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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!

You want me to do WHAT?

First Name: Beth
Age: 52
Gender: Female
Location: New Jersey
Your question or comment: My husband and I have swung in the past and have had an open marriage for a short time about 5 or 6 years ago. We have, for the most part, been monogamous for the past few years. He now tells me that the only thing that will make him interested in having sex with me is if I find men to have sex with and send him pics of myself in the act with other men. I have no desire to do this but am considering doing it if it will help my sex life with him. I have read about Candaulism (a sexual practice or fantasy in which a man exposes his female partner, or images of her, to other people for their voyeuristic pleasure) and am beginning to think he may be a latent homosexual or bisexual and trying to fulfill his desire to be with a man by living vicariously threw me. He says that the torment of knowing that I am with another man is exciting to him and I don’t understand how that can be a healthy thing for him. I am desperate for guidance in this area. Your thoughts??

Well then, Beth, things are gonna get very interesting in your life real soon, huh?

2477075029_d8e7e288c4Before I get to answering your query, let me ask you some questions. You say you and the hubby used to be swingers and even had an open marriage for a while some years ago. Why, after all that nontraditional relationship stuff, did ya’ll go back to sexual exclusivity? Did you both agree to go back to the straight and narrow, or did one of you decide for the both of you? This is an important point. If one of you decided for the both of you, the one tagging along with the decision may not have been totally on board from the get go. And when that happens, what looks like domestic tranquility is actually nothing of the sort.

It appears to me that your marriage has somewhat of a cyclical pattern to it. You guys have vanilla periods and kinky periods. Would that be an accurate representation of the dynamics? If so, let me ask a few more questions. Who or what determines the swing, you’ll pardon the pun, from vanilla to kink? Is it a boredom thing? And who determines the swing back to vanilla? And does that have anything to do with fear and jealousy? Do you guys discuss the transition before hand? Or is the migration from vanilla to kink and back again more of a follow-the-leader sort of thing? And who leads whom into kink? And does the same person lead out of kink back to vanilla? These questions are all very important and I would want to know the answers before I suggest a path forward.Candaulism

Now I know you are not here to answer my outstanding questions, so that means I need to punt. From what you tell me, I discern that the hubby is in need of a little spice. And maybe he is the one who traditionally leads the marriage out of vanilla into kink. You appear to be resisting this migration for whatever reason. Maybe that’s your traditional role in the marriage. I’m also guessing that you guys don’t talk things through before a momentous change is in the offing, but ya should. A lot of the heartache and misdirection could be avoided if you did.

I also think your husband is not veering into particularly dangerous or uncharted waters with his Candaulism. Seems to me you’ve been there already, at least in spirit, with your periods of swinging and open relationship. It also occurs to me that your hubby has a big fat cuckold fetish that he is trying to itch. And in terms of fetishes, this is a relatively harmless one, especially if everyone involved is on board for the fun and games. Check out my How To Video Library for some swell movies on that theme.

mr-honmaIs his cuckold fetish latent homosexuality? What a funny question to ask considering your relationship history. Isn’t it more likely that he might have a bisexual streak? And the fact that you are puzzled by all of this suggests, at least to me, that you guys don’t know each other very well. And that’s astonishing considering what you’ve been through together.

What I’m getting at though all of this is, if you want to restore some balance and harmony to your marriage, the answer is not simply hanging out at the vanilla end of relationship spectrum because it’s comfortable and safe. At least not until there is consensus on the part of both you and your husband. The big mistake many couples make is to assume that if one person is along for the ride, just to make peace, there is consensus. That’s not consensus; that’s conciliation.

Again, because you guys aren’t here to discuss this stuff with me, but I’d still like to help, let me turn you on to an exercises that will facilitate the open and honest discussion you need to have with your man and he with you. What follows comes from a workshop I developed called; The Gospel of Kink. I’ve also conveniently packaged this workshop into a workbook with the same title. You can find the book HERE!

GOK small cover

Both the workshop and book are designed to help people, like you and your husband, develop the skills they need to effectively communicate with one another and improve their problem solving skills. The workshop and book, as the title suggests, are specifically geared toward folks in kinky, BDSM, and alt-culture relationships, but even vanilla couples will find what I present very helpful.

Even the strongest relationships go through periods of distress and turmoil. Disagreements, misunderstandings, and personal foibles can cause contention and conflict. So let’s see if we can come up with some practical tools and techniques to 1) handle common alt relationship related issues, and 2) successfully navigate our relationship conflicts.

EXERCISE 2 — Tools and Techniques for Navigating Alt Relationship Conflicts

Begin by jotting down a half dozen or so key words or phrases that identify the issues and problems you’ve encountered in your alt relationships. And then see if you can come up with a list of a half dozen or so key words or phrases that suggest possible solutions to those issues and problems.

