Regardless of what you may think. Sex happens in the brain. Our ability to feel desire, the things that turn us on, the things that make... continue reading
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Regardless of what you may think. Sex happens in the brain. Our ability to feel desire, the things that turn us on, the things that make us reach climax all happen in the brain. So, if you want more sex, it’s reasonable to assume you should know more about the brain. I’ll give you the primer version.
Our brains are hard wired to respond to perceived threat in ways that will preserve our ability to survive. These automatic reactions are called “Survival mechanisms”. Our brain fires off chemicals that provoke us into feelings of fear for our survival. Then we have biologically programmed ways to react to fear that aid us in surviving whatever it is that is threatening our survival. You don’t really have a choice about what you are feeling when you perceive yourself to be in a threatening situation. Your brain takes over. Our brains are very powerful in affecting how we feel and how we respond.
You see our brains have been programmed through biology and culture to respond in ways that will insure our survival in primitive situations. Your brain doesn’t really get it that if you perceive your job is being threatened you will not die. It really feels like you will. Your brain doesn’t know that if your husband/wife/partner is angry with you and you think they might leave you that you won’t die. Your brain doesn’t know that when a friend calls your character into question, that you won’t die. Your brain doesn’t discriminate between actual threat for your survival and emotional threat.
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Our brains are divided into sections. As we evolved as a species we went from depending on simple functions to the very complex brain that we now have as human beings. Our reptilian ancestors brains comprised of three cleanly defined sections: the front part allows for smell, the middle for vision, and the rear allows us balance and coordination. And those basic survival instincts were cordoned off in a space between the smell and vision sections, a kind of command post with the scientific name of “diencephalon”. This part of the brain holds our drives for food, our “fight-or-flight” aggression reactions, and of course, sex.
Our brains further evolved into what is known as the “mammalian” brain when our left and right cerebral hemispheres developed. More and more circuits had to be added to process the more complex functions of the life and culture of our mammalian ancestors and our brains grew in size. But we still rely on that command post to assist us in our primary need: survival. This relic of the past fights our evolved brains more flexible reactions and tends to take over when we perceive that we need them.
This very powerful tiny walnut sized part of our brain, set inside our brain stem, is called our “hypothalamus”. It injects our system with electrical stimulus evoking anger, anxiety and acute fear. Most of the time, we are able to maintain mastery over this part of our brain. But now and again our animal senses tell us that our survival or our well-being is being challenged and that package of survival programs, called “emotions” erupt.
It’s like you have two brains in one body. Your emotional states that evolved to help you survive; and the other which is ruled by reason. The old brain; and the new brain in one package: your skull.
Okay, now, back to sex…
When we feel emotional threat, we respond with this primitive part of our brain. We feel scared, and our defenses go on autopilot. We feel angry and protective and either withdraw or go into attack mode to regain a sense of control. While it is possible to feel a need to have sex from this place, it’s more of a desire for dominance than it is the kind of intimacy that we most need and want.
Women tend to be turned off by men who display the need for this type of sexual encounter, if they aren’t it’s because they have never experienced the other kind. And even if they will put up with it for a while, eventually they will stop wanting to participate because it just doesn’t feel good. It feels scary and unsafe.
Safety is what leads to continued, warm intimate and frequent sex. When we feel safe with our partner our brains kick into a mode that allows us to drop our boundaries and allow ourselves to feel the vulnerability we need to feel in order to experience deep sexual intimacy. Being afraid triggers the old brain into survival mode and sets up firm boundaries that keep distance between us. ant More Sex
So, if you want more sex, work toward more emotional safety in your relationship. Emotional safety is accomplished by awareness of and sensitivity to what our partner is feeling. It means being aware that when our partner feels threatened and is yelling or acting angry toward us, we listen to what is underneath their angry behavior. We ask them for more information about what may have hurt them and own up to our part in whatever occurred. This doesn’t mean passively letting them have their way, it means sharing about what we honestly feel and negotiating a result that works for both of you.
Our old brain is tricky. It can make us think that something is threatening when it’s not. It can make us think we are being attacked when we are not. Being sensitive to what may trigger our partner into feeling they are being attacked helps us be more aware of what might be standing in the way of more intimacy (i.e. more sex).