What do you do if in order to get aroused or to reach orgasm you need to fantasize in your head?

Reader Question: How can I stay mentally present when we have sex and stop fantasizing?Over the next few days we’re going to talk on the blog about how to bring intimacy back to making love, and that starts with being mentally present. I recently received an email from a woman who battles with this:

Hi Sheila! I am so embarrassed about a problem that I have. I started reading erotica when I was a teenager. I’m now married to a wonderful man who’s actually a great lover. But my body doesn’t respond to him at all. But if I imagine things in my head that I read, then I can get turned on. And I find that I can’t climax without playing a scene in my head (even if it’s a scene I would never ever ever want to do in real life!!!!). How do I stop this and just enjoy sex with my husband?

I bet this woman’s problem is way more common than we think. In fact, I hear the same question from a ton of women, and yet I read so very little about it.

I talked about this in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex. There’s a term for it: It’s called dissociation.

Dissociation is when you mentally “leave” your body when you’re having sex and think about something else.

We commonly think of it in terms of abuse victims. When they’re being sexually abused, they go anywhere else in their head so that they don’t have to think about what’s happening to them.

But we can actually do something similar for other reasons. I’ve talked on the blog before about what porn does to us: it rewires the brain so that what is arousing is an image or a video, rather than a person. It’s one of the main reasons men lose their libidos with their wives, or can’t perform sexually with their wives. Porn has made a real person not attractive anymore.

A similar thing happens with women. You see, for women, sex is almost entirely in our heads. We have to be able to concentrate on what’s happening to get aroused. If you’re day-dreaming, no matter what he does, it won’t feel good.

But this also means that if women fantasize, then we can get aroused and even reach orgasm just by thinking our way there. So it’s quite easy for many women to be with their husbands physically, but be miles away mentally.

The difference is that when men do this, sex often doesn’t work very well. When women do this, sex often works all too well.

There’s nothing wrong with “sexy thoughts”!

All of this is not to say that there’s anything wrong with thinking sexy thoughts about your husband or sex in general or your body or his body or anything while you’re making love! I think that’s part of the process.

But if you have to play out a scene you’ve seen in a movie, or play out a scenario you’ve read in a book, then you’re not really with your husband. You’re more using your husband as an accessory to your fantasy. And that’s not intimate. That’s like you running away from your husband during sex, not running towards him.

So how do we stop fantasizing during sex and become mentally present with our husbands?

Here are just a few things that may help:

Is fantasizing during sex wrong? Read here on how to guide your sex life out of your imagination and into real intimacy.

1. Emphasize foreplay again!

When sex has primarily been about fantasy for women, foreplay becomes kind of a distraction. After all, when you’re touching each other and being active, then you can’t concentrate on your fantasy. And so, in the past, you likely rushed foreplay or told him you didn’t need it. But if you’re going to learn how to be present during sex and how to make sex about feeling physically good and not just about fantasy, you’re going to need foreplay! You need to see that your body can become aroused without the fantasy–just with his touch and concentrating on your husband.

So emphasize foreplay. Even set the timer and don’t let yourself start intercourse for a certain period of time. Drag it out! See the physical effects it has on you. As you learn what your body likes and get used to your body responding, you’ll find it easier to stay mentally present during intercourse.

2. Be the aggressor when you’re making love

That naturally leads to this: When you are the one “in control”, it’s harder to fantasize, and easier to focus on what your body is feeling. When you have to take action, you can’t just let your mind wander.

So don’t just let foreplay be something he does to you; Really “use” your husband! Climb on top of him and make love with you on top so that you can figure out what angle is right. Move around as much as you want. When you’re involved in foreplay, rub against him as much as you can.

When you’re fantasizing, moving can wreck things, because it detracts from what’s going on in your brain. So you may tend to just lie there, and then he does all the work while we’re thinking. If you do more of the work, you learn to focus more on your body.

3. Think about Being Sexy, not about scenarios

We’re going to think about something during sex; thinking about stuff isn’t wrong. It’s focusing on other people, or on trying to “escape” in your mind that can harm intimacy. So instead, try thinking about the sexiest you you can imagine. What would you love to do with your husband? What would be your wildest fantasy? Try to substitute that, and then even get to the point where you can share that with your husband.

4. Don’t Focus on orgasm; focus on pleasure

This is going to sound weird, but if you do find yourself fantasizing, stop and then just focus on the pleasure. What is your body feeling? Your body knows how to orgasm; you’ve done it before. It won’t forget. But get carried away by the pleasure, not the fantasy. Stop the fantasy and think about what your body is feeling.

Here’s the truth: Your body is capable of reaching orgasm, but until now, it really hasn’t. Your mind has. But you can learn how to reach orgasm through physical stimulation rather than just mental gymnastics. When we grow up with porn or erotica, women become even more dissociated with our bodies, and sex becomes almost entirely in our brains. So we have to put our brains to work for us in a different way–deliberately concentrate on what you’re feeling physically. Stop ignoring your body, and start paying attention to what feels good. Concentrate on how things are feeling. And you may just find that you don’t need those fantasies!

5. Make sex super personal

Say your husband’s name out loud. Look at his face. Explore his body. Make sex about your husband, not about your fantasies. The more you’re thinking about your husband, the less your head can go there!

6. Pray and ask God to redeem your sex life

Do you have any idea how much God wants you to have an intimate and deeply personal and deeply wonderful sex life? Seriously, this is totally His will for you! He wants this for you. He doesn’t just automatically give it to you; you have to choose to let the fantasies go and to “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5). But God wants to help you with this! He wants to transform you from the inside out, including through renewing your mind.

So ask Him about it. You don’t need to be ashamed. Ask Him to help you have the kind of super intimate marriage you really do want.

Do you feel like you need a reset on your sex life?

If you’ve been living like this, and you want to start making love and not just having sex, maybe what you need is a big sexual reset!

That’s what 31 Days to Great Sex can do for you. It’s a series of challenges that you do with your spouse that are quick, fun, and super effective. They help you address all three areas of sex: emotional intimacy, spiritual intimacy, and physical intimacy. So while there are days on figuring out what feels good and how to spice things up, there are also exercises to address your baggage and learn to be mentally present.

And the best part? The ebook version is only $4.99 (though it’s a full size book!) I’m keeping it super cheap so it can help as many couples as possible (though you can buy it in paperback, too).

Check it out here!

Now, has erotica or fantasy ever sabotaged your sex life in marriage? How have you been overcoming that? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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