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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!

We’ve Only Just Begun…

Name: Donna
Gender: Female
Age: 18
Location: Salt Lake City.
I’m turning to you for help, because I don’t have anyone else to ask. My boyfriend, who is 19, and I are very much in love. We plan to marry next year. But we both want to start having sex now. We are both virgins and we think we need help overcoming the natural obstacles, if you know what I mean.

Gee, I’m not sure I know what you mean by natural obstacles. Are you talking about physical things? Emotional things? Maybe you just need a little tutorial on how to get started. I’ll try to at least touch upon all these things, but first I want to thank you for entrusting me with your concerns. I’m sorry to hear that you don’t have others in your community to approach. I guess that says a lot about the family values and community standards where you live.

teen_sexuality.jpgI have lots to say about beginning a sexual life with another person. Curiously enough the information I am about to share is applicable to both women and men and it applies to any and all sexual orientations. That’s the beautiful part of human sexuality. There is so much common ground. In fact, there is way more that we have in common than what separates us.

Ok, so here goes. Be yourselves. Let your natural feeling of affection for one another lead you. Always use a condom (This applies to penis/vagina and/or anal sex.) Be gentle; be curious; seek your partner’s pleasure before your own; and most importantly, have a sense of humor about the whole damned thing.

Just about everyone who is sexually inexperienced will also lack sexual confidence. It can be nerve-wracking not being sure what to do to satisfy your partner. Sometimes this nervousness is contagious. Your anxiety can make your partner anxious. The surefire way to get around this is to not pretend you know what the fuck you’re doing, if ya don’t. The best way to find out what to do is to ask your partner what he/she likes and how she/he likes it. If they don’t know or can’t tell you, then you can find out together with some sex play. And I do mean play, not work.1sexual_response_cycle_male

This is where our natural sexual curiosity comes in. And we all have that to one degree or another. Sexual confidence comes from knowing. Curiosity will bring you knowledge.

There will be no room for curiosity if the only thing on your mind is the old in an out. That’s why I suggest you put off full-on fucking till you get the lay of the land, so to speak. Besides, there are lots and lots of ways to pleasure yourself and your partner that doesn’t involve intercourse.

Like I said, sexual confidence comes with understanding the mysteries of our sexual response cycle. Each one of us is different and the differences are most pronounced between the sexes. If you haven’t discovered at least the fundamentals of your own response cycle through masturbation; then you’re really not really ready to gift yourself to another person just yet.

female sexual response cycleYa see, the more you know about your body; how it works; where your pleasure centers are; the kind of stimulation you need and want to come to full arousal; the more information you’ll have to pass on to your partner. Even if your partner is more experienced than you, he/she will still need to get to know the intricacies of your individual response cycle.

Sexual confidence stems from being able to please your partner. When you know what you are doing you project an air of self-assurance. This is not the same thing as cockiness, mind you, although that might be a very fun attribute to have too.

The best lovers look to pleasure their partners before they expect to be pleasured. Delaying your own pleasure, particularly if you’re a guy, so that you can provide multiple orgasms to your partner will reap great pleasurable rewards for you when it’s your turn. Besides, giving pleasure is often as pleasurable as being pleasured.

Sexual confidence translates into sexual assertiveness. Each partner should take equal responsibility for initiating sex. Trust me, this is not merely a man’s role. And sexual assertiveness translates into sexual creativity. If you’re timid about trying new things, you’re gonna short-circuit a whole lot of pleasure.black teens

Learn to ask for what you want and how you want it. Communication is key to a healthy and vibrant sex life. Never underestimate the your partner’s ability to develop and grow sexually. Check in with your partner on a regular basis. Don’t assume you know what turns him/her on today, just because it turned her/his crank the other day.

Feelings of sexual inadequacy, discomfort with your body, anxiety about your skills will destroy your sex life. If you are plagued with any of these things get help with them before your bring them to a sexual partnership.

sexual confidenceSexual confidence comes down to knowing yourself and being able to communicate your likes and wants to your partner. If you’re simply gonna be passive about your pleasure, you’ll wind up getting only what is dished out to you. And for many women, that is woefully insufficient. Don’t expect your partner to know any more about pleasuring you than you do, even if she/he has had more partners then you.

Allow yourselves the time or space you need to feed your intimacy needs. If you expect to discover sexuality with your partner in the backseat of a car, you’re gonna cum up short. Passion and spontaneity is great, but what I’m talking about is different from that. Think of it as learning to walk before you run.

Being a terrific lover is dependent on know-how. Skill comes through practice. So practice, practice, practice! Keep it fun. When it stops being play and starts being work, put it aside for another day.

