Category Archives: Sexual Frustration

A Spring Equinox Q&A Show — Podcast #325 — 03/19/12


Hey sex fans,

Hey everybody, Happy Vernal Equinox! Here we are on the cusp of spring, at lease here in the northern hemisphere, but the Emerald City is still locked in winter’s chilly grip. Hey, who’s in charge of this weather pattern anyway?

Despite the cold temperatures and blowing rain I have a bunch of very interesting questions from the sexually worrisome, which will dazzle and warm us till dryer, sunnier weather arrives.

  • Robert claims his GF doesn’t like sex. I think that’s because she’s never had good sex.
  • Ivy was molested at age 12. Now she finds it hard to enjoy sex with her BF.
  • Liam wants to last longer.
  • Dave reports that his fantasies include his father.

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Libido Disparity, A Common Problem

Name: Chris
Gender: male
Age: 29
Location:
I’m 29 and I’ve been married for the last 3 years. I was seeing my wife for 5 years prior to being married so I guess it’s been a total of 8 years that we’ve been together. When we first got together everything was great the sex was outstanding ya know 69 all types of positions tons of oral, tons of foreplay and she had an orgasm every time. It seems that just in the last couple of years everything has dwindled away to the point where it’s her on top for a little bit, me on top for a little bit till I finish then we go back to the living room and hang out. Whenever I bring up the subject she gets very uncomfortable and won’t talk about it. And it’s really starting to freak me out in every aspect of our relationship. I love the girl, so I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m wondering if there’s any hope to get things back to the way they used to be that fresh hotness and spontaneity. How can I bring the heat back?

Like I always say, If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this same complaint from a frustrated and desperate man or woman trapped in an undersexed marriage, I’d have enough money to lay down my keyboard, give up my status as the most fabulous and revered sexpert in the universe and retire to Maui.

Despite the frequency of the grievance, it still breaks my heart to hear the despair. I mean it’s one thing to have the sexual connection between partners drift away by mutual consent. It’s another thing all together to have one partner dissolve the sexual connection unilaterally while leaving the other partner bewildered and disoriented.

And what gives with a partner who refuses to talk about why the sex has taken a nosedive? That is so wrong. I can understand not knowing exactly what to say about things goin’ south, or even how to say what may be on your mind, but to clam up all together, that’s just unfair. Suppose the problem had to do with finances instead of sex. What if one of you decided to start splurging on major purchases without consulting the other? There’d be hell to pay then, huh? There’d be no duckin’ out of the responsibility by clamin’ up in this instance, I’ll bet. But when it comes to sex, somehow the same rules for accountability don’t always apply. Why is that?

Sexuality is both a personal expression and a means of bonding with another. Thus sexual wellbeing in a relationship is way more than just the old in and out. It means taking responsibility for one’s eroticism as an integral part of relationship. Sex is a way of expressing one’s self as well as our love for the other. The confusion, unhappiness and anxiety that results from the breakdown of this fundamental tenet will, as you suggest Chris, spill over into and contaminate other areas of the relationship. But it doesn’t need to happen.

When I encounter this predicament in my counseling practice, I always build in some individual time with each partner even though the couple is there for “couples counseling.” I often get a much better sense of what’s causing the breakdown in these private sessions than I do when the couple and I work together as a threesome. Sometimes it’s easier for the individual to talk to me privately than to be open, honest and forthcoming about his/her feelings with his/her partner sitting right there.

My experience tells me that more often than not, a refusal to discuss sexual concerns has more to do with not knowing how to express oneself without hurting the feelings of the other. Sometimes an individual simply doesn’t know herself why things are different than they once were. Sometimes there are lifestyle issues at play — family concerns, work concerns, lack of sleep, drugs and alcohol consumption, etc. Sometimes there are medical and psychological issues that impact on a person’s libido — weight gain, birth control, other pharmaceutical drugs, diabetes and depression to mention a few.

There’s also something we in the business call: “desire discrepancy disorder,” which is just a fancy-schmancy way of saying one partner has a stronger libido then the other. But often the simplest and most ordinary explanation is that the partnered sex has become stale, rote and boring.

