Spectatoring: What It Is and How to Break Free for Better Sex

Let's dive into a topic that might be affecting your sex life without you even realizing it: spectatoring.

Ever found yourself distracted during sex, worrying about how you look or if you're doing everything right? That's spectatoring. It's when those doubts and distractions creep in, pulling you out of the moment and making sex less enjoyable.

But don't worry, you're not alone, and there's a way to overcome it. In this article, we'll explore what spectatoring is and why it happens. More importantly, we'll provide practical tips, mindfulness exercises, and valuable resources to help you stay present and truly enjoy those intimate moments with your partner.

man and woman sitting in bed, the woman is under the sheets while the man sits on the side of the bed, both are looking at each other with a slight dissapointment

What is Spectatoring?

Spectatoring is when you get stuck in your head during sex, distracted by self-doubt and critical thoughts instead of enjoying the moment. The term was coined by sex researchers in the 1960s to describe the experience of mentally stepping outside of yourself and observing your performance rather than fully participating.

This can manifest in various ways, such as overthinking your actions, worrying about your appearance, or constantly seeking reassurance from your partner. Instead of focusing on pleasure and connection, you're fixated on your insecurities, which can significantly diminish your sexual enjoyment.

Why Does Spectatoring Happen?

Spectatoring can happen for a variety of reasons. Common causes include past sexual experiences that may have been negative or traumatic, leading to a lack of confidence. Body image issues also play a significant role; worrying about how you look can pull you out of the moment. Performance anxiety is another major factor – the pressure to perform well and please your partner can make it hard to relax and enjoy the experience.

Studies show that these types of distractions are pretty prevalent. According to research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, approximately 20% of sexually active individuals experience significant anxiety related to their sexual performance.1 Another study found that body image concerns affect nearly 30% of women and 20% of men during sex.2

These anxieties and distractions can lead to less satisfaction, reduced intimacy, and even avoidance of sexual activity altogether. Understanding why spectatoring happens is the first step toward overcoming it and improving your sexual experiences.

man and woman sitting at other ends of their bed, both are sad and frustrated

Real-Life Scenarios

To make spectatoring more understandable, let's look at a couple of real-life scenarios:

Sarah's Story: Sarah is a married woman who recently had her second child. She loves her husband deeply, but she can't help but feel self-conscious about her post-pregnancy body. Every time they're intimate, Sarah's mind drifts to thoughts about her stretch marks and whether her husband still finds her attractive. Instead of enjoying the moment, she's stuck worrying about her appearance, which makes it hard for her to fully connect with her husband.

Tom's Story: Tom is in a new relationship with someone he really likes. He's excited about their growing connection but feels anxious every time they get intimate. He constantly worries about his performance, whether he's doing things right, and whether his partner is truly enjoying it. This anxiety keeps him from being present and enjoying the experience, causing him to miss out on the intimacy and pleasure of the moment.

These scenarios show how spectatoring can disrupt the sexual experiences of people in different stages of their relationships. Whether it's body image issues or performance anxiety, these distractions prevent individuals from being fully present and connected with their partners.

The Impact of Spectatoring on Relationships

Spectatoring can have significant personal and relational consequences. On a personal level, it often leads to reduced sexual satisfaction. When you're preoccupied with doubts and self-criticism, it's hard to enjoy the moment, which can result in less pleasure and fewer orgasms. This can increase anxiety around sex, creating a cycle where you're even more likely to experience spectatoring in the future.

Relationally, spectatoring can create a noticeable disconnect between partners. If one partner is not fully present, the other may sense this lack of engagement and feel rejected or inadequate. Over time, this can strain the relationship, with both partners feeling less connected and more frustrated.

Experts agree on the negative impact of spectatoring. Dr. Emily Nagoski, a renowned sex educator and author, explains, "When people are spectatoring, they're not only missing out on their own pleasure, but they're also creating an emotional distance from their partner." 3 This emotional distance can erode the intimacy and trust that are crucial for a healthy sexual relationship.

