3 Emotions That Control Sex And Your Ability To Enjoy It

Emotions are running your sex life!

laughing couple in bed getty

Sex and emotions affect each other more than you think.

Emotions control sex. They determine what you want in bed, how much you enjoy the sex, and if you even want it at all.

As a sex therapist, this is something I remind my clients of all the time because it’s easily forgotten. 

We’ve been led to believe sexuality is a purely biological entity, that our sexual self is somehow separate from the rest of ourselves. 


But the truth of the matter is that your sexuality is deeply intertwined with the rest of you. And this is why sexual problems can hit hard — and hurt. 

RELATED: Fire Up Your Sex Drive By Understanding The Emotions Of Sex

Since sex and emotions are intertwined, here are 3 emotions that control sex and your ability to enjoy it.

1. Irritability 

Irritability is seldom an aphrodisiac. In fact, for most, irritability turns off libido, because being irritated is a feeling that fosters boundary-setting — not connection.

However, there are times when you want to have sex with your partner even if you’re annoyed with them or someone else. 


While irritability doesn’t have to affect the sexual experience, you’ll probably find it does.

Things such as emotional intimacy and orgasms can be harder to achieve while having sex and being annoyed. It can also feel more challenging to strike a connection with your partner or want to give them pleasure.

2. Worry 

Worry is a prime example of how emotions control sex. When you’re worried, it’s harder to be in the moment. And when your brain is all over the place and focused on potential dangers, it’s harder to get in the mood for sex or enjoy it.

Your brain is your largest sexual organ.

This means it needs to be focused on the things that get you going. If it’s focused on worrying about the kids, how to get a new job, or if your spouse really is enjoying themselves — you’ll probably struggle to enjoy it, too.


However, worry and anxiety don’t always stand in the way of great sex or libido. How much these feelings affect your desire for sex partly depends on your attachment pattern, too.

RELATED: What Does Emotionless Sex Mean — And When Is It A Problem?

3. Happiness 

Happiness and joy are all about connecting, getting close, and sharing enjoyment. This helps explain why happiness makes for more desire and better sex. 

If you’re happy, you’re more likely to be present in the moment, which means more sexual desire and arousal.

This, in turn, might mean more orgasms all-round. Plus, when you’re happy you’re more likely to want to give and receive pleasure which makes you a more generous partner in bed — and a better one.


You are your sexuality.

Experiencing sexual difficulties — like finding it hard to orgasm or feeling like your sex drive has vanished — can be tough.

Not only because this can cause friction in relationships but because sexuality is such a fundamental part of who we are.

This can be hard to recognize. After all, if your sex life doesn’t feel problematic or you’re enjoying the sex you’re having, you’re probably not thinking about it most of the time. 

As soon as sex becomes difficult, though, it starts to take up more mental energy and affects your everyday emotions.

And this effect goes both ways: the more shame, sadness, or frustration you experience about a sexual difficulty such as difficulty having an orgasm or low sex drive, the harder they become to resolve. 


And the harder they become to resolve, the more they feed into your everyday emotions and affect your general self-esteem and happiness. 

A sexual experience doesn’t exist in a vacuum — it encompasses all of you and all of your emotions.

This is partly why sex with the same person is sometimes mind-blowing and other times mind-numbingly boring

It’s not just the kinds of sex you have or the positions you try that determine if you’re satisfied or not.


It’s your thoughts, emotional state, and connection with your partner that ties into the experience as a whole. And this is true whether you experience sexual difficulties or not.

What does this mean if you have sexual difficulties?

Due to the link between your emotions and your sexual self — solving sexual problems isn’t necessarily a case of spicing things up or trying new positions. It might be, but it might also be about working with yourself on a deeper level. 

Tend to your emotions by understanding what you’re feeling, their role in your sexuality, and the back and forth effects of your sexuality and your emotions on one another.


By taking a holistic view of your sexuality and understanding that emotions control sex, and sex also controls your emotions — you’ll be one step closer to the sex life you want and deserve. 

RELATED: How To Create Emotional Intimacy & Have Better Sex With Your Partner

Leigh Norén is a sex therapist and writer with a Master of Science in Sexology. She’s been featured in Women's Health, Thrive Global, The Good Men Project, Elephant Journal, Glamour, and more. For more advice on sex and emotions, visit her website. To learn more about the connection between your emotions and sex, download her free resource: A Manual for Emotions