Good luck

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Ready Or Not

Name: Allie
Gender: Female
Age: 18
I feel kinda silly asking a complete stranger this, but here goes. I’m a pretty normal 18year old female. I’m in my freshman year at a college in upstate New York. I’ve had a few boyfriends over the years, nothing really serious though. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of this one guy; he’s 20, a junior at my school. I really like him and we’re discussing taking our friendship to the next level. He’s not pressuring me for sex or anything, even though he’s more experienced than I am. In fact he wants me decide when the time is right. My question is how will I know when I’m ready for sex. Obviously, Jason will be my first. Thanks.

Thanks for entrusting me, a complete stranger, with this very intimate concern. I have a question for you, Allie, and I hope it doesn’t sound flippant. When do you know it’s time to eat, or sleep? I know lots of us eat even when we’re not hungry and don’t sleep even when we’re tired, but that aside, I suggest that the same body signals that alert you to hunger and exhaustion will let you know when it’s time for sex. You’ll want to have sex when you feel the desire to be sexual. I’m not trying to be evasive; I’m trying to get you to listen to your body, because that’s how you’ll know. To be perfectly frank, that’s how all of us know it’s time for sex. We get a hankerin’ for some pleasure and we pursue that until, hopefully, we’re satisfied.

teen sex anxietyYou’ll notice that I’m not specifically referencing fucking when I say you’ll know when it’s time for sex. Sex, at lest in my book, involves a whole lot more than the old in and out, don’t cha know. Take a look at the sexual enrichment tutorial I posted just last week. It’s titled: Beginning Sex Play — Tips and Techniques. http://www.drdicksexadvice.com/2014/02/26/sex-play-tips-and-techniques/

If I were to advise you further I’d want to know how much sex you’ve already had with Jason. Has there been any sex play at all? Probably some, huh? Otherwise how would you know you like him well enough to consider taking the play to the next level?

Penis/vagina intercourse, or as I like to call it “fucking” can bring more intimacy and more pleasure than some other sex play, but it’s not the be all and end all either. Fucking also carries a lot it more responsibility, particularly for fertile young puppies like you and Jason.intimacy021

You sound like an intelligent lass, at least you can write in complete sentences. Is it safe to assume that you are well versed in the complexities of the human reproductive system? I hope so. Not everyone is, of course, even some otherwise smart young people. If you’re not clear on the whole concept, there’s no time like the present to do a little boning up…so to speak. Being responsible with your sex is as important as being sexual. And being informed about health risks and contraception is the beginning of taking responsibility for your sexual activity.

Every sexually active young woman is subject to becoming pregnant every time she accepts a cock in her cooch. I’m not a woman, nor do I play one on the internets, but I’ve been around more than my share of the fairer sex, and I am certain that every woman who fucks for the first time will wonder if she is pregnant the next morning. I suppose the same is true for any sexually active woman of childbearing age, even those who are very knowledgeable about birth control and are prepared for sex when it presents itself. Seems to me that that kind of apprehension or concern could easily put a dent in pleasure.

makin' babiesRemember what I said a little earlier; that you’ll want to have sex when you feel the desire to be sexual? Well, if you take the time to prepare now, you won’t need to interrupt the sexually charged moment when your body tells you I want some of that hot monkey love. You should choose the birth control method that suits you best. You should have condoms and lube available. Don’t expect your beau to have his wits about him when his dick is hard. While Jason does sound like a swell guy, conscientious too, you’re the one who will get pregnant if ya’ll screw up. And I’ll bet ol’ Jason will be impressed with your forethought too. There’s nothing like gettin’ it on with a chick who knows the score, even if it is her first time.

Remember, even if you’re on the pill or have a diaphragm, condoms are a must. One of every ten sexually active teens carries one or more STDs or as we call them nowadays, SDI (sexually transmitted infections). You can consider dropping the condoms when you’re in an exclusive relationship.

Finally, you may be ready for sexual release — i.e. an orgasm, and I hope you’re already enjoying an abundance of those little buggers through jilling off — but that does not mean you are ready for, need, or even want full-on fucking. But when you do and you get that hankerin’, feed it. It will be as natural as falling off a log.

