Married adults who are more aware of the present moment tend to have higher levels of sexual satisfaction, according to new research published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. The research suggests that mindfulness plays an important role in sexual wellbeing.
“I’ve been studying sex for some time and a number of years ago, I was introduced to mindfulness. Sex and mindfulness just seemed like a natural fit. People often struggle to feel connection and purpose in sex,” said study author Chelom E. Leavitt, an assistant professor at Brigham Young University.
“It may initially seem a little counter-intuitive, but slowing the experience down, being less goal-oriented, and more intentional, actually helps people feel better about themselves, closer to their partner, and more satisfied with the sexual experience.”
“When I teach sexual mindfulness to couples, most are a little skeptical at first. However, as they practice, they are amazed at the importance of awareness, curiosity, acceptance and letting go of self- and partner-judgment.”
Previous research has found that women who practice mindfulness meditation are more likely to report better sexual functioning and higher levels of sexual desire. But the researchers were interested in examining the potential influence of sexual mindfulness in particular, meaning the tendency to be aware of and accept one’s thoughts and emotions without judgment during sex.
For their study, the researchers surveyed 194 married, heterosexual individuals who were 35 to 60 years old. Leavitt and her colleagues found that more sexually mindful participants tended to be more satisfied with their relationships and sex lives. They also had better self-esteem compared to less mindful participants.
“The average person can improve their sexual relationship with a little instruction and practice. It doesn’t require new positions or special skill. Better sex may be as simple as slowing down, being less judgmental about yourself and your partner, and paying attention to touch, arousal, and the connection felt during sex,” Leavitt told PsyPost.
The association between mindfulness and sexual satisfaction was stronger among female participants, suggesting it may play a more important role for women.
“There are lots of questions still to be answered,” Leavitt said. “I just finished an intervention (a follow up study to this one) that taught couples about sexual mindfulness. We found significant positive results in the pilot study and are now doing a larger study that examines couples over time. Some people with high anxiety may find it is difficult to be mindful, but most people can learn this skill with a little guidance and practice.”
“This research is refreshing because it is science based — not some trendy solution. It is exciting for couples to learn simple skills that effectively help them create more meaning and joy in their romantic and sexual relationship,” Leavitt added.
The study, “The Role of Sexual Mindfulness in Sexual Wellbeing, Relational Wellbeing, and Self-Esteem“, was authored by Chelom E. Leavitt, Eva S. Lefkowitz, and Emily A. Waterman.