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Spectatoring is the act of having sexual interactions while focusing on the self rather than the sensory experiences of the sex act. Instead, the individual is like a spectator to the act, rather than an active participant. Men do this more often than women, although it is a growing problem among females.
The term spectatoring was coined in approximately 1970 by forward-thinking American sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson.
When people are spectatoring, they are monitoring and judging themselves and their partner having sex, rather than giving themselves over to the experience. The thoughts someone has while they are spectatoring are often very critical. They might worry about their body or their sexual performance, for example.
Studies show women who participate in spectator sex are less satisfied with their sex lives. They report fewer orgasms and fake orgasm more often than women who are more engaged with their sexual activity. While little research has been done, it stands to reason that men’s satisfaction will also decrease if they are spectatoring during sex. After all, there’s nothing sexy about worry.
Spectatoring doesn’t just diminish sexual pleasure. It can also lead to fear, anxiety, and sexual dysfunction, so it’s important to break the cycle. This can be achieved using mindfulness.
Mindfulness encourages participants to notice distracting thoughts without dwelling on them. Instead, participants are encouraged to release these thoughts without judgment before returning to the activity at hand. Researchers state mindfulness can greatly enhance sexual pleasure for women. Mindfulness can be practiced during any activity, even mundane ones like washing dishes or eating a meal. The more you practice mindfulness, the easier it will be to apply to sex and the more satisfying your sex life will become.