Relationship counselors often stress the importance of communication in addressing these issues. As Dr. Laurie Mintz, a psychologist and sex therapist, notes, "Open communication about these anxieties can help couples find solutions together, fostering a stronger emotional and sexual bond."4  By discussing these feelings, couples can work towards more fulfilling and connected sexual experiences.

close up of the joyful couple's foreplay game, purple satin in the background

How to Stop Spectatoring: Practical Tips

One of the most effective techniques for staying in the moment during sex is mindfulness. Mindfulness helps you focus on the present and reduces the tendency to overthink and criticize yourself. By practicing mindfulness, you can learn how to stop negative thoughts during sex and fully enjoy the experience.

To enhance this practice and make it even more engaging and enjoyable, try incorporating our Foreplay Game and Naughty Game into your routine. These games are designed to help couples reconnect, stay in the moment, and deepen their pleasure.

Foreplay Game for couples is perfect for setting the mood and building anticipation. It guides you and your partner through playful, intimate activities that promote closeness and excitement. This game helps you focus on the present and enhances your emotional and physical connection, making every moment together more meaningful.

On the other hand, our Naughty Game adds an element of fun and adventure to your intimate moments. It encourages you to explore new sensations and desires, breaking from routine and creating excitement. The Naughty Game helps you stay engaged and present by focusing on enjoyment and exploration, ensuring you and your partner experience maximum pleasure.

Both of these games are invaluable tools for overcoming spectatoring. They transform mindfulness into a fun and interactive activity, allowing you to let go of distractions and immerse yourself fully in the experience. With the Foreplay Game for Couples and Naughty Game, you can create unforgettable intimacy, pleasure, and connection moments.

Step-by-Step Guide to Practicing Mindfulness During Sex

  1. Start with Deep Breathing:
    • Begin by taking deep, slow breaths. Inhale deeply through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. This helps calm your mind and brings your focus to the present moment.
  2. Focus on Physical Sensations:
    • Pay attention to the physical sensations in your body. Notice the warmth, pressure, and texture of your partner's touch. Concentrate on how your body feels rather than how it looks or performs.
  3. Use All Your Senses:
    • Engage all your senses to enhance the experience. Notice the sounds, scents, and sights around you. This helps anchor your mind in the present and away from distracting thoughts.
  4. Stay Present with Your Partner:
    • Maintain eye contact and focus on the connection with your partner. Share your feelings and sensations verbally if it helps you stay engaged.
  5. Accept and Let Go of Distracting Thoughts:
    • When negative or distracting thoughts arise, acknowledge them without judgment and gently bring your focus back to the present. Remind yourself that it's natural for thoughts to come and go.
  6. Practice Regularly:
    • Mindfulness is a skill that improves with practice. Incorporate mindfulness exercises into your daily routine, such as focused breathing or meditation, to make it easier to stay present during sex.

man and woman lays in bet, the couple is happy and looking at each other

Overcoming Overthinking During Sex

By consistently practicing these mindfulness techniques, you can learn how to stop overthinking during sex. The key is to focus on the process and sensations rather than the outcomes or performance. This shift in focus helps you stay connected with your partner and enhances your sexual experiences.

Remember, mindfulness takes time and practice. Be patient as you learn to incorporate these techniques into your intimate moments. By doing so, you can break free from spectatoring and enjoy a more fulfilling and present sexual relationship.

Recommended Resources

If you're struggling with spectatoring and looking to improve your sexual mindfulness, here are some excellent resources to help you along the way. These books can provide valuable insights and practical tools to enhance sexual wellness.

