Between work, family and life’s many other demands, sex can quickly fall to the bottom of a person’s to-do list. Even when stressed-out, couples do have time to connect physically, they are often so tired, worried and disconnected, such that sex is the last thing on their minds.
Stress might also affect men and women differently. It is believed that men and women both went into “fight-or-flight” mode when faced with stressful situations, as this is what early humans would have done when confronted with dangers, such as wild animals.
However, belief that women actually go into “tend-or-befriend” mode when stressed. Division of labour in the early days of humankind meant that men often went out to hunt, while women stayed “home” with the children. When dangerous situations arose, women don’t go out to battles, but stay back, caring for the young and bonding with other women.
This automatically means that for today’s relationships, when confronted with stress, men tend to want to escape, maybe disappearing into their man-cave with their favourite video game or a six-pack. Many men release stress with some type of physical exertion like exercise or sexual activity.
Women, on the other hand, might be more interested in bonding and curling up on the couch, wanting to cling close to their family. They might reach out to their friends for a long talk or simply get lost in the latest episode of scandal. Whatever their comfort of choice, sex is often the last thing on a woman’s mind after the end of a long day, especially when feeling physically and emotionally drained.
Though one cannot generalise with these examples; while men often use sex as a way to relieve stress, certain types of stress can also make men shut down sexually. For instance, if a man is worried about his job or his financial situation, he may withdraw from sex. Many men define masculinity as ability to take care of one’s family. If they feel they are failing in that front, it often negatively impacts their desire and their ability to perform in the bedroom.
Here are some other things to keep in mind when dealing with stress and sex:
•Don’t wait until the end of the day to have sex; try finding alternate times to enjoy sexual pleasure. Instead of waiting until 11.00 p.m. when you are exhausted and just want to fall into bed, consider early morning sex or having sex in the shower before heading out for work.
•Don’t write-off sexual pleasure. This doesn’t mean that you should have sex when you really aren’t in the mood. It does mean you should be open to the idea of having sex and indulge in plenty of kissing and physical affection throughout the day. Even if it doesn’t lead to sex, affection will keep you bonded and more ready for sex when the time is right.
•Take care of your health. It is easy to turn to food or alcohol or other substances for comfort when you are stressed, but doing so will only wreak further havoc on your sexual desire. Instead, utilise healthy stress-management tools. Exercise frequently, eat well and make your health a priority. Sex can be an important part of a healthy lifestyle. Not only does sex burn calories and make you feel good, it also can decrease stress.