If you’re distracted during sex, you’re not going to have a good time. Webwork, your roommate walking in and whether you want to move in with your boo next year are all just not sexy thoughts. And once they’re in your mind, the quality of the sex you’re having deteriorates quickly. You’re not so hard, you’re not so wet, and it snowballs.

We all have a little neurotic person in our head who, if not properly soothed, will shout over all our good feelings during sex. “What if you I something that will scare my partner away for ever? What if my roommate walks in? What if you can’t finish? What if you finish too soon? You shouldn’t be doing this. You shouldn’t be doing this with this person.”

Anything that distracts from how great the act of sexual play is, making the sex worse.

So what do we do? It would be simple to say we should shut that little neurotic person up, as if it were that easy. But that little guy is there for a reason; he’s protecting you by posing some very important questions as well as some not-so-important ones. To calm him down, you have to actually address his concerns.

If you really struggle with distractions during sex, pay close attention to the things that go through your mind, and before having sex again, sit yourself down, pause and bring up all that stuff up again.

Some things are easy to deal with.

Worried about how much homework you have to do? Remind yourself how rejuvenated you’ll feel after sex and how ready to work you’ll be.

Worried about getting walked in on? Lock the door. Deliberately giving yourself time to think about all these things will help you to remember them all.

Often, though, distractions are far more challenging beasts than what errands you forgot that day. When people are really distracted during sex, it’s usually some type of nervousness.

After working through the easy stuff, ask yourself the big questions. “Am I okay with hooking up? Will I be willing to tell my friends the next day? Will this partner still respect me if something embarrassing happens? How do I need to prepare my body?”

Have an honest conversation with yourself. It’s all about consent, but in this case, the consent you’re looking for is from yourself. In an ideal world, you could ask these questions of yourself out loud with your partner, but I find that’s a much harder thing to do. It involves so much vulnerability that it can be hard not to put pressure on yourself and just be honest. So do it on your own without the distraction of another person’s thoughts, give yourself time to think and organize your thoughts in your mind.

Once you’ve given yourself the go-ahead, then you can have the equivalent discussion with your partner. And don’t skip this step! One can only self-soothe their own doubt and self-consciousness so much. The questioning you do on your own is largely about self-awareness and identifying your own needs, but it is also preparation for the conversation you should have with your partner. Nothing will be more powerful than your partner actually telling you, “I respect you,” or “It’s okay if you can’t finish,” or whatever else you need them to say.

Discussing your worries around sex–with your partner and with your self–will make them fade away. And the best part is that the worries don’t just disappear; they’re transformed into confidence. Super sexy confidence.

To submit an anonymous question, visit sex-thect.tumblr.com/ask.

Armstrong is a member of

the class of 2016.

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