What To Do When You Get Distracted From Sex 

When men have sex it seems that all of their thoughts shut off — except for sex.

So says Dr. Louann Brizendine in The Male Brain. (Guys: feel free to chime in to confirm or disconfirm.)

But women often get distracted. 

Multitasking during sex

When women have sex they may also be multitasking. They’re having intercourse but they’re often also thinking about the paper that is due the next day or a fight they had with a friend.

When I talk about this in class my women students break out in laughter and nod their heads in recognition.

So I asked my students to write about some of their experiences with distraction, if they would like. Here is what “RoSo” told me:


Before I lost weight I did get really distracted from sex because I would be thinking about how I looked instead of how I felt. I wasn’t getting into the eroticism of the moment because I was getting so distracted. And I didn’t even realize that I did that until you started talking about your research. But when my partner was on top, sometimes I would look down and see love handles and rolls of fat and I would think, “Oh my gosh! That’s not attractive! He couldn’t possibly find that attractive!”

But RoSo also says that thinking she looks sexy can make sex hotter — when she’s got good body image (and 80% of young women don’t).

But after I lost weight sex got a lot better. A lot better! Now I don’t get distracted by worrying about how fat I am. In fact it’s just the opposite. When I can tell that he’s turned on by my body that really turns me on.

Telling him what I want distracts me

She feels better about her body now but RoSo can still get distracted because any sort of talk takes her out of the moment and distracts her from her lust. As she describes it:

When we are having sex I want it to be perfect and I think that’s part of the problem — of why it’s hard for me to lubricate and orgasm. My partner doesn’t know my body, he can’t seem to find the right places. But I don’t want to have to tell him what to do, I want him to just know. I think sex should just happen perfectly. If I have to stop and tell him what to do that’s really distracting for me. It takes me out of the the moment.

So I will offer some advice on all of this.

Have a sex talk

As much as possible couples can discuss what they like before they have sex so that they aren’t distracted in the moment.

But RoSo’s partner doesn’t like to be told what to do. Maybe they should have a conversation about that and explore why he feels that way. A lot of men don’t understand that all women aren’t alike. Their bodies respond in different ways. So men shouldn’t expect to automatically know what works. Even women, themselves, have to figure out what works.

Moaning helps

Luckily, there are ways to let your partner know what you like sans verbal direction. Women can increase and decrease their moaning to direct their partners. So her partner can explore her body, guided by her moaning — and they might both discover new and wondrous things!

As an added bonus, moaning also helps distraction-prone women to focus and notice all of the small sensations that can grow bigger with time and attention.

Give him a hand

But sometimes you may need to give him a hand – literally. Gently — or not so gently — guide him to the right places and the right touches.

And remember: women have to learn what turns them on, and men have to learn what their partners like, too.

Related Posts

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on July 24, 2017, in sex and sexuality and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. Interesting post. I would have to disagree with Dr. Louann Brizendine because I get distracted as well. My brain does not shut off during sex. I too find myself worrying about how I look, how my partner is feeling, or what to do next. Most of the time this isn’t an issue, but during a heavy quarter or even just finals week at school it can become an issue when my stress levels are high. The advice given is great though. Sex talks have helped in my situation because sometimes these distractions can hurt the other person’s feelings and make them feel inadequate. Both my girlfriend and I have each been distracted at times and both of us have felt inadequate when we pick up on this. Talking about it has helped a lot because we are able to explain the real reason we are distracted, and remind the other person it has nothing to do with them. This conversation also leads to improvement as your post describes because we are able to discuss what helps or even what might help to try next time.

  2. Moaning was something that was very difficult to me when I was first discovering sex in my 20’s. It felt very unnatural to me, which in turn caused me to become distracted and more focused on my moaning and how I sounded rather than the actual sex. I was also nervous about having the sex talk with my partner because I didn’t want to show how inexperienced I was. Throughout time I gained more familiarity on how sex worked, and I now use moans as a natural means of communicating to my partner on how I am feeling.

    My partner tells me that if his mind drifts off too much during sex he will lose his erection. Sometimes I feel glad that I am not the male during intercourse and that I actually have the ability to freely think about other trivial things during it. Having sex can sometimes be a long process, as I feel it should be because it shouldn’t be just pump, climax, done. Sex is about the connection you have with each other, from the foreplay, to the actual intercourse, to the after-sex cuddles. There is nothing wrong with letting your mind drift off during the process, just as long as you keep that constant connection and communication with your partner.

  3. This blog gives really good advice to people who are sexualy active and have been having difficulties with their partner. I like how it talks about insecurities of a women and how she changed it to improve her sex life. As for me and a couple of my friends we can relate to the point that when we’re having sex we are focused on other things, such as arguments, homework, work, etc. But I don’t necessarily know what goes on in the boy’s mind, what he is thinking or what he is focused on. I do agree having sex talks with your partner is important, saying what you do like and don’t can help improve your sex life and bring you closer together, although some men or women don’t like to have the talk I believe it is very important because you can’t read your partner’s mind, maybe they don’t like something you do and they don’t want to tell you.

  4. I think that women moaning during intercourse can non-verbally help their partner know what may feel good to them. I believe that it not only helps your partner understand your good spots but it can also be more arousing to not only your partner but yourself as well as a women. We as women get so caught up in the daily tasks that we don’t take a moment to enjoy intimacy like we should. A lot of women also have body issues and I do believe that that also plays a huge roll in our drive to the finish line. I can agree that women need to understand their bodies and what they like before they can let someone else know. I think you have to become more aware of your own desires. It takes time to develop a healthy relationship and to also learn what you like about your sexuality, and once this is understood it will become more of a fun adventure verses constantly shaming ones self.