Good luck

Bum Rap

Name: Skye
Gender: Female
Age:
Location:
The reason I am writing is because my boyfriend and I have been together for about a year, and we’ve been having some problems with sex. The problem is that I have difficulty getting to a climax. The problem with this is that my boyfriend feels like he has not accomplished anything if he can’t get me off (which generally nobody is able to do). The only way that I am able to climax is during anal sex and my boyfriend does not want that all the time and has become skittish about doing it at all because of some difficulties with this earlier in the relationship (I am not very experienced).
This issue is starting to drive a wedge between us, and neither of us wants to break up over this. So we are asking for some advice as to what we can do, or what we can try. One thought that I have had is that maybe I am nervous when I’m with other people because while I have difficulty climaxing when I’m with somebody, I have no difficulty at all when I’m alone.
Please give us any advice you can, or point us to somebody who might be able to help us.
~Skye

Ok, let’s take this apart piece by piece, shall we? You’re unable to cum through partnered sex, despite the willingness of your BF to try and please you as much as humanly possible, right? But you are orgasmic; I mean you can cum when you are by yourself, right? This suggests to me that you are suffering from performance anxiety. a150455_xlf

While performance anxiety is mostly talked about in terms of men and their erection problems, they don’t have a monopoly on the annoying issue. It’s an arousal phase concern and we all have an arousal phase regardless of our gender.

I’d be willing to guess that since you say you are not very experienced with sex, you may be creating a level of anxiety that short-circuits your pleasure. Sad to say, this often plagues younger women the most. Young women tend to have less self-esteem. And if they are new to sex, they may not know what they are doing, which can be not only frustrating, but also distracting.

So let me ask you a few questions. First and foremost, what’s going on in your mind when you are having sex with a partner? Are you focused on the pleasure you are giving and receiving? Or are you focused, like so many people on something other than that?

a96261_xlfIf your mind is busy with how you look, or how you smell, or if you are wondering if that birthmark of yours is too obvious. Or if you’re worried about how accomplished you are at performing a particular sex act; then you may have performance anxiety. If you anxious about what your partner thinks of you, if he’s turned on by you, or loves you, or is just bangin’ away at you like a side of beef; then you may have performance anxiety. If you’re afraid to let go and have a screamin’ meme of an orgasm, because it might not look lady-like, or you’re not sure you can trust the person who’s bumpin’ you enough to just relax and enjoy the ride; then you may have performance anxiety.

It also appears from what you say that your BF could also be developing a complex since he’s unable to pleasure you to climax. So let’s see if we can nip this in the bud before it gets to be a full-blown dysfunction.

Many women report that their partnered sex is not as satisfying as their solo sex, because they’re not able to stimulate themselves in the same fashion in partnered sex as they do when they’re jillin’ off. If you are self-conscious about showing your partner the particulars of gettin yourself off, or too intimidated to incorporate a vibrator in your love making, you might not be getting the kind of stimulation you need when you need it. Thus you might be aroused, but not to the point of lettin’ one loose…if ya catch my drift.a6402_xlf

I am also very curious about another thing you mention. You say; “The only way that I am able to climax is during anal sex and my boyfriend does not want that all the time and has become skittish about doing it at all because of some difficulties with this earlier in the relationship.” That’s downright amazing. Butt fuckin’ get you off, but not traditional, cock in cooch, sex? Holy cow! How did you come to be so well acquainted with anal sex when you claim you are not very experienced with sex in general? I’d be very interested in hearing more about that, don’t cha know.

Finally, may I suggest that you and the BF take advantage of Dr Dick’s How To Video Library. It is chock full of swell videos that you guys can watch together. This might be the very thing ya’ll need to break open a conversation about the kind of sex you are having as opposed the kind of sex you both desire.

a168705_xlfA lot of the videos in my library will teach you how to ask for what you need and want. How to shake things up and add some spice to your sex play. You’ll learn new ways of pleasuring one another. And, most importantly, how to relax and enjoy yourselves. Once you guys learn how to effectively communicate with one another about sex, you will have gone a great distance in clearing the air of unnecessary sexual anticipation. You’ll both be able to relax into the event itself and enjoy yourselves more. Here is just a tiny sampling of titles to look for:

Women’s Sexual Satisfaction
Personal Touch: Toying With Pleasure
Nina Hartley’s Guide To Couples Sexploration
Expert Guide To Female Orgasms
Guide To Bondage For Couples

In my How To Video Library you’ll be able to search by stars, like Nina Hartley or Tristan Taormino. You can search by Directors, like Michael Perry or Jamye Waxman. Or you can search by topic, like cunnilingus, toys or anal pleasure. And the best part is that this wealth of information is right there at your fingertips.

Good luck

What’s that you say?

Name: Scott
Gender: Male
Age: 20
Location: Kansas
I am a 20-year-old virgin who has never even had phone or cybersex. The reason for this is that when I am complimented in a sexual or sensual manner, for example “your voice is sexy” or “your intelligence is a major turn on” or even something as simple as “you’re cute or adorable or whatever” I get aroused but I also have a very negative reaction. I have a cold, sinking feeling in my stomach. I become slightly dizzy and even occasionally nauseous. I’ve been having these reactions since the 7th grade, which was the first time I was propositioned. When I find the woman of my dreams I want to be able to satisfy her every want and need, but I won’t be able to if I continue to have these reactions. Can you help me get rid of this or at least give me an idea of where it comes from or what is causing it?

