Northwestern students: We need to talk about sex, and not just for one reserved week per year. We need to talk about it always, because sex is one of the most innately-human actions a person can partake in, and yet, one of the most shunned topics of conversation (maybe ever). That's why NBN is installing this Q&A column, because if you want to be a 'Cat in the bedroom, you sure as hell should – for yourself and for current and future sexual partners.
What is a 'Cat in the bedroom? Someone who has the confidence of 1,000 Tyler Durdens, the communication skills of 1,000 Taco Bell Tweet-Composers, the willingness to learn of 1,000 freshman taking Russian Lit and the willingness to give of 1,000 Martha Stewarts making Christmas cookies. And, above all, someone who has basic human tolerance and compassion.
This week, I'd love to touch upon a few sex things that are springing upon conversation in part due to the springtime weather. Springtime: The time when our serotonin levels spike and we are motivated to leave our dorms and apartments in search for more serotonin in the form of love and bonking, not unlike the humping bunnies found in any given location on campus during the hours of 5-8pm.
Let's dive in with a couple of Spring Quarter sex concerns:
1) Why is my anxiety about the end of the year and future stuff ruining my sex drive?
Our ability to feel fear is nature's way of keeping us alive, ready to flee or fight dangerous things. However, an upcoming job interview is not a saber-tooth tiger about to eat us alive, though it may feel the same. When you are highly anxious, your entire body responds with a barrage of symptoms not unlike the kind you may get before public speaking in front of a giant crowd or in line for a deathly roller coaster: stomachs may cramp up, heads may feel dizzy, hearts may race and thud. Your sex drive, while not confined to one part of the body, may become affected as well, though not as immediately. This happens because our brains are our most important sexual organs; they communicate to us when we're turned on, when we're feeling wonderful sensations, what we want to happen next with the sexy naked person in front of us, etc. When we are stressed and anxiety-prone, our brains cannot concentrate on sexy time as easily; they're too distracted. Anxiety often manifests itself in little triggers; we notice our heart beating faster from some stressful email and we hold onto that stress and build upon it instead of letting it go. Here are some tips for moving past anxiety and growing back a healthy libido.
It does not have to be high-impact or fat-burning crazy stuff, just activities that get the body moving. Even long, brisk walks or dancing for a set amount of time in your room will do. You want to get that blood flowing and those endorphins pumping, because that means easier genital arousal and happier mood. What's not to like?
Practice mindful distraction
This means finding ways of distracting yourself from anxiety-causing things by doing other things that call for lots of concentration, like artwork, reading Game of Thrones, making friendship bracelets ('tis the season for them), doing crosswords or trying to beat 2048. Through this mindful distraction, you will calm down and make your brain more ready for sexy thoughts.
Masturbate (a lot)
Seriously, this seems like a given, but many people forget that they have the ability to spike their libidos in their own hands. Literally. When people achieve orgasm, it simultaneously allows their bodies to relax (to the point of drowsiness, so a great tool for insomniatic racing thoughts) and re-arouse (so that you can eventually add a partner into the mix). Also, it serves as a no-pressure situation to get your groove back; you are the only one in charge of your pleasure while going solo, so why not treat yourself? Buy a new sex toy, watch a new type of porn, imagine new and awesome fantasies. You deserve some you-time. Put that in your G-Cals. And if you are feeling consistently anxious, don't hesitate to call NU's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at (847) 491-2151 to talk to someone about stress management and anxiety reduction strategies.
2) In honor of the recent High Holidays…does weed make sex better or worse?
Short answer: Both. This is a super interesting topic talk about, because weed (marijuana if we're being formal) is classified in its own category of drug; neither a depressant nor stimulant, instead a unique mild-to-moderate psychoactive. Weed acts as a magnifying glass of sorts on our already-present state of minds, making whatever mood we were in previous to imbibing a lot more apparent. Michael Pollan, author of "The Botany of Desire," talks about the effects of marijuana on the brain, and shares that tetrahydracannabinol (THC) binds to cannabinoids naturally-occurring in the body, temporarily slowing down time and increasing sensory experiences. "The human cannabinoid system evolved to help us endure (and selectively forget) the routine slings and arrows of life so that we can get up in the morning and do it all over again. It is the brain’s own drug for coping with the human condition.” says Pollan of the science behind cannabinoids of plants and ourselves.
A perk of stoned sex is that it becomes a novel and mind-blowing sensory playground if you're feeling great and going into the experience with a positive outlook. A crappy part of stoned sex is that if you are in any sort of negative place beforehand, getting high may not be the magic ingredient for mind-blowing orgasms; it may, in fact, make you feel worse, and totally not in the sexy mindset at all. Another crappy side effect is dry mouth, which can possibly affect your ability to perform top-notch oral.
Basically, everything with weed is individual, so it's impossible to make the call of whether it makes sex better or worse. I can tell you is that it is important to a) stay positive before and after smoking/ingesting, b) stay in constant verbal communication with your partner while having high sex to avoid any confusion and stay on-track to pleasure and c) never let someone pressure you into partaking … do it on your own terms, and do it safely and responsibly.