You Need Help: Getting Out of Your Head and Into Her Pants

Q:
I’m bisexual. I came out at 23 and now I’m 26. I love having sex with ladies, but I’ve had an issue: I have trouble having really present, connected, intimate sex with girls. Certainly this didn’t come easily with guys, but it did happen. Even when I feel really emotionally connected with and attracted to a woman, it feels like both of us are too in our own heads to be super present and only focused on being with each other, rather than “Does this feel good for her? Do I look goofy at this angle? Will she be able to do _______ if I’m laying on my ______? Can I ask for that or does that seem like I’m asking too much?” This might just be ME being in my own head, but my instinct says it’s not. I feel like guys are so much more likely to just want what they want and not feel embarrassed about it, or it’s easier for them to just forget about the rest of the world while they’re having sex (fuck the patriarchy). But I have had strong feelings for women I’ve been with and haven’t been able to feel this with them. HALP?!


You’re totally right that there are cultural norms of women repressing desire that are likely showing up in your sex life. Feeling disconnected during sex can happen to anyone of any gender, but queer women seem especially subject to it. And queer sex doesn’t have a default script the way that straight sex does. There are different body parts, different ideas about those body parts, more and different places to put them, and no clear ultimate act that “counts” as sex. And though it’s more and more present, there’s also just not a ton of representation of queer sex floating around. This means that the options for what two people can do together are pretty much endless and less loaded with expectation compared to straight sex, but it also means you have to engage with partners in long form, without making assumptions about what they want or what you want or what kinds of things you might get up to together. It means that you can’t be lazy and somehow fall into having good sex. It means you have to pay attention.

Being stuck in loops of worry in your head is the opposite of paying attention.

Start with yourself. Getting yourself out of your head and into your body, and out of your worry and into the present moment, will only improve your sex and your life.

Mindfulness is a skill you have to practice often in order to draw on it in specific situations. Try bringing your attention to your breath, to the feeling of your feet touching the floor or your body where it connects with your chair, or to your hands as they clasp each other. Try it for a minute or two with a timer to start. If you get distracted — and you will — note the distraction, forgive it, and gently bring your focus back. No one is good at this right away.

Throughout your day, and throughout sex, practice aiming your focus on just one thing. Maybe that means closing the million tabs currently open in your browser so you can be right here reading just these words until you are done. Maybe it means clearing off your desk, or tidying your room, or turning your phone on do not disturb. Maybe it means using a white noise machine so you don’t hear your neighbors. Maybe it means using an oil diffuser so you don’t smell that weird smell the heater makes sometimes. Think about abstract and concrete things in your environment that are taking away from your focus, and then clear away all the extra stuff and focus on one thing at a time.

Meditation is also a good tool, but personally, meditation makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable. If you want to try it, the Headspace app is a great place to start. If you don’t, look at other ways you can clear your thoughts. For me, for instance, sitting meditation feels like a nightmare but running feels incredible. Maybe you hate meditation conceptually but feel great about staring at a candle for a few minutes each evening and imagining all your negative thoughts burning up. Maybe you feel totally focused and still and present when you brush your teeth or wash your dishes or wait for a green light. Whatever the thing is for you, practice paying attention to your breath, to the physical sensations of your body, to your focus. Regardless of how you do it, the more you incorporate focus and being present into your life, the easier it will be to incorporate it into sex.

You can’t be present with another person until you can be present with yourself. But communication is just as important. You have to talk about sex before you have it. You have to talk about sex while you have it. You have to talk about sex with the people you have sex with, period. Especially if you want that sex to be anything approaching awesome.

The best way to stop worrying about whether something feels good for someone is to establish a repertoire, even in the most casual sex, of giving and getting verbal feedback. It can fun to have feelings for people you’re having sex with, but feelings are not a stand-in for strong communication. During sex, does that thing she’s doing feel really, really good? Say “that feels really, really good.” Want more fingers, that one angle, slower, faster, deeper, harder? Ask for it. Not super into that thing she just started to do? Say “what if we” or “could you please” and ask for something else. Giving feedback yourself can encourage partners to do the same. And if someone isn’t telling you what they like, ask. There’s physical feedback, sure, and I totally get that asking “Does this feel good?” or “Can you show me how you like to be touched?” can seem like a ladyboner killer because shouldn’t you just know? But everyone likes different things and responds in different ways to them and if you aren’t sure about a partner’s physical signals and they aren’t offering verbal ones, ask. Even better: talk about it in advance. Memorize the phrases “What do you like?” and “What do you want?” and know your own answers, too. You can talk through it methodically over a yes-no-maybe list or flirtily by talking about that one time you had weirdly good sex in a bar bathroom or indirectly by mentioning the sexual dynamics that led to your last breakup (though don’t talk too much about your last breakup, okay?) or directly by saying “if you could only have one type of sex forever what would it be? For me it’s…” or any other of a million ways, but talk about it. Sex is fun. Talking about sex is fun. And sex is more fun when you talk about it, because then you can try to have the kinds of sex that everyone involved wants to have, instead of getting stuck in your head worrying about it.

And no one worth having sex with cares if you look goofy at that angle, I promise.

Carolyn Yates was formerly the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com. Her writing has appeared in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, Xtra!, Jezebel, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles by way of Montreal and Toronto. Find her on twitter or instagram.

Carolyn has written 946 articles for us.

1 Comment

  1. I really like this advice.
    Sometimes it’s hard and good, then easy and good. Then, inexplicably, frustratingly, impossibly hard again.
    It takes work and attention to get something right. To get something worth having. And that’s not a bad thing. We aren’t robots yet, thank god.

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