Sounds to me, pup, like you got yourself a bad case of sexphobia; an irrational fear of sex. This is classic: “I am aroused but I also have a very negative reaction. I have a cold, sinking feeling in my stomach. I become slightly dizzy and even occasionally nauseous.” You should also know that phobias aren’t particularly uncommon.

sex-phobia-1There’s probably a good reason why you’re experiencing this phobia. If you and I were working together I’d want to take a look at the incident you report happened to you in the 7th grade. You said you were propositioned. What does that mean exactly? You were 12 and someone came on to you? A peer? Someone older? Was it someone inappropriate; a family member, a clergy person, a teacher? Why did you have such a negative response?

That being said, getting over a phobia, of whatever kind — fear of flying, snakes, spiders, public speaking, or sex — can be accomplished without dredging up the past. Here’s how you might begin:

  • Identify the specifics of your fear as they play themselves out in your life now. What precisely frightens you about sex and/or intimacy?
  • Create a plan to take the edge off your fear in small incremental steps. For example, start out with holding hands, move to embracing, then kissing. What behaviors push the panic button for you?
  • Address each and every thing that hampers your progress. For example, why does kissing push your buttons while holding hands and/or cuddling don’t?
  • Be firm in your resolve to push past your discomfort and stretch your limits. Sinking to the lowest common denominator will not do.
  • Address the emotional response you have to each aspect of your phobia before moving on to the next one. Build on your successes.

This is kinda hard to do on one’s own, but it’s not impossible. There are loads of books and programs on the market that can help an individual move through a phobia. You might want to do an online search, look for something like: overcoming a phobia.

Some people have success with visualization techniques, for others hypnotherapy works. Basically, it’s simply a matter of desensitization — defusing the feared thing, and doing it incrementally.

Good luck

Name: Afeisha
Gender: Female
Age: 21
Location: Pennsylvania
I usually have orgasms when I masturbate, but when I’m having sex with my partner it’s so hard to arrive at an orgasm, even when the sex is great?

Women suffer from performance anxiety too, ya know.

While performance anxiety is mostly talked about in terms of men and their erection problems, guys don’t have a monopoly on this annoying issue.No-Genitals

I’d be willing to guess that you, my dear, have got some performance anxiety goin’ on yourself, possibly even big time. Sad to say, this difficulty often plagues younger women the most. Young women tend to have less self-esteem. And if they are new to sex, they may feel like they don’t know what they are doing, which can be both disturbing and distracting. On the other hand, if a young woman is not a sexual novice and she appears too knowledgeable about sex, she runs the risk of being labeled a slut. So basically, young women can’t win for losing. It’s friggin’ regrettable, but there ya have it.

So let’s see if we can get to the bottom of this, as it were. Let me ask you a few questions. First and foremost, where is your mind when you are having sex with a partner? Is it on the pleasure you are giving and receiving? Or is it, like so many people, on something other than the pleasurable sensations?

  • If your mind is busy with how you look, or how you smell, or if you are wondering if that birthmark is too obvious. Or if you’re worried about how accomplished you are at performing a particular sex act, or if you’re concerned about your partner feelings for you. Then you may have performance anxiety.
  • If you’re anxious about what your partner is thinking of you; or if he/she is turned on by you; or loves you; or is just bangin’ away at you like a slab of beef. Then you may have performance anxiety.
  • If you’re afraid to let go and have a screamin’ meme of an orgasm, because it might not look lady-like; or you’re not sure you can trust the person who’s bumpin’ you enough to just relax and enjoy the ride. Then you may have performance anxiety.

This being said, performance anxiety is only one explanation for the problem you experience in partnered sex. Many women report that their partnered sex is not as satisfying as their solo sex, because they’re not able to stimulate themselves in the same fashion in partnered sex as you do when they’re jillin’ off on their own. If you are self-conscious about showing your partner the particulars of gettin yourself off, or too intimidated to incorporate a vibrator in your love making, you might not be getting the kind of stimulation you need when you need it. Thus you might be aroused, but not to the point of lettin’ one loose…if ya catch my drift.

Finally, one of the easiest solutions to this problem is to simply have a frank discussion with your partner(s) about what gets you off before the fuck-fest begins. That will clear the air of unnecessary anticipation and you both will be able to relax more into the event itself, rather than being distracted by the externals.

Good luck

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