Anxiety: a Global Issue
Anxiety affects about 40 million Americans. Worldwide, that number climbs to 284 million. And with so many of us in COVID-19 lockdown, jobless because of the economic slump, or both, the figure is set to climb much higher.
Clinical anxiety affects every part of a person’s life, and that includes intimate relationships. Kelsey Borrenson, in her February 28, 2020 Huffington Post article, chronicled 8 different ways that ordinary people were trying to engage sexually while suffering from this condition.
1 Stuck in my head
Shelby Goodrich Eckard from Atlanta, a mom of two kids, explains that she finds it impossible to be in the moment with her partner, since she’s always thinking and overthinking. This makes her feel tense and awkward instead of sexual.
2. Tough time connecting
Erica Gordon (28), the primary writer and founder of the Babe Report, states she has a tough time relaxing enough to feel comfortable and connect with her partner. In her words, “In order to open myself up to someone on that deep, intimate level that leads to great sex, I really need to connect with that person.”
3. Hypercritical about the whole sex thing
Lifestyle blogger and Influencer Charlie G. ends up second and third-guessing herself even before things have gotten really hot and heavy. She gets into awkward discussions, exchanges and over-analysis within the first few kisses of a session—thereby sinking the love boat before it even leaves harbor. She explains one such encounter, “My anxiety stopped me in the middle of us making out because I was a nervous wreck.”
4. I find it difficult to get aroused
We know men enjoy challenges, but not all of them are up for scaling Mount Everest-sized emotional or mental barriers. For Gordon, a man has to climb up and over these kinds of barriers, though, to get her really turned on.
As she explains, “my man has to put more effort in to ‘seduce’ me or ‘turn me on’ than he otherwise would have to with a woman who does not struggle with anxious thoughts.”
5 I need booze to drop my panties
Gordon says that she’s not even a social drinker, but invariably needs to put away a few before she can lower her guard enough to contemplate sex. Ironically, she doesn’t even enjoy alcohol, but finds it’s the only thing that can get her in the mood.
6. I fixate on my appearance
Do I look good enough? Is my body in shape? Am I aging too fast? Goodrich Eckard wrestles with all these issues and more when she thinks of getting naked with her partner. In a worst case, these kinds of thoughts can loop so intensively that they simply cancel any prospect of intimacy for the night.
7. I think too much about the future (instead of sex right now)
Is this my forever guy? Or is this just for tonight? Is he using me? Or falling in love with me? And since we’re both adults, do these questions matter anyway? These kinds of thoughts and many more run through the head of Charlie G. as she’s still in the makeout stages with a guy.
She’s hardly alone, but these feelings make her run the risk of dampening the arousal she could feel right now because of futures that may never come to pass.
8. Ticking the sex box off the list
Put sex on today’s agenda? Or take it off? This is a special worry for mothers like Goodrich Eckard, with so many things to get done during the day. With the whirlwind lives of many mothers, if something’s not put on the day planner, you may never get around to it at all. But then again, the very act of putting it on the planner can increase your anxiety.
Anxiety Solutions that Work
Is there hope for those of us who struggle with anxiety—inside the bedroom and out? Yes. Doctors suggest multiple ways that can improve our sex lives:
Speak with a doctor, therapist or other expert:
Depending on your condition, you may be prescribed medications that can help, allowing you to gain more control over your feelings, thoughts, and emotions.
Be open with your partner
If you struggle with anxiety, don’t hide it. Talk about it with your partner, and perhaps try to come up with a solution. That will have the added benefits of growing the bond between you and at least partially relieve some of your initial negative thoughts.
Consider options outside of intercourse
Massages, toys, mutual masturbation: all of these are alternatives to intercourse. They will relieve the pressure to perform, and some of your anxiety.
In sum, like anyone else, people with anxiety can strive for happy and fulfilling sex lives. Pick the strategy that feels best for you and then start your journey toward the goal.