Two years ago, Jenna, 34, remembers having sex at least once a day — if not more — with her now fiancé. More recently? They were happy if they were in the mood twice a week.
While she knows part of the shift has to do with simply becoming more comfortable as a couple, she feels there’s more at play, and it has everything to do with the content of their news alerts.
“It’s the way the world has changed, to be honest,” says Jenna. “At least once a day, there’s some sort of crisis, and it’s really hard to get in the mood when you see a tweet or headline or news segment about something horrible happening.” Her fiancé agrees. “We’re on the same page. We’ve had conversations lately about how it feels Putin has done more than just interfering with the U.S. election — he’s interfered with millions of relationships, too. I can be absolutely certain Putin never came up on a date two years ago.
The recent intrusion of negative, depressing, incendiary, or scary news is disturbing and crucial to pay attention to. It compels people to take action, call their senators, and become activists for causes like gun safety and immigration. It’s not a solution to simply turn off your notifications until further notice and get naked with your SO to pass the time — but is there some way to reconcile being a responsible citizen with being in a happy and sexually thrilling relationship?
“Stress affects us physically and emotionally, so it’s no surprise that it can have a huge negative impact on our sexuality as well. If you’re worried, worn down, frustrated, discouraged, or hopeless, those feelings are probably going to follow you into the bedroom,” notes Jared DeFife, PhD, a clinical psychologist in the Atlanta area. But, DeFife says, men may have an easier time compartmentalizing, meaning that their anger and frustration about the state of the union doesn’t necessarily affect the state of their unions.
This manifests differently for everyone, of course. For some women, metabolizing news-induced stress can result in an increased desire for human contact. “Stress [coming from the news cycle] may trigger compulsivity and addictive behaviors, and those issues can affect a person’s sex life. Some people may become less sexual in a compulsive/addictive cycle, while others may become more sexual,” says Robert Weiss, a sex addiction therapist and CEO of Seeking Integrity.
So, whichever camp you fall into, what can you do?
The key is creating boundaries. First, remember: It’s okay to be an engaged citizen and have a healthy sex life. It’s not that you should ignore what’s going on around you. But filtering and focusing, like channeling your passion for politics into a local race, or diving deep into several key issues, can be less all-consuming and more productive.
Second, it’s time to kick Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity, or whoever your political commentator of choice out of bed. Keep your phone on airplane mode — or put your phone to bed — and avoid watching the news before you go to sleep.
Finally, it’s the same old advice you’ve heard for ages, no matter who the president has been. Unplug, unplug, unplug. Will you miss something if you’re without Wifi for 48 hours? To be honest, you probably will. But unless you’re a news leader or the leader of a country, the chances are unlikely the news will directly affect you right this second, and if it does, you can bet someone will tell you. “People are sometimes spending more time scrounging through the daily headlines than they are diving in to the latest breaking news going on in their partner’s life. We’ve got to learn how to better moderate our exposure to these unrelenting news streams of stress,” says DeFife. Take a beat to actually be present when you engage with your partner; then engage with the news.
As cheesy as it sounds, taking stock of what you are thankful for in your life can help you gear up to face a difficult environment. And, sometimes, when your Twitter feed makes you want to scream, “touch more,” says DeFife. “Physical touch and comfort from your partner is an incredible, all-natural stress reliever.”
So yes, take political action — but don’t ditch the affection. We’re all too well aware that a hug can’t save the world, but alongside action plans, senator calls, marches, and volunteering, it can’t hurt either.
For full article, visit InStyle.