Not paying attention during a boring work meeting is one thing. But when it comes to sex with our partners, surely we should be a little more focussed?
Not according to new research from Lenstore, which has found that almost half – a shocking 49% – find their minds wandering during the most intimate moments.
Whilst everyone’s attention span differs, research has revealed that the average adult human is only able to concentrate on a task for around 15 to 20 minutes, suggesting most of us are struggling to maintain focus for long periods of time.
Aside from sex, it also seems we're struggling to pay attention when partners, friends and family talk to us, and we can't follow a TV show, or even stick with watching a movie at home, because we're too busy scrolling on the phone.
A huge 72% find themselves drifting mentally when talking to friends, and 69% can't focus on talking to family. Conversational topics most likely to make us lose focus are gossip (27%), politics (26%) and when somebody's complaining- particularly about work (22%.)
A significant 44% of respondents also admit that they find themselves listening with one ear and "thinking about something else at the same time".
But while our lack of focus sounds actively ill-mannered, it's not simply a case of being bored with our partner's best intimate moves, or finding our friends dull.
It's more likely that two years of the pandemic has meant our brains are so stuffed with anxieties, new information and unfamiliar routines, it's become impossible to focus as fully as we once did. It may also be that your needs have changed - and you haven't realised.
Emotions Coach Jo Wheatley says: "People get easily distracted during sex or other activities when what they are doing is not aligned to their values.
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"At work, for example, if you are in a role where you are micromanaged and value independence, then you are likely to find yourself distracted by imagining being in a new job.
"Equally, if you are often distracted during sex it may be that your relationship values are not aligned. You may have a value around adventure, say, and the sex may have become repetitive and predictable. Meanwhile, your partner may value comfort over adventure."
And feeling distracted serves a purpose, she adds. "We often distract ourselves to re-energise ourselves. When we think about something we enjoy, like going to our favourite concert, it can quickly invoke pleasurable feelings."
Less positively, she adds: "We may have a belief that we are not capable or worthy, and so we distract ourselves to take the pain and discomfort of that away."
How can we learn to pay attention more effectively?
"People with strong focus prioritise and then take action," explains Wheatley. "They set goals which are well formed which means they are in control of them, they honour what’s most important to them and they have the beliefs and resources they need to achieve them."
On a smaller level, she adds: "Identify any source of distraction and remove them – it may be obvious things like removing games or apps on your phone that distract you.
"Explore when you find it easiest to be focused – what's present then? - and then bring those elements into situations where you need to improve your focus."
Mindfulness teacher Amy Polly says: "When it comes to paying attention, start making a conscious effort to do it during everyday tasks. You're doing the washing up, having a shower, walking or making a cuppa anyway, so why not turn these into moments to retrain your brain?
"Tuning into our senses even during the most mundane of tasks is scientifically proven, along with meditation, to create new pathways in our brains."
"The more we do this the easier is becomes to spot when we aren’t paying attention. People on my courses are astounded when they realise of how much they are on autopilot and how much they aren’t noticing."
When it comes to paying attention to our partners - particularly during intimate moments - it's important to get the environment right, says productivity coach Juliet Landau-Pope.
"Declutter your bedroom or workspace. Clutter is a subjective concept – it’s not about being tidy or minimalist but rather about removing surplus stuff that reminds you of unfinished household tasks."
She advises people remove mobile phones and other digital devices from the room. "It’s not enough to mute or switch them off."
And if you're still thinking at a mile a minute, rather than sinking into an embrace, she says: "Write down your worries. Using a notebook, bullet journal or an app to create checklists are a great way of clearing your head."
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