The post-dinner cleanup is done, the TV is off, and it's finally time for the sex session you've been craving all day. But as you segue from foreplay to the main event, your mind takes a turn—to work deadlines or your friend's gossipy Facebook post. Before you know it, you're mentally a million miles away from your partner.
The inability to focus on the here and now during sex is something a lot of people experience, especially women, says Angela Skurtu, a therapist and author of Helping Couples Overcome Infidelity: A Therapist's Manual. "I've noticed that my female clients have a harder time with this, while men tend to be better at compartmentalizing."
To have satisfying sex, says Skurtu, you must do two things. "You need to focus on relaxing and figure out what turns you on in the moment." To arrive at that place and get you out of that easily distracted head space, we asked Skurtu and sex therapist Tammy Nelson, author of Getting the Sex You Want, for their best actionable tips.
Be mindful outside of the bedroom
To start doing it automatically in the bedroom, practice being more present in the rest of your life. "Any minute of any day, take a moment to focus on one sensation, whether it's sight, smell, taste, touch, or sound," says Skurtu. Try listening to a song, for example, and pay close attention to all the words and the melody, rather than use it as background music. Or really enjoy every bite of your meal, focusing on nothing but the flavors.
Once you've got the hang of it, try it during sex. Focus on how every kiss feels, or pay attention to your partner's breathing and the way his fingertips feel warm on your skin. Zoning in on the small details will anchor your brain so your thoughts don't wander and you're physically and emotionally there with each touch and stroke.
Play this sexy game
Keep yourself connected to the action at hand through a little playful competition, like a grown-up twist on truth or dare, suggests Skurtu. "You're thinking of the next dare or truth you'll ask, rather than your daily life," she explains. Each option will play off what's going on between the sheets, keeping you tuned in to the moment. For example, if he's just kissed you on the mouth, smile and reply, "I dare you to kiss me like that below the belt next." A truth option? "Tell me where I can kiss you like that on your body."
Take the lead
Being the aggressor or dominant partner means you're in charge of the action—and that keeps your brain solidly in the here and now. "Focus on your partner and making them feel good," suggests Nelson. Taking the lead doesn't mean you have to plan a menu of crazy-sexy moves; it's more about paying attention to what the other person wants and finding out by experimenting and asking questions. You'll stay focused on what's happening between the sheets and learn more about turning on your partner too.
Having wandering thoughts during sex "could mean you are bored," says Nelson. If this happens, consider doing it in a different part of the house—like the couch, floor, steamy shower . . . whatever sounds sexy and fresh. A change of scenery often works, but if it doesn't, think about bringing in sex toys, such as handcuffs or a vibrator. "When something new is happening, it's easier to focus on the newness," notes Skurtu.
Keep distractions out of sight
Can't stop thinking about that big pile of laundry in the corner of the bedroom? The best thing you can do is move it to another room so you can't see it and consequently think about it. Same goes for your phone, a stack of bills, or anything else that could possibly distract your brain.
"I tell people to make their bedrooms sanctuaries," says Skurtu. Think about all of the things that may cause you stress or anxiety, and give them the heave-ho. If watching the nightly news gives you anxiety, for example, keeping a television in your room is a major no-no for a positive and mindful sex life.