they're not seeing you may help you have an easier time letting go. But another, more surprising way to take advantage of a blindfold is to wear it. Losing sight heightens your other senses, which makes focusing on sensations easier, says Morse.
Wearing a blindfold can also make it more difficult to monitor yourself, Astroglide's resident
sexologist Dr. Jess O'Reilly tells Bustle. "Rather than trying to control how you look, force yourself out of your comfort zone by relinquishing control altogether."
Find Positive Influences
Even if we don't realize it, the people around us could be negatively impacting our body image. "Much like happiness, science suggests that attitudes toward our bodies may be contagious," says Dr. Jess. "
One study of 150 women found that our own body image and emphasis on weight loss is linked to our perception of how our friends feel about their bodies. So avoid commiserating with friends ... and hang out with people who don’t make their appearance a central focus."
Walking around naked can get you more comfortable with your body, says Dr. Jess. You can start off spending time naked by yourself or with your partner or looking at your genitals in the mirror. If you're ready to take nudity to the next level, try going to a nudist beach or club. The acceptance that you gain and witness there may also help you in the bedroom.
"Nudists report more positive body image, and women who perform genital exams feel better about their bodies," says Dr. Jess. "If you’re highly uncomfortable with nudity today, you might start by simply spending two extra minutes naked after you shower and work your way up to longer periods of time."
A great way to distract yourself from any thoughts, body-related or not, is to pull out your go-to sexual fantasies (yes,
it's OK to do that with a partner). "Allow your mind to wander freely knowing that your sexual fantasies are normal and healthy," says Dr. Jess. "As we develop greater comfort with our own sexuality and genuinely embrace our desires, we find that hot sex is less about aesthetics and more about an experience of intimacy, connection, and uninhibited exploration."
The more aroused we are, the harder it is to think about things like our insecurities, says Dr. Jess. So, do everything you can to maximize your arousal and pleasure. The same way that sexual arousal can increase our
tolerance for risky behaviors or disgusting things, it can also make us more comfortable with our bodies.
Remember You're Your Own Worst Critic
Take comfort in knowing that your partner probably has not even noticed the physical traits you're concerned about. "I've talked to thousands of people about what they notice during sex, and their partners' bodily 'imperfections' are never mentioned," Vanessa Marin, sex therapist and creator of
Finishing School, an online orgasm course for women, tells Bustle. "There are so many more exciting things to pay attention to during sex."
Remind Yourself What You're Missing Out On
Remember that every second you spend thinking about insecurities is a second away from the intimacy and connection you desire. "Think about the choice in front of you," says Marin. "Tell yourself, 'I only have so much attention. I can focus on the way [my body looks], or I can focus on being present with my incredible partner.'"
Improve Your Body Confidence In All Areas
Don't confine this work to the bedroom, because building your confidence outside the bedroom will build your confidence in it as well. "Your relationship with your body
inside of the bedroom isn't magically going to be better than your relationship with it outside of the bedroom," says Marin. "If you're feeling self-conscious during sex, it's an opportunity for you to work on developing a deeper connection to your body." You can start with these tips for boosting body confidence.
Throughout all of this, be patient with yourself. It's difficult not to get distracted by insecurities during sex, so any time you can spend away from these thoughts is an accomplishment.