Whatever the cause of the imbalance, it needs to be addressed as a couple. Once the couple has identified the problem the next step is learning how to talk about it in an effective yet non-threatening way. This can be tricky, to say the least. But it is still so much easier than trying to avoid the issue all together.

Ok, so your wife is reluctant to discuss the matter with you, Chris. That just means you’re gonna have to be proactive in bringing this issue to a head. And I’m not suggesting that you browbeat your wife about her unwillingness to talk about the issue. It’s gonna be all about you leading by example. Here’s what I suggest. Set up a time for you and your wife to have a sit-down. This needs to be scheduled in advance so that both of you know it’s coming. There ought be no surprises. This conference should not immediately follow sex, especially disappointing sex. Set aside at least 30 minutes when you guys are fresh and relaxed and then start preparing what you want to say. Take notes if necessary.

When the time comes for the sit down, I encourage you to use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. Begin by laying out how you feel and owing your feelings. “I feel confused. I feel frustrated. I feel that our relationship is in jeopardy.” Stay away from statements like “you make me feel…blah, blah, blah. These kinds of pronouncements will only muddy the waters. Then I suggest that you invite your wife to do the same. If she can’t, or won’t, move on to what steps you will take to get to the bottom of this. Something like, “I don’t want to continue the status quo. I’ve decided that I am going to seek some professional help for this. Maybe there’s something I’m missing. I can’t get to the bottom of this on my own, so maybe a sex therapist will help me understand what’s going on.” Again, invite her to join you in this effort. If she refuses or stalls out, move on to closing the discussion. You might say something like, “thank you for hearing me out on this. I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but I think our relationship is worth the effort to preserve it. And I’m actually gonna do something to make sure that we stay together. My invitation to you to join me in this effort will remain open.” End of discussion!

Of course, if you take this route, you will have to follow through on your commitment. If you don’t you will sabotage the whole damn thing, which will only make matters considerably worse. I encourage you to find a sex-positive therapist to work with. A good resource for this is The American College of Sexologists. Visit the directory page on their website. You will find listings for certified sexologists and sex therapists all over the world. If there is no one near you, contact the person closest to you and ask for a referral. Often my fellow ACS therapists and sexologists are very well connected to the broader sex-positive communities in their area.

You may also wish to consult me, even if you’re not here in Seattle. Check out the Therapy Available link in the header of my site for all the information you’ll need to make an enlightened decision about working with me.

Whatever you do, don’t settle for the path of least resistance. Your leadership might be just the thing your wife is looking for to muster her own strength to face the facts. Either way, the problem you are facing will not go away simply by ignoring it. Disappointments will become resentments and resentments will inevitably lead to acting-out and that will surely fuck things up royally.

Good luck

A potpourri of poignant problems

Name: Catherine Joanne
Gender: Female
Age: 42
Location: Canada, Alberta
I am in a very loving, understanding, compassionate relationship, which I have been waiting for for some time now. The only thing is he stimulates my emotional side in every way, but in the bedroom he is not as sexual as previous partners I have encountered. I do not know if this is because all my previous relationships have always been about the “sex” and fizzled out, shortly there after, or this is how a “real love thing truly is?” If so, how can I mentally get over this one…he’s just not inventive, or has a lack of sexual knowledge. I don’t want to end this loving relationship over the bed issue. Please help me out on this one, so I do not sabotage this relationship. Sincerely, Catherine

Like my momma always used to say, if it has four wheels or a dick, you know you’re gonna have trouble with it. Listen darlin’, if this guy satisfies as much as you say, hold on to him. He’s a keeper.

You can always teach the old dog some new tricks. Of course, you’re gonna have to take the lead in his sex ed. Let’s just hope he’s not threatened by a woman who is more sexually experienced, adventurous and progressive than he is.

That being said, I think you ought to make your peace with the fact that he’ll probably never become a wild fuck. But then again, you probably don’t want that, because those wild fucks don’t make for loving, understanding and compassionate partners…as you already know.

Just remember: It’s as hard to domesticate a wild fuck, as it is to make a domestic fuck — wild!

Good luck

Name: Jamie
Gender: Female
Age: 28
Location: Georgia
Lately when me and my boyfriend have sex, he’s been pulling out because he says his dick burns. WHY IS HE HAVING THAT PROBLEM?