Once both of you have completed your lists you’ll need to set up a time for a formal discussion of those lists. With a little luck, this exercise will help you identify the stumbling blocks that both of you see and help you develop a strategy to overcome them.

Of course all of this will depend on how well you listen to and absorb the message coming from your partner. Need help with that too? Never fear, The Gospel of Kink has exercises for that as well.

Good luck

Can’t Give It Away

Name: Dave
Gender: male
Age: 40
Location: Wisconsin
I have a boyfriend that I love very much. We have been together for over 6 years and we care for one another very much. The problem is that we never have sex. The last time was probably two years ago and that time he just took care of me and that was it. I haven’t seen him climax in years. I asked him if there’s a problem with me and he says no. I know he still has a sex drive because I’ve caught him masturbating once. When I bring up the subject he says he knows we need to work on it but that’s as far as it goes. I know he’s not cheating, but I can’t say the same about myself. Should I feel guilty for seeking sex outside our relationship without his permission? In the past I’ve felt horrible about this, but my frustration is overriding my guilt. But it still bothers me because I am not being the moral person I was raised to be. I’ve asked him about opening our relationship, but he doesn’t like that idea either. What am I supposed to do?

Sad to say there’s not much a couple can do to either beef up a sex drive or cool one down, when one or the other partner has no will to do so. And I would say that if you guys have been living successfully like this for four years, there’s little chance of turning this around. I understand your frustration about the sex thing, but I also hear you say that everything else is pretty OK.

So let me ask, is the sex thing with your partner so important that you want to risk upsetting the whole apple cart?oh-oh

If, as you say, you are feeling guilty about going outside your relationship to find the sexual satisfaction you need and want, then it is high time for you to have a chat with your partner and pound out some new relationship perimeters. The tension you are experiencing between your sexual desires and your moral compass is a real good thing. It ought not be denied. But like I always say, these can be very difficult negotiations to hammer out. However, not to try to come to some kind of accommodation to insure the sexual health and wellbeing of both is, I believe, a form of sexual abuse.

You might consider the upfront approach:  “Honey, I can’t live without sex.  You and I haven’t been sexual together for ages.  I can no longer abide the status quo.  Here’s what I propose. You are my partner; I love you very much.  I will always bring you the gift of my sexuality first.  And I give you the right of first refusal.  If you’re not interested, I will honor that and not pester you for what I need and desire.  However, if that’s the case, I intend to look for what I need elsewhere. Living without partnered sex is no longer an option for me.”

The important thing here is, regardless how you approach the subject, there’s no need to sink to the lowest common denominator.

But, for the sake of argument, let’s just say that your hubby is still interested in sex, maybe even sex with you.  Perhaps you could be asking yourself; is the sex you have with your partner is just boring? And you’re misinterpreting his boredom as disinterest? You say he masturbates. What’s in his mind (or on the computer) when he does? Would you even know? Ever thought of asking? Maybe he’s just too self-conscious to come right out with it and ask for what he wants from you. Is there any way you could entice him back to bed with a little spice? Would he respond to some porn, or toys, or even a three-way?

Maybe it’s just as well there’s no sex in your relationship, you seem to be getting along very well otherwise. But only a frank and open discussion with your man is gonna shed the necessary light on this situation.

See Dave, you have lots of options. It’s time to be creative, like the fabulous homo you are.

Good Luck!

Modern Marvel

Hey sex fans!

It’s Product Review Friday!. This week we feature another product from the creative minds at Zini.  I sure hope you are following these reviews because we’ve been thrilled by what has come our way so far. You can find all our reviews by going to drdicksextoyreviews.com, use the search function in the sidebar and type in “Zini.”  Today we have a most remarkable toy for the men folk.

Here are Dr Dick Review Crew members, Glenn & Hank, to fill us in, so to speak, on their new product.

