When it comes to problems in the sack, what’s really to blame? (Photo: Getty Images)
In a perfect world, sex with your partner would always be amazing, filled with rainbows and glitter and fireworks during the grand finale. But, siiiigh. This is not a perfect world, and as such, IRL sex can be messy and complicated. When that happens, the root cause usually has something to do with a guy’s nerves, booze, or even a physical condition.
But new research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that there are actually two more surprising reasons to add to the list: a man’s relationship with his mother as a child, and how old he was when he first fell in love.
For the study, researchers at Charles University in Prague interviewed 960 men, ages 15 to 88. They asked them a bunch of questions about their sex lives, like whether they are prone to premature ejaculation and how long their sex sessions typically last. Then, on an even deeper personal level, they asked them to describe their relationship with their mothers growing up, and how old they were when they first fell in love. The idea behind the entire set of questions was to see just how much a guy’s psychological state impacts his physical one.
So, the results? It turns out that dropping the “L” bomb later in life, as well having a strained relationship with mom as a child, were associated with having more sexual dysfunction in the bedroom. The researchers suggest that the reason for both findings is psychological — not physiological.
“The association of poorer current sexual function with (historical) older age at first being in love might suggest some enduring conflict regarding sexuality and/or intimacy,” they write in the study. And as for the mother thing? “One explanation for this finding is that psychogenic factors (when a physical illness stems from an emotional stress) may play a more important role,” they say. So basically, if a guy has intimacy issues stemming from childhood in any way, it could impact his sexual performance later in life.
Of course, this study was merely associational, and did not prove cause and effect — which means that falling in love later and/or having a bad relationship with your mother as a child doesn’t necessarily cause you to have more sexual dysfunction down the line. But what we do know for sure is that this study is in line with a whole slew of previous research on the psychology of sex, the majority of which has found that, for the most part, sex is waaaaay more psychological than we realize.
“Some folks have trouble focusing on the moment during sex due to stress/anxiety, overactive minds, trouble letting go, and relaxing. Others have more serious psychological issues which may impede intimacy — and it’s important to tease out which camp you belong to,” Rachel Sussman, LCSW, a relationship specialist in New York City, tells Yahoo Health.
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If you or your partner fall into the latter camp, like many of the people in the study, it’s best to get some counseling to talk these issues through with a professional. “These issues may be related to trust, unmet expectations, and other loose ends that need to be tied up. You need to get to the root of what is really troubling you and make a repair before you can move forward,” Sussman continues.
Otherwise, if you’re just bugging about work or anxious about your social life or whatever else, try getting into yoga to calm your mind. And always, always look your partner in the eye as much as possible during sex — that takes you out of your head and into the moment.
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