What you got goin’ on in your pussy, girl? Nothing about a healthy cunt is gonna irritate a guy’s dong. SEE YOUR DOCTOR RIGHT AWAY!

Hey wait a minute! Maybe he’s the one with the problem. Maybe he has some kind of a skin irritation or rash or something. And his willie is gettin irritated inside you. HE OUGHTA SEE HIS DOCTOR RIGHT AWAY!

Say, have you seen his dick up close and in good light lately…ever? I am painfully aware that lots of couples never see one another fully naked even when their doin’ the nasty. This is not a good practice. You should not only know all about your own pussy and how to keep it in perfect working order, but you should have some working knowledge of how a healthy cock looks and operates. If you’re not clear on this you have some homework to do.

And what the fuck are you two doin screwin’ around without using a condom? Are you on the pill? You’d better be. Cuz if you ain’t ya’ll are gonna have a whole lot more to worry about than cock burns, if ya catch my drift.

Good luck

Name: Chris P.
Gender: Male
Age: 21
Location: Montgomery AL
Can it be unhealthy to deliberately avoid male ejaculation for long periods of time? Months, Years? Is it practiced maybe by religious? Can it be done?

Yes, it can be done. And no, it’s not necessarily an unhealthy practice! Some people practice total sexual abstinence for their entire adult life. Some of these people do so for religious reasons, others simply because they aren’t particularly interested in sex. Either way, there’s no real evidence that this practice is injurious to one’s health. What I can say for sure is that if one chooses or embraces sexual abstinence as a means to a higher goal, it is virtuous. If abstinence is mandated or practiced out of fear or repression, there is no virtue.

That being said, I do want to remind you of something I’ve written about a lot recently. It concerns the groundbreaking research on the connection between masturbation and prostate cancer. Australian researchers questioned over 1,000 men who had developed prostate cancer and 1,250 men who had not, about their sexual habits. They found those who ejaculated the most between the ages of 20 and 50 were least likely to develop prostate cancer.

The protective effect of frequent ejaculations was greatest when the men were in their 20’s. Get this; men who ejaculated more than five times a week were one third less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life. Kind of amazing, huh?

I think you should also know that even if you don’t purposely ejaculate, like through jerkin off or partnered sex, your body still needs to rid itself of old stale semen in another way. Think of it like this, when your bladder gets full you take a wiz. When your prostate and seminal vesicles get full you take a jizz. It’s as simple and natural as all that. If you don’t relieve yourself of your joy juice on your own, your body will rid itself of your old spooge in a wet dream, or it will flush it out of your system in your urine. It’s like if you didn’t relieve yourself when your bladder got full, you’d piss anyhow, only it wouldn’t be able to properly direct it. Get it? Got it? Good!

Good luck

Sex Therapy—What Is It and Who Needs It? – Part 1

I’m often asked about my work as a sex therapist. I’m surprised at how few people have any sense of what a sexologist does. While I can’t speak for all my fellow therapists, I can tell you a bit about my own practice.

Most of the work I do is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): short-term, goal-directed and personally liberating (I don’t believe this kind of therapy should become a lifestyle). Basically, I suggest that people with sexual issues change the behaviors that contribute to their problems as a surefire way to solve them. I try to give my clients all the tools they need to successfully work things out on their own once the therapeutic intervention is over. This approach doesn’t fit everyone; however, 99.9 percent of the people I work with respond positively.

I encourage my clients to give themselves permission to investigate their sexuality. This in turn assists them in taking charge of making themselves feel better and/or perform better. And as soon as they do, they almost immediately have a greater sense of wellbeing. Like they say, nothing breeds success like success.

Once we identify an area of concern, my client and I create a plan of action for them to implement. I believe the more an individual is part of their own healing process, the more productive that process will be.