ZINI Bang! Bang! —— $149.99

Glenn & Hank
Hank: “Here’s how it happened. Dr Dick called us and said he had a new product for us to review. I thought, ok, cool. We hadn’t posted a review since January. I asked what kind of product was it. He said it was a mechanical masturbator. I let out an audible groan.”bang bang 01
Glenn: “When Hank told me about the new toy, I did more than grown. I said to Hank. ‘How many of these stupid things have The Crew reviewed? And how many of them could even begin to deliver on the promises made?’ Before Hank could answer, I said, ‘We’ve reviewed loads of them and they all sucked, and not in a good way!’”
Hank: “I didn’t know how I was gonna tell Glenn that I had already accepted Dr Dick’s offer and that I planned to swing by his place after work to pick up the ZINI Bang! Bang! ‘Really? That’s the name?’ I asked Dr Dick. Wait till Glenn gets a load of this, I said to myself despairingly.”
Glenn: “Once we had the package on the dining room table, I began to walk back my resistance to the whole idea. Even if it didn’t work it was hella cool looking. I like the packaging and if the marketing spiel and images on the packaging were only partially accurate, maybe I could really get into the Bang! Bang! (Stop, you’re killing me with that name!)”zini-dib-bang-bang
Hank: “I think the futuristic design is great too. You have to hand it to Zini, they’re comin’ up with some great stuff. The Bang! Bang! is capsule-shaped. It kinda looks like a kitchen appliance; think coffee grinder or citrus juicer. It is made of hard plastic and it stands on a suction cup stand. This is gonna come in handy in a minute, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”
Glenn: “Like Hank said, no one would ever be able to guess what the Bang! Bang! is just by looking at it. Now let’s see it go to work. First thing, ya gotta know is it’s rechargeable. Thank god, no freakin’ batteries to deal with. It takes a couple hours to fully charge and the control panel lights up during charge; changing color, red to blue, when fully charged. Next, you pop off the dome cap and under it you will find a squishy elastomer cushion with a hole in it. This is not unlike a Fleshlight or Fleshjack. Except this thing’s squishy cushion is nonporous and phthalate-free. This beats the shit out of the stuff Fleshlight uses, both in terms of health and cleanup. I’ll get back to clean up thing in a minute, so hold on to that thought.”zini-dib-bang-bang-1
Hank: “When I finally got my hands on the Bang! Bang! I stuck my finger in the hole and got the surprise of my life. Inside I could feel dozens of soft, tiny little fingers protruding from the sides of the cup underneath the squishy cushion on top. It feels like it’s made of that same elastomer material as the cushion top. And it’s easy enough to get a loser look at too. All ya gotta do is twist off the cushion top cap and look inside. I began to see where Zini was goin’ with this thing. You can further disassemble the fingered insert from the cup that holds it. ‘Alright then,’ I said. ‘This is the hot setup.’”
Glenn: “I almost didn’t want to turn the Bang! Bang! on for fear of being disappointed, but my curiosity got the best of me. We reassembled all the parts, which is real easy to do and turned it on. Neither one of us was willing to stick our dick in it quite yet, so we began by fingering it. I fuckin’ couldn’t get over the sensations. Get this, the Bang! Bang! has 50-motion modes! That is, the insert with the soft, tiny little fingers rotates with 10 different modes and there are 5 speeds. Once I was confident that sticking my pecker in the hole wasn’t gonna get it lopped off, I dropped my pants and pulled on my dick to get it hard. I tried to stick my willie in the hole in the squishy cushion, but it was no go. I needed to lube it up first. I used a water-based lube to start with, but after a few times I started using a silicone-base lube because that’s my favorite.”
Hank: “Once Glenn had his dick inside the Bang! Bang! he turned it on. The first words out of his mouth was ‘holy fuck!’ Glenn started to put the Bang! Bang! through its paces. There were so many woohs and ahhhs that I though he was gonna bust a nut in no time at all. Thing is, he started to pump his cock in and out of the Bang! Bang!, which is ill-advised and unnecessary. The depth of the fingered cup is no more than 4 inches, so, as Glenn found out ramming his dick into the thing would only bump his dick head against the back of the cup. And, as he said, ‘that doesn’t feel good.’”zini-dib-bang-bang-2
Glenn: “I forgot that the Bang! Bang! is a masturbator and not a stroker. But once I got the hang of it, I was in heaven. This is definitely the lazy man’s orgasm machine; you don’t have to do anything but insert your johnson and manipulate the control buttons. By the way, it has a great easy-off feature too. In what seemed record time I shot my wad, it was totally amazing. This thing isn’t particularly quiet, but it’s not coffee grinder loud either.”
Hank: “My turn with the Bang! Bang! wasn’t as great as Glenn’s, but that’s no fault with the toy itself. It is designed for small to average hung guys. I couldn’t get my dickhead into this thing even with a lot of lube. I’m just a little too girthy…ok, maybe a lot too girthy.”
Glenn: “I felt bad that Hank wasn’t able to feel what I felt because it was totally amazing. The bright side is, I now have the Bang! Bang! all to myself. Once I had free reign with the thing I discovered how versatile it is. Remember we mentioned the suction cup stand at the very beginning of our comments? Well, you can stick this to any smooth flat surface, adjust the angle as you please, and plug in your dick as you would a hole or mouth for hands-free pleasure. Just remember that the suction cup, strong as it is, will only work on a clean, smooth and flat surface. You DO NOT want this thing to suddenly detach from the wall, or wherever, and fall on you feet. It weighs nearly 3 lbs. It could break a toe and the fall would probably crack or destroy the hard plastic housing, and that would ruin the whole thing. I also experimented with adding a nice sized dollop of lube into the fingered insert before I started a session. I slathered the lube around a bit and replaced the cushion top. This way, when I slipped in my lubed up cock the rotating sensation delivered by the soft little fingers felt more like a blowjob than just a hand job. Fantastic!”
Hank: “Clean up is a snap. No matter how messy things get, lube, spunk, whatever, you don’t have to worry because you can disassemble the parts for easy cleaning. Some warm water and mild soap takes care of everything. The elastomer material is nonporous and so stretchy you can actually turn the cup with the little fingers in it inside out. And once thoroughly dry neither the finger insert or the squishy cushion top will be the least bit sticky or tacky. This is the thing we hate about a lot of other similar materials. We’re looking at you Fleshlight!”
Glenn: “I used the Bang! Bang! in the shower too and loved it, but I want to point out that it isn’t waterproof, just splash proof. This toy came with a very detailed owner’s manual in three languages. Unfortunately none of those languages was English. But I found all the info I needed on the Zizi site. One more word about the packaging; while handsome it’s not elaborate and it’s all biodegradable. Thanks for that, Zini.”
Hank: “Even though I wasn’t able to use the Bang! Bang!, it gets my highest rating. I saw what it did for Glenn and it also gets high marks for its stylish design.”
Glenn: “Besides working like a charm, the selling points for me were: it’s versatile, easy to use, easy to clean, and load of fun. I know I started out real skeptical about not just the Bang! Bang!, but that any manufacturer could actually deliver a mechanical masturbator that didn’t suck…I mean not in a bad way. I liked this thing so much that it will surely make my short list for The Best Product or Toy for Men when we do our year end round up at the end of the year.”
Complete Article HERE!

