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The Heartbreak of Male Performance Anxiety

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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!

Mean Girl

Name: Fay
Gender: Female
Age: 23
Location: LA
I met this guy on the Internet and he seemed nice and all, but I wasn’t that turned on to him. All I remember is he was pretty nerdy and had really sweaty palms. We went out a couple of time, nothing serious. He just wasn’t my type. So I stopped responding to his calls. Last week I was out at this club with some friends and I saw Mr. Nerdy with this other chic. And I was like, wait a minute, that skank’s hornin’ in on my stuff! I know I wasn’t returning his calls, but still, I saw him first. It was like totally freaky, how they were all kissy-kissy right there in everyone’s face. What should I do?

mean girl

Seriously? What should you do? How about getting a life your vacuous twit? And I mean that in the nicest sort of way.

If you could just pull your head out of your ass for a minute and listen to yourself, your misguided notions about dating and your fundamental lack of respect for the feelings of others would surly grate on you as much as it does me. Your chatter is like fingernails on a blackboard. I mean REALLY!

Think about what you are suggesting here. You’re gettin’ all territorial about some guy you could barely bring yourself to give the time of day to and then blew off like he was excess baggage. You didn’t bother to take the time to look beyond his nerdy-ness and his sweaty palms, like this other woman have done. Had you, you might have discovered what this other “skank”, as you so lovingly refer to her, has found.

Like most nerds, this guy probably has developed other means of making himself attractive and interesting to compensate for his nerdy-ness. Maybe he’s got a big dick, or he’s great in the sack. Maybe he got a big bank account or maybe he simply has a handle on the basic social graces, something that you, my dear Fay, have yet to grasp.

Your jealousy is neither cute nor charming. It does, however, mark you as self-centered and childish. For the most part, jealousy is a byproduct of a person’s lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. Here’s a tip. Try and develop a healthier sense of self, so that you can mature into someone who can interact with others in a respectful manner that is befitting other human beings.

Oh, and have a nice day! Sheesh.

New Mommy Woes

Name: Megan
Gender: Female
Age: 29
Location: Toronto
I’m a new mother and this is my first child. He was born 3 weeks ago, but I am still enthralled with the miracle of it all. So far motherhood has been pretty wonderful. Sure I’m tired, but just holding my son in my arms makes me so happy I sometime cry with the joy. There is a problem, however, my husband wants to resume our sex life, but I have absolutely no interest. I love him dearly and I know I owe him this, but I have no libido. What can I do?

Yep, this is common enough complaint. This is precisely the place where new parents experience the most strain on their relationship. And when you think about it, it’s not all that surprising. Most new mothers are exhausted by the expectations of motherhood. And first babies are the most challenging. Added to these burdens her partner eagerly awaits the resumption of the sort of sex life that was in place before the pregnancy. New mothers often feel like their husband is just one more person to service, one more person with needs and demands that are keeping her from much-needed sleep.

New Mother LoveNew mothers can find sex unappealing for reasons both physical and emotional. If you’re breastfeeding, your breasts are sore, heavy, and leaky. Your body just doesn’t feel sexy, with its stretch marks, cellulite, dark nipples and dark line down the abdomen, not to mention the weight gain and varicose veins. Then there is lochia, the discharge after the birth, which lasts for 3 to 4 weeks and does not smell very good. If you had an episiotomy, the stitches are very uncomfortable and you may worry about infection. Your hormones may still be in a state of flux, so you feel moody or depressed. And you may not have a good method of birth control, so sex is the last thing on your mind!

Some doctors recommend that new mothers refrain from sex until their first post partum examination, usually about 6 weeks after the birth.NewMother

So if you and your husband weren’t warned about all this, you’re probably both totally unprepared. And if you can’t talk about it, there will be trouble ahead. Many new fathers labor under the misconception that once the baby is born, their sex life will return to normal. Besides this being completely unrealistic; it mostly puts pressure on the wife to do, as you suggest, her ”duty”. This is no way to pursue a sex life together.

Of course, new fathers can help their partner move beyond those feelings of sexual disinterest by being an involved parent and helping around the house.

There are loads of sex things new mothers can do that will pleasure their partner that don’t involve full-on fucking. Hand jobs and blowjobs are always welcome. Reading erotica aloud to each other can be fun. Mutual masturbation, or even watching him and cheering him on as he squeezes one out is also an option. But probably the thing that will get your libido back is a lot of touching, massaging, hugging, kissing, and snuggling and not as a prelude to sex, but just for the joy of it. These things, without the pressure to perform will help reestablish the pair-bond between you and your old man, which will inevitably lead to the long awaited fuckfest.

Good luck

The Great Porn War

Name: Jennifer
Gender: Female
Age: 23
I am 23 years old and I like lesbian and gay porn. It’s been my favorite since I discovered it a few years ago. But my boyfriend hates the thought of people of the same gender having sex. I don’t like hetero porn, and that’s all he uses. Is there any way I can get him to enjoy my kind of erotica?

porn.jpgYour boyfriend a dreadful drag, huh? What’s he afraid of, do you suppose? Ya think he’s afraid he’ll pop wood while he’s watchin’ gay porn with his girlfriend. That’ll surly to shake his masculinity to its foundation. I mean, it’s one thing for him to get a boner when he’s checking out the queer stuff by himself — and you know he does! It’s another thing all together for him to get hard watching two dudes fuck while he’s with you. It’s clear to me that your BF has issues, darling. And I think you know that too.

