Sex Can Change in the Blink of An Eye
There are a lot of ways that sex can go badly. Miscommunications, differences in desire, and other mishaps can happen to anyone. I recently ran across something interesting that made me stop and think about how that can play out.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in almost 80% of car crashes and 65% of near-crashes, the driver was distracted within 3 seconds before the event. Things might look like they’re under control, but if you aren’t paying attention, it can become dangerous really quickly. People often think that they can predict when it’s ok to multi-task, but dangerous situations can show up faster than we can react.
I think that this says a lot about sex. Sometimes, we get caught up in our fantasies. Or maybe we get tunnel vision and become so focused on our physical experiences that we might stop paying attention to our partners. And when those sorts of things happen, it’s easy to go faster, deeper, harder, or simply further than the other person wants.
I want to be very clear that this isn’t meant as an excuse for any actions that hurt another person. I certainly don’t think this absolves anyone of responsibility for their actions or the need to make amends when we hurt someone. For that matter, I think we need to be careful to recognize that selfishness and malice can also lead people to do things that their partners don’t want to do. But even with the best of intentions and with no desire to harm anyone, we can still sometimes go too far, simply because our attention is elsewhere. I know that there have been times when I’ve been distracted or caught up in tunnel vision and had a misstep.
Some of this is rooted in our habits. According to that car accident study, “drivers who engage frequently in distracting activities are more likely to be involved in an inattention-related crash or near-crash. ” I suspect that similar things happen with sex. If we have habits of distraction, it’s easier to become distracted. And conversely, people who practice mindfulness techniques like meditation, yoga, or tantra often report that as they develop more skill at staying present in the moment, they become more able to give their attention to a sex partner and respond to the ever-shifting experience. I still think that fantasies can be a lot of fun, both during sex and at other times. The challenge is being able to enjoy them without losing the connection with the other person.
It seems likely to me that finding ways to become more present during our sexual experiences is similar to developing mindfulness practices more generally. When we do that, we very well might be more graceful in the inevitable moments when one person zigs and the other zags. If we can manage that, we’ll be able to keep some of those times from becoming mishaps or crashes. And that is a lot more fun.