There’s a lot of sexual pain around. That is, most of us want to do it and a surprising number have a real problem with it. Why might this be?
The act of sex is managed by that part of the nervous system that includes relaxation, restoration and, especially, bonding. It’s obvious isn’t it? Sex is about bonding. You have to feel ok about being so physically close to another human being that you relax your defences; you have to set aside the usual instinct to ‘keep a safe space around me’. To do this, you have to inhibit your adrenaline system. Yes, sex may be exciting, but to really relax into it and get the most from it, and allow yourself to feel the deliciousness of what you’re entitled to feel, biologically, you have to turn off the stress system.
And that’s the problem; we’re all over-adrenalized. Our stress hormone profiles are just too high. Our fight-flight-freeze systems are constantly or regularly activated by the high-octane, high-speed, high-achieving modern life. It’s just not compatible with real, ‘melt into one another’ love-making.
Another way of looking at it is this; the ‘bonding’ parts of the brain – largely central or ‘midline’ structures – are supposed to work without the survival parts of the brain (ancient, pre-reptilian brain) being activated. Again, this is kind of obvious; you don’t want to fight, flee or freeze at the same time as mate. These two parts of the brain (survival instinct and bonding instinct) are designed to inhibit each other. Most of us are running on an over-activated fight/fight/freeze system, which obstructs the bonding brain. In this state, feeling truly sexual is not easy.
So, simply put, healing sexual difficulties usually starts with learning how to come down from our adrenalinised states – which we are often unaware of (or deny).
Learning to notice what state your body and nervous system are in is therefore the first step.