Now I’m not suggesting that he has to like everything you like, or that you have to like everything he likes. A couple can have a really healthy relationship despite differences in the kind of smut each prefers. But matters of taste aside, I think a smart chick, like you, knows that porn is as much a political statement as it is a sexual statement.

Here’s what I mean. Most straight porn features male identified sex — exclusively. That’s probably why you, and 90% of your sister women, don’t like it. The producers of most of the stuff in this genre create it with a predominately straight male audience in mind. And you can pretty much count on it exploiting women in the process. Gay porn does not exploit women, for obvious reasons and lesbian porn is the most radical of all. It is unabashed female identified sex. No female exploitation there. Of course, I’m talkin’ about real lesbian porn, not the caca that simulates girl-on-girl sex that gluts the “straight” porn marketplace.

Most straight males get off on hot girl-on-girl action in straight porn, because the performance represents male identified sex. In fact, one of my good gal pals in the porn business often says that girl-on-girl sex in straight smut is about as far away from authentic female sexuality as gay porn, which has no women in it. i just can't

I’m gonna go out on a limb here, Jen and guess that you’re a little too radical for Mr. Whitebread. But if you think that he’s worth the effort involved in loosening him up, start by reassuring him that there will always be a place in your heart for his johnson even when you’re enjoying a sweet lesbo fantasy. If you really want to enjoy yourself with your guy while you enjoy your dyke porn, give him permission to do a voice over for the movie you’re watching together. Tell him you want him to pretend he’s a porn star and he’s gonna appear in the next scene with the two chicks you’re watching. Watch the lezzie scene together and then have him tell you what’s gonna happen in the next scene when he catches the two naughty vixens. Perhaps you could suggest that he roll play that with you after the movie. Ya see, Jen, you’re gonna have to trick the monkey into watching what you want, cuz he ain’t gonna open his mind all by his-own-self.

Deprogramming him of his homophobia may be a bit more challenging, but there are ways. You could start by telling him that everyone knows that no one sucks a guy’s dick like another guy. And so you want to pick up a few pointers from the pros before you go down on him again. When the big cock-sucking scene begins start grabbing at his package. We all know he’s gonna be hard as a rock. Those repressed types are so damned predictable. Now if at all possible start blowin’ him with the same vigor as the dudes in the movie. Blowjobs are the great equalizer. Mr. Whitebread will be enjoying himself so much he’ll hardly have time to reflect on how radical he’s becoming.

lesbian pronIn the end, I don’t think you should compromise and watch hetero porn unless he’s willing to compromise too. Of course you both could watch your chosen porn privately, but where’s the fun in that. Or you could just trade-off one scene of his for one scene of yours. Or compromise with some hot bisexual porn. There’s not a whole lot of really good bi porn out there, but there is some. Just be discriminating. Life is just too short for bad smut.

You could try dueling porn. Two screens, two TVs or a TV and a computer screen, each playing a different type of porn. Or you could really throw caution to the wind and have a full-blown fuck-O-rama — multiple screens with multiple images all going at once. It’s so easy to do these days with the proliferation of computers tablets, phones even, and online porn. And just about every household has at least two TVs and two computers lying around. So knock yourself out, girl!

It’s clear to me, Jen, that you’re gonna have to take the lead in this. You being the more enlightened one. I believe that your arousal will arouse him. And if your fire doesn’t ignite his, simply throw the bum out!

Good luck Ya’ll

You’re Pulling My Leg

Name: Jerry
Gender: Male
Age: 60
Location: Minnesota
I have a fixation with prostate stimulation. I have recently been giving myself perineum injections to the prostate with 2/3 xylocaine and 1/3 sodium cloride. The xylocaine is 2% with ephinepherine. I am careful to clean the injection site – just above the anus and use a 1 1/2 inch 25 guage needle injecting 3 ml. The feeling is fantastic when I hit the prostate. I actually feel the nerves take the anesthetic. I am careful to always make sure I do not hit a blood vessel before injecting by pulling back on the plunger. Is this fetish common? What dangers to you think are there? I find this a real turn on. I also have done many intra-rectal injections to the prostate but only use sodium chloride (salt water) as I cannot see the syringe to tell if I am injecting in a blood vessel. This requires careful cleaning of the anus but have never had any problems except very rarely giving myself an urethral infection.

You have got to be kidding! I mean really, Jerry! You want to know if this is a common fetish? Ahh, no, I’d have to say not all that much.hypodermic-needle

So I’m sitting here trying to imagine how you go about doing these alleged injections. What kind of physical position must you have to assume to see, and than land the alleged hypodermic needle on just the right spot on your taint (perineum) so that you hit your prostate? I suppose you allegedly do this with a mirror, right? But even then there’s plenty room for error, right?

It sounds like you been doing this alleged needle play for a while? I have to wonder, how in the world did you happen upon allegedly shoot up anesthetics right into your prostate? And where are you getting these alleged anesthetics, I wonder?

Everything about your story makes me very suspicious as to the authenticity of your reporting. If indeed you are doing precisely what you tell me, allow me to advise you to reconsider your actions. I don’t think this is a healthy pursuit for any number of reasons. And I suspect that you also have your qualms. I mean, why else would you ask me about potential dangers.not-a-golfer-cartoon

If you are experiencing periodic infections that tells me you’re not taking care of business properly. I’m gonna guess that you’re not properly attending to sterilizing the medical equipment you are using. And if your anesthetics are coming from a dubious source, well then anything can happen.

I’m guessing you have too much time on your hands, sir. Maybe you should take up golf.

Good luck

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