ENJOY

Sexual Tension or Domestic Tranquility

Name: Barbara
Gender: Female
Age: 48
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
I’ve been with my current lover for 5 years and I dearly love him. A couple of years ago he had hemorrhoid surgery and was in the hospital for a month. When he got home he refused to have sex with me but once a month of so. After two years his sexual interest is less and less. We have a wonderful time together, except for the sex. He’s a great guy and I know he loves me. We talk about it, but he tells me that he doesn’t need sex and he wants a platonic relationship. He’s not open to therapy. If he doesn’t want to be physical, I don’t want to force it but I’m masturbating all alone and I’m very frustrated. I don’t what to leave him, but I can’t stand the status quo.

This is a classic lament, Barbara. So many couples struggle with much the same thing. Love, intimacy, and sex—three very different things—yet we are socialized into thinking that they should always come to us as a package deal. And anything that doesn’t is less than optimum and often downright bad or sinful. What a tiny little box we’re all supposed to fit in.

sexual-FrustrationI believe there is a fundamental difference between love, sex, and intimacy, but so many people confuse or conflate these very different needs to their detriment. Some go so far as to destroy an otherwise good and vibrant relationship just because it doesn’t conform to what we perceive as the norm…ya know the big package deal I just mentioned.

I don’t know how we got it into are head that the only legitimate or wholesome sex is the sex that happens in a loving relationship, or that if there is no sex in a loving relationship, then that relationship is somehow flawed or defective. That’s simply not the case.

The way I see it, passionate sex is dependent on a good deal of sexual tension. Ya know, like the grips of hot monkey love that happens at the beginning of a relationship. In time this sexual tension dissipates. I might add that it takes a great deal of work to keep that kind of tension alive. Most couples don’t invest that kind of energy, even though they may pay lip service to the desire for it.life is too short

Intimacy, on the other hand, is dependent on domestic tranquility, in other words, the elimination of tension in the relationship, which often also includes sexual tension. And since most couples desire intimacy over sex they choose (either consciously or not) the domestic tranquility option. But the result is the kind of sexual frustration you report, at least for some.

Those who wish to have both sexual passion and intimacy need to be creative in developing both. It simply isn’t enough to believe that loving someone is enough to make it happen. It takes a lot of very hard work.

That being said, Barbara, if your partner refuses to join you in any effort to find a solution to the problems that plague your relationship, he is telling you that your sexual concerns are unimportant to him. My counsel is always the same under these circumstances. If your sexual needs are as pressing as you say they are, then confront him in no uncertain terms. No beating around the bush, darlin’, it’s ultimatum time. Tell your partner that dragging his feet, or obstructing all together your efforts to solve your relationship problems signals to you that the relationship, at least as it is currently configured, is in desperate trouble.

As I’ve suggested earlier, you can tell him that there are several ways of keeping the relationship going without expecting he fulfill all or any of your sex needs if he’s gonna be fulfilling your intimacy needs. But living without sex in your life is a deal breaker. He needs to know that you are serious about the crisis that exists. Of course, if you do this you will have to follow through on the ultimatum. To do otherwise would tell him that you don’t believe your concerns are all that important either.

If you ask me, life is too short to be living with all that sexual frustration. Don’t tolerate the frustration make it work for you. Your sexual frustration could be the very thing that motivates you to create better your situation for yourself and possibly your old man too.

Good Luck

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