Both men and women have difficulty being fully present during a sexual experience. This occurs more often during partnered experiences; however, I have seen many clients who experience this absentmindedness from their body also during solo sexual activity.
In my practice of sex therapy, I often encounter clients who have difficulty paying attention to the sensations their bodies receive via their own or their partner’s touch. They describe their mind wandering to all kinds of topics that are not related to the situation at hand: what to do afterwards, the weekly grocery list, phone calls one should not forget, etc. Unfortunately, the body cannot really get aroused when the brain is not focused on what is happening. This difficulty in being present may have various reasons. Our culture is performance focused and the focus on focusing on one’s body without judgement is not generally valued or promoted. Additionally, there could be anxiety driven by body shame, lack of awareness of sexual entitlement, embarrassment, partner related ambivalence or resentment, concern regarding sexual functioning and ability to respond.
A central part of the work to overcome this difficulty to be present is to learn to engage in mindfulness practice. Often, we start with a general mindfulness approach which then is expanded to include physical sexual awareness. This work can be done with individuals as well as couples.
For further reading on this topic see: Lori Brotto: Better Sex through Mindfulness. The work described in this book is geared towards women but applies to men just as much.