Am I gonna get an STI? Do I look fat? Is this immoral? When is that conference paper due, again? Is this weird-looking thing that I’m sucking on her clit?
These are probably not the thoughts you want to be thinking, right?
Yet such cognitive distractions can and do happen to all of us at some point during sex. And when they do, unsurprisingly, they negatively affect sexual functioning and satisfaction.
So who is more distracted, men or women, gays or straights, and what kinds of distractions bother them the most?
Prior research has found that women report more distracting thoughts about body image, while men are more distracted about their performance, but no one had studied whether that differs for gay and heterosexual men and women.
Until now. In this study published in 2012 in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers surveyed 100 gay/lesbian and 100 straight undergraduates (matched on gender, age, and ethnicity) about four types of cognitive distractions during sex.
Here is what they found.
Among heterosexuals, women reported more body image-based distractions during sex than men, while among sexual minority participants, men reported more body image-based distractions than women.
This is not too surprising – body image issues are the province of heterosexual women and gay men, as both of these groups desire to appeal to men, and men are generally more interested in their partner’s physical appearance than women.
Among both heterosexuals and sexual minorities, men reported higher levels of STI-based distractions than women, but this difference was particularly emphasized among sexual minorities.
Well, gay men are the population with the highest rates of HIV and other STIs, so no wonder they’d be most worried about this.
Heterosexual women reported more distractions related to moral concerns, guilt, and getting caught in the act than heterosexual men, but gay men reported more such distractions than lesbians.
This could be explained by different gender and sexual orientation norms in the United States. Among heterosexuals, female sexuality (particularly outside of marriage) is less accepted and more condemned than male sexuality, but when it comes to sexual minorities, there is less acceptance and more condemnation of male homosexuality than female homosexuality.
Finally, sexual minorities reported more distractions related to their physical performance than did heterosexual participants, although this was mostly driven by the lesbians reported more such distractions than heterosexual women.
It was unclear why lesbians would feel more incompetent to satisfy their partners than heterosexual women? Any ideas?
Lacefield, K., & Negy, C. (2012). Non-erotic cognitive distractions during sexual activity
in sexual minority and heterosexual young adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 391-400. doi: 10.1007/s10508-011-9792-7.