A bad breakup has made it hard for me to enjoy sex with other women. What gives?

Q:I’m a guy in my 30s. I have a career military, I travel a lot and I'm single. Had a bad breakup awhile back that messed my head up pretty bad. Recently, I was on leave and met a woman. I absolutely think she’s amazing. I haven’t felt anything like this, especially since my last relationship ended. I feel like she has brought me back to life. But it seems like she doesn’t feel the same way about me. I was having sex with another woman while on leave, but I couldn’t even finish …. So I faked it and sent the woman on her way. What am I to do?
A: Wow. That seems like quite a predicament to be in. I get having sex with a willing partner, although I’m curious about your thought processes leading up to the act itself. How did you decide to go through with sex with one woman, when I am going to presume your mind was already otherwise occupied? And if you thought you could make it through the act for the physical release, what happened along the way that stopped you from completing it? Where did you get stuck, or allow your mind to wander too far from the current moment and person you were with?

Does this happen often? I have found, from time to time, that being present with my current partner during sex has fluctuated throughout the years. Occasionally I am in a relationship with someone, and my mind will venture to other people (especially to achieve climax). Currently, I am with someone and my mind never veers off course. We’re not always that lucky. I would challenge you to incorporate the person you are having sex with to become part of the fantasy in your mind, if possible. If your mind has ventured into some different territory, see if you can’t make the person with you the main role. At least then she is still part of it.

There are also mindfulness techniques that could put you in the present and hopefully allow you to climax. Focus on how your body feels and responds to the sexual activity, rather than the person you’re with. Try to describe to yourself in your mind how your body responds, how your penis feels inside of this woman, etc. At the very least, be present in your body. Feel her skin against yours. Feel the sensation of her hands on you, how she feels wrapped around you. Focusing on the here and now eliminates the ability to be elsewhere at a time when maybe you need to be present.

Alternately, it seems like this other woman is quite important to you. You say she "brought you back to life." That is attributing a great deal of importance and power to one person, while negating anything you have done for yourself. I’m glad someone has helped you realize that your emotional life didn’t end with your last relationship. However, this woman is really just helping you understand that you can do it all again; you can meet someone, fall in love, have sex, be happy. Are you sure she is who you feel like that about, or have you confused your profound appreciation for her role in your healing with a romantic role? I’m not saying you don’t have real feelings for her. I’m not saying there isn’t a possibility it could all work. What I am saying is that you have to give yourself some credit for moving on, even that's what you have to do with this new love interest in your life.

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Written by Karen Washington
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Karen Washington is a graduate of the Adler School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She specializes in sex therapy, with a foundation in communication and self esteem. Karen works with couples and individuals through discrepancy, dysfunction and disorder to achieve their desired sex life. She firmly believes in presenting education and information through the lens of humor, especially when it comes to sex. 

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