Sadly, I find that fewer and fewer people are willing to give their sexual issues the attention they deserve. Rather than investing the time and energy to get to the bottom of their issues, many opt instead for the quick fix—the “Give me a pill for that” mentality. They’re often unwilling to make the necessary lifestyle changes to actually solve their problems. For example, I encounter people who are eating themselves to death, or abusing alcohol or drugs. Of course they have the accompanying sexual response issues—erection problems for men and arousal concerns for women. They may desperately want to resolve these issues, but without committing to any change in behavior—i.e.: “I want my erection back, but I won’t stop drinking”—such interventions almost always ends in disappointment.

Sexual dysfunction of one sort or another is the issue I see most recurrently in my practice, although the reason why a client reaches out varies. Sometimes an individual’s tolerance level peaks, and they finally decide to do something about an issue that may have been smoldering for years. Sometimes it’s a partner who brings in their proverbially “broken” partner, telling me to “fix him/her.”

Couples often seek sex therapy together, as sexual problems tend to be more obvious within relationships. However, by the time the couple comes for therapy, the issues have most likely been plaguing them for some time. The relationship often comes close to ending before the couple agrees to address the problem. For example: Say a guy brings his wife in because she’s “frigid,” whatever that may entail. They’ve been married for X-number of years, and he’s finally had it. She, on the other hand, doesn’t want to be in therapy, because she doesn’t really think there’s anything wrong with her. She just doesn’t want to have sex anymore, and she doesn’t want to discuss it. Period.

This is a difficult way to start therapy. Resentments are high and frustrations rage. If the couple does continue, we usually discover that there’s also something desperately wrong with the husband. Inevitably, we ascertain that he’s an ineffectual lover—and his inability to pleasure his wife is the root of her “problem.” It’s often painfully clear that he knows little (if anything) about his wife’s sexual needs or desires. Meanwhile, the wife has never had permission to know her body, so she’s unable to help or direct him. As you can imagine in a case like this, there’s a load of remedial sex education that must come before anything else is resolved.

Couples also seek therapy when one spouse has cheated on the other. The “cheat-ee” declares, in no uncertain terms, that this therapy is the last-ditch effort before “the end of the road.” Often in such cases, it’s too late for a successful intervention, because each partner is so angry and shamed that the chance of turning the situation around is slim. Sometimes the best we can do is end the relationship with as little acrimony as possible.

In difficult couple counseling situations like this, my first effort is to get the couple to disarm. There will be no sex therapy—and God knows there is a need for sex therapy—until there is some semblance of peace between partners. If we don’t establish at least a small bank of goodwill, our efforts are doomed.

We’ll pick this up next week at this time.

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The Heartbreak of Male Performance Anxiety

I get a dozen or so messages a month on this topic. I’ve written about it in numerous postings and spoken about it in several podcasts, but still the email comes.

One of the real bugaboos for anyone, regardless of gender, is living up to our own expectations of sexual performance. So many things can get in the way, literally and figuratively, of fully enjoying ourselves and/or pleasuring our partners.

The arousal stage of our sexual response cycle is particularly vulnerable to a disruption. And when there’s trouble there, there’s no hiding it. A limp dick or a dry pussy can put the kibosh on all festivities that we may have hoped would follow.

However, performance anxiety can strike any of us, regardless of age, and at just about any point in our sexual response cycle. This is a particularly galling when it seems to come out of the blue. And regaining our composure can be more far more difficult than we imagine.

Today we will be focusing on male performance anxiety.  I’ll address female performance anxiety at a later date.

Here’s Bob, he’s 26:
Doc, this has never happened before. But I couldn’t get it up tonight, and this chick was H.O.T. Now I’m not gay at all, but I haven’t had sex in about 3 years because I was locked up…so I masturbated pretty regularly, about 3 or 4 times a week. But I can’t figure out why I was soft… the only thing I can think of is I ate clams tonight and I’ve never had them before. Could it be that or should I get checked out?

It weren’t the clams, darlin’! And I don’t think you need to get “checked out” either…at least not right away. If you could back away from the situation a bit and stop freaking out, I think you’d discover the source of your problem all on your own.

Here’s the thing—while you were out of commission there in the slammer, you relied, as you say, on jerking off. Okay, cool. We all do what we gotta do. Now the first time you try to score after your release…you go soft. This tells me you have a mild case of performance anxiety. We all get that from time to time.

There’s probably nothing wrong with you or your johnson. You just got the jitters first time you tried to get you some after being away, that’s all.

