Anna Pulley, @annapulley
RedEye's sex columnist
11:30 AM CST, November 21, 2012
I've been out of the sex game for a while, save for a very casual relationship that happens sporadically. However, I met a girl recently and sex is imminent. I'm excited about it but worried because I'm having a hard time letting people touch me, just relaxing and enjoying sensation. My last relationship was largely sexless and took a serious toll on my ego, and now the little sex I have had in recent months is fraught with anxiety and over-thinking, and I don't want that to happen this time. How can I get back into my body?--Fraught
If I had a quarter for every question like this I get, I'd get so much laundry done, but be really sad about it. Being in your head too much is a very common dilemma, especially for women. I'm going to give you some contradictory advice and tell you to stay in your head the next time you're getting down with someone. But there's a twist! When you're in there, I want you to fantasize like a mother--. Bodily sensations are lovely, of course, and are necessary for arousal and orgasm, but it's your head that's the real boner killer. In previous studies (like the one I linked to a few weeks ago), women were shown to be capable of physical (objective) sexual responses without having the awareness that they were actually aroused. In those cases, there's a pervasive mind-body disconnect. Your body, I'm sure, is doing its thing just fine, unless you were struck by lightning or something, or have physical ailments or trauma that you didn't mention above.
Fantasizing lets you be in your head in a pleasing way. In doing so, you're not allowing your brain the chance to mire you in discouraging messages of anxiety or tension. Think about what turns you on instead. Check in with your body (and partner) from time to time, but use whatever fodder you have (memory, porn, "Twilight" fan fiction, etc.) to stay in the mood and in the moment, and to keep those negative thoughts at bay. You can't turn your brain off, but you can be the one running the show, at least.
Also, there's another thing I want you to do. It's a little silly, but science is on my side here. For two minutes before you're set to bang this girl, I want you to stand with your chin up and your arms above your head, the classic, "eff-yeah!" Rocky victory pose. This isn't a pose we learned from Sylvester Stallone movies, however. Blind people have been shown to replicate this pose, which led scientists to wonder whether there was something to positions of power. And wouldn't you know it, there is! According to this TED talk with Amy Cuddy, not only does our body language affect how other people see us, but it also affects how we see ourselves. Adopting the above victory stance for two minutes has been proven to increase testosterone (the hormone that affects confidence) in the brain, and decreases cortisol (the stress hormone). So you're boosting your confidence simply by slightly altering your body language. Give it a shot. What've you got to lose? Nothing because you're the champ.
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