Helpful Books

  1. "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk
    • This book explores how trauma affects the body and mind. It provides insights into how past experiences can impact your current sexual experiences. It offers strategies for healing and reconnecting with your body.
  2. "Come As You Are" by Emily Nagoski
    • A must-read for understanding female sexuality, this book delves into the science of arousal and desire. It offers practical advice on overcoming sexual anxieties and embracing your unique sexual identity.
  3. "Mindfulness for Beginners" by Jon Kabat-Zinn
    • This book introduces the basics of mindfulness and how it can be applied to various aspects of life, including sex. It's a great starting point for anyone new to mindfulness practices.
loving couple cuddling in their bedroom, both are smiling


Spectatoring can be a significant barrier to enjoying a fulfilling and intimate sex life. By understanding spectatoring, why it happens, and how it impacts your relationship, you're already on the path to overcoming it. The key to breaking free from these distractions is mindfulness. By practicing mindfulness techniques and focusing on the present moment, you can learn to let go of negative thoughts and fully engage in the experience with your partner.

To make this journey even more enjoyable, consider incorporating our Foreplay Game for Couples and Naughty Game into your routine. These games help you stay in the moment, enhance your connection, and maximize your pleasure. They transform mindfulness into a fun and interactive activity, ensuring that you and your partner can create unforgettable moments of intimacy.

Don't hesitate to explore the recommended resources, including books, apps, and online tools, to support your journey toward better sexual wellness. Open communication with your partner and seeking professional guidance can also make a big difference.

Remember, be patient with yourself. Learning to stay present and connected takes time and practice. Still, the rewards of a deeper, more satisfying sexual connection are well worth the effort. Share your experiences, ask questions, and continue seeking information and support. Together, you and your partner can create a more intimate and enjoyable relationship free from the constraints of spectatoring.


FAQ: Understanding and Overcoming Spectatoring

1. What exactly is spectatoring, and how can I identify it in my own sexual experiences?

Spectatoring is when you get stuck in your head during sex, distracted by self-doubt and critical thoughts instead of enjoying the moment. Signs include overthinking your actions, worrying about your appearance, or seeking constant reassurance from your partner. If you focus more on your insecurities than the pleasure and connection you might be experiencing spectatoring.

2. Why do I get turned off during sex due to spectatoring?

Spectatoring can be triggered by various factors, including past negative sexual experiences, body image issues, and performance anxiety. These distractions create a mental barrier that prevents you from fully engaging in the moment, leading to decreased sexual satisfaction and a higher likelihood of becoming turned off during sex.

3. How can I stop negative thoughts during sex and stay in the moment?

Practicing mindfulness is a powerful technique for staying present during sex. Start with deep breathing to calm your mind, focus on the physical sensations in your body, engage all your senses, and maintain eye contact with your partner. Accept and let go of distracting thoughts without judgment, and practice these mindfulness exercises regularly to improve your ability to stay in the moment.

4. How can the Foreplay Game for Couples and Naughty Game help with spectatoring?

The Foreplay Game for Couples and Naughty Game are designed to make mindfulness fun and engaging. These games guide you and your partner through playful, intimate activities that promote closeness and excitement. By focusing on the present and enhancing your emotional and physical connection, these games help you let go of distractions and fully immerse yourself in the experience, making them excellent tools for overcoming spectatoring.



1. N. O. Rosen, J. P. Dubé, S. Corsini-Munt, A. Muise, Partners Experience Consequences, Too: A Comparison of the Sexual, Relational, and Psychological Adjustment of Women with Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder and Their Partners to Control Couples, The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Volume 16, Issue 1, January 2019, Pages 83–95, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.10.018

2. How comfortable are adults with their bodies?, https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/research/body-image-how-we-think-and-feel-about-our-bodies/body-image-adulthood

3. Emily Nagoski, PhD, Says “Pleasure Is the Measure” of a Great Sex Life, and Has the Game-Changing Advice All of Us Need, https://www.mariashriversundaypaper.com/emily-nagoski-come-together/

4. Stop Spectatoring: Mindfulness to Enhance Sexual Pleasure, https://www.drlauriemintz.com/post/stop-spectatoring-mindfulness-to-enhance-sexual-pleasure


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