Scientists have confirmed that chocolate contains an enzyme that can set off the pleasure centers of the brain in a manner that is similar to the effect sex has on the brain. Which is why when some women are too tired for one, they’ll reach for the other — “Not tonight, honey, I have a Hershey’s.”
But what if she’s not tired? What if she’s just plain bored, or not interested in a sex life that isn’t what she imagined? Or maybe it’s not her, but her man sitting on the bed with his stash of M&Ms? This can be prevented, but it takes more than just avoiding the candy aisle at the supermarket. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the five most common barriers to a healthy sex life. If any of these look familiar to you, there is a way out.
- Having negative/self-defeating thoughts about sex – These negative/self-defeating thoughts can come from anywhere (i.e. from your childhood, religion, past sexual experiences, etc.) and can really affect your sexuality. Some of us grow up thinking sex is dirty or sinful, while others are taught to be ashamed of their bodies. Remember, your thoughts cause your feelings and behaviors, so if you have negative thoughts about sex, you will have negative feelings about sex which will impact your sexual behavior. The truth is, sex isn’t dirty — in fact, doctors all agree that it’s healthy! It’s good for your cardiovascular system, stress relief and even helps to fight off illnesses by increasing your body’s natural defenses. Sex is also good exercise, burning off as many calories as playing a set of tennis. Develop healthier attitudes about sex with your partner and stomp out those negative, self-defeating thoughts.
- Focusing solely on performance and functioning – Too often, too much focus and emphasis is placed on sexual performance (such as “Am I doing this right?” or “Is this how it’s supposed to be done?”) and functioning (such as “I must have an erection every time.”, “I must make this last a long time,” and “An orgasm has to happen every single time”). This can create undue pressure which can then cause problems in your sexuality. Worrying about performance can create self-fulfilling prophecies. The more we worry about these issues, the more likely they are to come up. Remember, our bodies are not perfect and will not work perfectly all the time and in every situation. Expecting perfection in our sexual performance and functioning will only lead to frustration and disappointment (see number 1 above). Instead, focus on the joy, fun and pleasure of sex, intimacy with your partner and the joy of pleasing each other.
- Not owning your sexuality – It’s so easy to make your partner responsible for your sexuality. However, the truth is, YOU are responsible for your sexuality. You are responsible for whether or not you have an orgasm. It’s your responsibility to know your body and what feels good to you along with your sexual desires. It’s also your responsibility to share your desires with your partner. Making your partner responsible for your sexuality or even blaming your partner for sexual issues can create major problems in your relationship. It takes two to have a good relationship, so it also must take two to enjoy good sex.
- Not talking to your partner about sex – We are always amazed at how many people are comfortable having sex (in fact, lots of sex) but are uncomfortable talking about sex in this country. It’s like there is an unspoken rule: “Do it but don’t talk about it.” If you can’t comfortably and openly talk to your partner about sex, then you probably shouldn’t be having sex. Establish a dialogue. Talk openly about the things that you like, and accentuate the positive, but downplay the negative. Make your partner feel good about the sex you have together, and your partner will make you feel good by doing the things you enjoy the most.
- Not making sex a priority – Sadly, with many couples, sex is not a priority. Even worse, the relationship itself is not even a priority. Work, family, obligations and other “have-tos” always seem to get in the way, and at the end of the day, we wind up without the energy to put into our bedroom lives. Our favorite quote sums it up: “Where the attention goes, the energy flows.” If you want a healthy sex life in your relationship, then put more attention and focus into it. Make it a priority! After all, if we can’t enjoy our relationships, why are we working so hard to make ends meet, anyway? For the joy of balancing the checkbook? Enjoy your partners and your relationships, because if you don’t, we guarantee you’ll miss them when they are gone.
Think about these barriers and work to overcome them. Be honest with your partner, but most of all, be honest with yourself. Don’t by shy about sex, and it will come more naturally to you and your lover.