By Drs. Chuck and Jo-Ann Bird for YourTango.com.
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 you’re too tired for one, you’re likely to reach for the other: “Not tonight, honey, I’ll have a Hershey’s Kiss instead.”
But what if you’re not tired? What if you’re just plain bored or not interested in a sex life that isn’t what you’d imagined? You can turn the tide — but it takes more than just avoiding the candy aisle at the supermarket. We’ve put together a list of the five most common barriers to a healthy sex life — and how to get past them.
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1. Negative or self-defeating thoughts about sex
These thoughts can come from anywhere (e.g. 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 our bodies. If you have negative thoughts about sex, they’re bound to impact your sexual behavior, so make it a point to work past them.
The truth is, sex isn’t dirty. In fact, doctors 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.
2. Focusing solely on performance
When you’re too self-conscious of your performance during sex (am I moving the right way? Am I making sounds that turn him on?), you’re putting undue pressure on yourself — pressure that can negatively affect your sexuality and lead to self-fulfilling prophecies.
Remember, your body isn’t perfect (no one’s is!), and it won’t ‘work’ perfectly all the time. Expecting perfection in your sexual performance will only lead to frustration and disappointment. Instead, focus on the fun and pleasure of sex, intimacy with your partner and the joy of pleasing each other.
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3. Not owning your sexuality
The phrase “know thyself” applies perfectly to your sexuality. If you don’t know what feels good and how to bring yourself to orgasm, how can your partner? Don’t be afraid to get to know your body, recognize what feels good to you and acknowledge your sexual desires. There’s nothing shameful about this kind of self-awareness.
Also, don’t hesitate to share your desires with your partner — and refrain from blaming your partner for sexual issues, especially before you take a hard look at yourself. Finger-pointing can seem like the easy way out, but the truth is it takes two to tango.
4. Not talking to your partner about sex
As therapists, we are always amazed at how many people are comfortable having sex (in fact, lots of sex) but are uncomfortable talking about sex. It’s like there is an unspoken rule: “Do it but don’t talk about it.” If you’re comfortable enough to have a sexual relationship with your partner, you should feel comfortable enough to openly talk to your partner about sex. Establish a dialogue. Share the things you like, accentuate the positive and downplay the negative. Make your partner feel good about the sex you have together, and your partner will want to make you feel good by doing the things you enjoy the most.
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5. 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-to”s always seem to get in the way. At the end of the day, we wind up zapped of energy in the bedroom. 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! Think about these barriers and work to overcome them. Be honest with your partner, but most of all, be honest with yourself. Once you stop being shy about sex, it will come more naturally to you and your lover.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.com: 5 Ways To Ruin Your Sex Life.