Earlier this year I learned about and was fascinated by "the attention economy". Basically, the theory states that a human being's attention is now considered a resource and a commodity and various things (software applications, device/electronic companies, advertisers, other content creators) are all competing for our attention. Makes sense in this 21st century world, right? But why am I, a Certified Sex Therapist, writing about it? Because attention economics has direct applicability to human sexuality.
Many of my clients have some sort of complaint about their sex life. Whether it's a sexual functioning problem (like ED or inability to orgasm or problems with arousal) or a satisfaction issue ("I don't feel my partner and I are connecting during sex" or "Our sex life has become routine"), a lot of the problem is related to attention and focus. During sex, there are SO MANY THINGS competing for our attention: your feet might be cold, or your partner's breath might be unsavory, or the garbage truck out on the street might be making a racket, or you notice your worries about whether your body will do what you want it to do, or you worry if your partner is enjoying themselves. This doesn't sound that different from modern life where my iPhone game, TV, Netflix, latest YouTube video, texts from my friends, and even Facebook are all calling out to me, vying for my attention.
I find that many of my clients have never actually talked about, let alone paid attention to, where they put their attention and focus. Not just during sex, but also in life. For many, attention is a passive process. And over time this passivity becomes a habit and unconscious. A perfect breeding ground for sexual problems to occur in the bedroom!
So one of the things we talk about in my office and I teach my clients who come in with an attention-related sexual problem is how to pay attention to certain things while tuning out or ignoring other things. The shift from passive to active (or intentional attention) can be difficult initially but most folks generally seem to figure it out. It's a joy to observe.