The anticipation of boning this H.O.T. chick—fueled by some predictable self-consciousness; what with just getting out of the big house and all—pulled the plug on your wood. No surprise there, right?

What I don’t want to see happen is for you to replay the incident over and over in your mind’s eye til that’s all you can think about. If you do, this proverbial molehill will become a mountain. You’ll then bring all this anxiety to your next encounter, setting yourself up for even more disappointment. You can see how this shit can snowball? If you interpret every less than satisfying encounter as a failure, your fears will become self-fulfilling. You’ll begin to avoid partnered sex and you’ll develop a full-blown sexual dysfunction. And your self-esteem will take a nosedive, too.

If you’re preoccupied with your performance, it’s less likely that you’ll be fully present during sex with a partner. This pretty much fucks up your sexual responsiveness and any hope for spontaneity. Why not just relax into the whole sex thing and not try to prove your manhood with your pecker?

Then there’s Steve with a slightly different take on this meddlesome problem:

My partner and I have been together for just over 3 years now in a monogamous relationship. I am the top and he the bottom. Our problem is not premature ejaculation on his part, but his inability to have an orgasm at all. No matter what I try and even if he masturbates, sometimes it is impossible to get him to cum. Is this a medical issue? Have you ever heard of this?

Delayed ejaculation is the difficulty one has ejaculating even with a firm erection and sufficient sexual arousal and stimulation. This problem is not uncommon. For most men, delayed ejaculation occurs during partnered sex more frequently than while masturbating. In fact, 85% of men with delayed ejaculation can usually cum by jacking off. However, in partnered sex, the guy may be unable to ejaculate at all, or only after prolonged partnered stimulation. This problem can be very frustrating and cause distress for both partners involved, as you already know.

What causes delayed ejaculation? Well, it could be a number of things. It could be something as simple as performance anxiety, or inadequate stimulation, or there could be neurological damage.

I don’t want to be too reductionist here, but most of us experts believe that the majority of instances of delayed ejaculation aren’t physical in nature, but rather are the product of psychological concerns. Simply put, there’s a difference between the psychosexual response we have when we are alone and the one we experience with a partner. There’s probably nothing wrong with your partner’s unit. It’s all in his head…or his mind, to be more exact. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s got a real bad case of performance anxiety.

When I see this sort of thing in my private practice, I always begin the therapeutic intervention by calling a moratorium on fucking of any kind. This immediately takes the pressure off the couple. From there we begin to rebuild the partnered psychosexual response one step at a time. We begin with sensate focus training (Sensate Focus is a series of specific exercises for couples that encourage each partner to take turns paying increased attention to their own sensations. More about these helpful exercises in the weeks to come.), stress reduction and relaxation exercises. These applications are designed to reduce performance pressure and instead focus on pleasure. The idea is to get them to stay in the moment; absorb the pleasure present without worrying about what is “supposed” to happen.

Finally we address as frankly and openly as possible any fears or anxieties that they may have—as individuals or as a couple. I have the greatest confidence in this method; it succeeds over 90% of the time.

Ok, let’s recap shall we?

Overcoming sexual performance anxiety is dependent on five simple things.

  • First, a guy needs to be attuned to his sexual response cycle — arousal, plateau, orgasmic and resolution phases. He should know what kind of stimulation he needs at each phase to fully enjoy himself and satisfy his partner.
  • Second, the more worried a guy is about a performance issue, the more likely that problem will present itself. A bad experience in the past can often set the stage for its recurrence.
  • Third, don’t be afraid to talk this over with your partner. Withdrawing from your partner or shying away from sex altogether will only increase the likelihood that the problem will persist.
  • Forth, be proactive! Fearing the loss of your sexual prowess or feeling sorry for yourself is counterproductive. Confront the challenge head on. Employ sensate focus training stress reduction techniques and relaxation exercises to help you push past this temporarily impasse and regain your self-confidence.
  • Fifth, free yourself from the mindset that your dick is the center of the universe. Your manhood or your capacity to be a great lover does not reside in your genitals. Expand your sexual repertoire. Remember, pleasure centers abound in your body as well as your partner’s.

Good luck!

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