  5. Of course with my nonstandard approach to gender roles I can hardly claim to speak for all men but…

    When I was first discovering sex around age 20 (yes, I led a sheltered life) I did indeed think exclusively with my second brain. EVERYTHING was about sex, and there was nothing that would redirect my thoughts. I screwed up (no pun intended) my first few relationships because all I could think about was sex.

    A few years into marriage and my late 30s… not so much. I still remember an occasion when we were in the throes of passion and one of us passed gas. I don’t remember which one of us it was, but my wife broke up laughing and I was mortified or disgusted or both. It completely put me off finishing. I also became more aware of our physical limitations: She was just starting to experience early-onset arthritis which made just about any position uncomfortable for her, so throughout the entire process she was constantly shifting about or groaning in pain. After a while it was all I could think about. Am I putting too much weight on her? Should I hurry so she can roll over and get to sleep? Is she moaning from pain or ecstasy? All too often I’d fade out before either of us could enjoy the moment (a euphemism I am using here to mean “reach orgasm”).

    I don’t know if my constant worry about Mrs. Ralph’s physical health (which eventually deteriorated to complete paraplegia) was part of the problem or if it would have happened anyway, but it wasn’t that long after that we just gave up on sex by mutual unspoken consent.

    Now in my late 50s the only time Little Ralphie stands at attention is during a particularly good dream — which doesn’t necessarily have to be erotic at all, just joyful in nature and free from any source of anxiety.

    Like the old joke: “What are most women thinking during sex?” Answer: “Beige. I think I’ll paint the ceiling beige.

  6. I highly believe it’s true that women are probably multitasking during sex. I have caught myself on multiple occasions thinking of another subject in the middle of intercourse – not because I am not interested in what is going on, but because my mind seems to constantly wander. My distractions can range from a current school assignment I am stuck on to what position I want next.

    Although it states that the only thing men think about during sex is sex, I wonder if that’s really true. Are they really limited to the idea of what is currently going on, or do they have the capacity to multitask as well? What study has proven that all males think this way or is it just a broad opinion of Dr. Louann Brizendine? I feel as if I were to ask my partner that question, he would get offended on my half for not being 100% in the game but also cover up on his half in case he isn’t 100% either. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with not fully mentally being there. For the most part, sex is a physical interaction.

  7. Arletta Ellington

    If I think at all about performance, then my erection is gone. And this isn’t a question of age – I’m 70 now – it has been that way all my life. To me, it is when both my partner and I are totally aware of one another that the sex becomes enjoyable. It’s like our bodies are in a conversation with each other – in a language of the bodies. It is only now, in my old age, that I’m beginning to learn and to understand this.

  8. A lot of times men have same nsecurities about their appearance or performance as women do. But I would say it takes a pretty big distraction to distract me during sex.

    • That’s largely what I’ve heard from men I’ve surveyed. I’ll have to do a post on that. Thanks for your input on the topic.

    • Well I meant like before sex, not actually during sex. I would agree myself once you’re locked in, nothing but like her body and sex clicks on. I’m talking about messing around before you and the woman are naked and the lead up before it and like I’d call “pre-game” jitters that could pop in a man’s head for the stuff explained before they have sex. Once it starts then usually that’s gone.

  9. So says Dr. Louann Brizendine in The Male Brain. (Guys: feel free to chime in to confirm or disconfirm.)”

    I think that’s true for the most part, because you’re so excited and turned on seeing her body naked and how visual us guys are. But it depends too though. How sexually experienced is the guy, how much he likes the girl and different things that can add pressure. And if the guy has been drinking “whiskey dick”. But as you see the differences with men and women with what would distract or they feel pressure from with sex. Women being sex objects, naturally the distraction is related to how their body looks. But society placing the standard on men with “performance” such as top status job, how a man performs better than men in sports, driving, fixing, ego, competitive stuff and matching up. It makes sense that there can be performance anxiety for men that women don’t see that face as much, but women face with anxiety about how their body looks and men not as often feel that body appearance pressure. So in the performance aspect, lasting long enough, pleasing her well, and getting her off, how big his dick his and just his sex skills, etc. you know performance.

  10. I feel this is slightly unfair. If a man gets distracted, which is perfectly possible, it’s difficult for him to maintain an erection. Also, I suspect most women would feel quite offended if the man they were having sex with wasn’t 100% focussed on them. Just imagine a world where men and women alike could say, “Use me how you like, honey. I really need to finish writing this article!”

    • I don’t know much about men’s issues with this so if you would like to fill me in I’m happy to write a post on it.

      • I can’t speak for others, but I certainly have to stop myself (on occasion) from thinking about plots for stories, TV programmes, mathematics, etc. Then there are the more routine worries about what I want from sex vs what my partner wants from sex, and whether I can perform well enough…

      • Thanks for this input.

  11. Well.. I have had the experience of women talking about extraneous rubbish at the inappropriate time.

  12. Similar question comes in my mind. By the way its an awesome post. Its a fact and that had to be discussed. Thanks for sharing this..

  13. interesting post this. I know for a fact that when I do find that special someone that I want to spend my life with and it comes to having sex, I guess the first time’s probably going to be the hardist or the most interesting. I myself associate moaning with pain and I know that talking me through things might distract my partner a bit plus I guess I might be more distracted by how my partner feels more so than how I feel because one has to both of us have to be emotionally ready for such things not just one or other of us. maybe that’s because I prefer to be more worried about others than myself.

    • I surveyed my male students on this topic and some of them get distracted by worrying about how their partners feel and others simply take a more positive view toward it — feeling into her emotions (like her positive moaning or saying that she likes what he’s doing) and enjoying her pleasure.

Thoughts? (Comments will appear after moderation)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: