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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!

Turning Pro

Name: Kevin
Gender: Male
Age: 22
Location: Toronto
I’m just out of college and have a ton of bills and no real job prospects at the moment. A friend suggested I do some escorting to make ends meet. Guys tell me that I’m hot and I like sex, but I don’t know if I could pull it off. Suggestions?

You betcha I have suggestions…a lot of ‘em, don’t ‘cha know.

Being hot and liking sex are great assets if you decide to turn pro, but you’ll need way more than that. Being a sex worker is not like having sex for love or even having recreational sex. You will be exchanging sex for money and that makes it a business proposition. Therefore you’d be wise to approach this with as much forethought as you would any other career move. It is, after all, the world’s oldest profession.

abs.jpgIf you do decide to set up shop, so to speak, you’ll need the capacity to have sex with a much wider range of people than if you were looking for a date. And probably just as important, when there’s an exchange of money, the john becomes your customer. And you know what they say about the customer always being right. The truth of the matter is that all pro sex is client directed. It’s not about you even when it looks like it’s all about you.

So let’s say you’re a really great fuck, fun to be with too. You’ll also need the emotional distance and psychological resilience to cope with the intimacy issues this line of work creates. This is precisely the point where most fledgling sex workers flounder. They either give too much or not enough. Some actually resent their clients for renting them. I know, this is totally absurd, but it happens all the time. This lack of clarity will cause you to have trouble establishing healthy boundaries between you and your john.

Regardless if you are a cheap street hustler turning tricks to support a drug habit or an expensive rent-boy who is servicing the rich and famous, the pitfalls are the same. A lot of sex workers are self-destructive or have huge unresolved sex issues that they try to compensate for by making people pay them for what they usually give away.

If you still think this is a line of work for you, Kevin, be aware that your mind and body are your greatest business assets. Take care of them. Nurture them. Keep them clean, fit and toned. Hygiene, both physical and mental, is a must. Body awareness, not the narcissistic type, and safe-sex practices are your frontline defense against STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Make it your business to be tested for HIV and the other common STIs on a regular (every 3-6 months) basis.

Stay clean and sober while on the job. More sex workers get busted for drugs rather than hustling. Know how to handle a drugged out client. You’ll probably see a lot of those. Know that they can take forever to get off, and can sometimes be paranoid and dangerous.

balls6.jpg

Speaking of getting busted; you know this line of work is against the law, don’t you. That of course doesn’t stop lots of people from plying their trade. But the successful ones will have their wits about them, particularly in terms of how they market themselves. Never suggest, in any forum — written or spoken, that you are offering sexual favors for money.

Be fiscally responsibility. Plan for the lean times…and there are always lean times. You’ll probably be a hot property at first; ya know the whole “new meat” phenomenon. Don’t let this go to your head. Count on there being cuter, younger, hotter competitors getting off the bus tomorrow. Try to cultivate a number of regular clients. Have a thought to how and where you will market yourself. And I fully encourage you not to do this full-time, at least not at first. If you find it difficult to meet your financial goals, you’ll be tempted to do more and more risky things just to make ends meet.

Sex work is often more about being psychologically present than a sexual performance. Your clients will often be more lonely and isolated then they are horny. Treat them with respect. Improve your mind. Make yourself interesting. Stay abreast on current affairs and the popular culture. Develop other skills like massage and bodywork.

You should have at least one trusted friend who knows your whereabouts at all times, or who has access to your appointment book. Protect yourself: use a pager or cell phone and never make a date with anyone who won’t share his/her phone number with you. Always make a call back before you head out. Keep an appointment book, in code if you must.

Carry a travel bag or backpack with you to all your “dates”. This should contain the basics: condoms, lube, massage oil, handi-wipes, toys, etc. But you should also have an extra shirt and mace (or other protective equipment). Keep all your belongings — clothing, phone, watch, and wallet — together and near your bag. Know where that bag is at all times and be ready to pick up and leave if there’s trouble.

I also suggest that you connect with other sex workers in your area. There is strength in numbers. Other rent-boys will provide you with essential information about troublesome clients and help you get the lay of the land, so to speak.

Finally, here’s a few of great resource for all sex workers — The Sex Workers Outreach Project, BAYSWAN, and St James Infirmary.

Beaver Trap

Everyone here at DDSA.com is about to head out for our annual end of summer holiday. But before we do, there’s this little ditty.

Name: Ward Clever
Gender: male
Age: 40
Location: Suburban, USA
My wife, June, has been passing around the beaver, if you know what I mean. This has got to stop. That beaver belongs to me. What do you suggest I do to teach her a lesson?

Dear Ward, I hear ya!  I know how troubling it can be when the little woman wanders. What’s a husband to do?Deluxe Female Chastity Belt-1

I think it’s time to trap that Beaver Cleaver, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

Here’s what you’ll need to get the job done. The Pink Deluxe Female Chastity Belt, a top quality piece of pink leather BDSM fetish gear. So feminine, yet so sturdy!

This deluxe locking chastity belt has a waist belt, and a second belt going between the legs flaring out in an hourglass shape around the crotch area, giving more coverage in front and in back, while narrowing between the legs to conform to pelvic anatomy. How thoughtful!

Deluxe Female Chastity Belt_2Ward, my friend, not only will this little number trap June’s beaver, it will keep her bunghole from wandering too!Large Heart Padlock

This leather harness is a full-fledged chastity belt, don’t cha know. Both of the adjustable belts are lockable. The whole belt requires four locks (not included). Remember, beavers are wily creatures so security is a must if you want to get the job done right.

And while you’re at it, pick up four of these Large Heart Padlocks. You’ll want to properly secure the chastity belt and what better way to do that then with a little something that says, “I Love You?”

See, being a thoughtful loving husband is as easy as pie.

Good Luck

Loosey Goosey

Name: Anne
Gender: female
Age: 28
Location:
My question is kind of embarrassing, but here goes. I gave birth to a nine pound beautiful baby four weeks ago. I am happy to report that both mother and baby are doing fine. That is except for the fact that my vagina is still stretched out of shape. My question is can I hope to have it return to its previous shape? Also, I’ve heard that new mothers should wait for six weeks after a birth to start having sex. The problem is that my husband is really horny and he doesn’t want to wait. So I’m wondering will it hurt if I start sooner? Another thing, does breast-feeding interfere with my sex drive? I don’t feel really sexy these days. Sorry for so many questions in a row.

In the immoral words of Prissy in Gone With the Wind, “I know nutthin’ about birthin’ babies, Miss Scarlett.”

Congratulations on the birth of your child, Anne. Wow, nine pounds, huh? Pretty hefty! I’ll bet he’s adorable. Everyone here at drdicksexadcice.com is betting that your child is a boy? Us boys tend to give our mommas a hard time right from the get go. At least that’s what my own dear sainted mither used to say.

kegels

I’m also gonna make another assumption, this is your first child, right? Well, the size of the baby as well as the number of children the woman has carried certainly does affect the elasticity of her vagina. No rocket science there, I suppose. Birthin’ babies is pretty traumatic to your pelvic musculature. These muscles lose tone with each successive delivery. But never fear darlin’, there are muscle-toning exercises known as kegels that will help you tighten things up in jiffy.

geisha_balls_pix_7-1Excuse me for a moment, Anne; I think I’m losing the males in my audience. Here’s a tip for all you guys out there who are reading this and rolling your eyes and getting ready to turn the page because you think this is some kinda Oprah — V-Jayjay moment. Listen up you monkeys; kegel exercises aren’t just for the ladies. Us men folk have pelvic muscles too. So pay attention, you’re gonna want to know about kegels too.

Sorry about that Anne. See what I mean about boys and givin’ folks, not only their mommas, problems? Anyhow, if you’re not already doing kegels, I strongly recommend that you start right away.

What are kegels, you ask? They’re muscle contraction and relaxation exercises designed help restore tone to the muscles that surround the opening of the urethra (see guys, we have one of those), vagina (ok we don’t have one of those, and anus (we sure as hell have one of those). Since this includes the muscle that you use to stop and start the flow of urine, you can check if you’ve identified the right muscle by testing your kegel technique while peeing — if you can stop the flow of urine when tightening, then you know that you’re contracting the correct muscle group. BTW, the main muscle is call the pubococcygeus muscle, or PC muscle for short.kegels-someecard3

Let’s try this for starters. Imagine that you’re trying to stop yourself from farting or trying to hold your pee. Notice the feeling of squeezing and lifting — it’s a sensation of your pelvic muscles tightening and drawing up. Try it now, while you’re reading this. That’s the beauty part of kegels; you can do them anywhere, anytime. If you’re finding it difficult to isolate the muscle group, insert a couple fingers into your vagina before doing a kegel. If you feel pressure around your finger while you are tensing your PC muscle, then you’re on the right track.

However, if you’re tightening your abs, squeezing your legs together, clenching your butt, or holding your breath then you’re not exercising the right muscle group. The object here is to isolate your pelvic floor muscles. Those are the ones you wanna be working.

I want everyone, not just you Anne, to work on both muscle strength and tone. Start with five strong prolonged squeezes (5 seconds apiece). Hold then Relax. Then do a series of 10 rapid contractions in a row. Doing three sets of these two types of kegels twice a day for a week is your goal.

mother-and-childLet’s go over that one more time. Start with five strong prolonged squeezes (5 seconds apiece). Hold then Relax. Then do a series of 10 rapid contractions in a row. Doing three sets of these two types of kegels twice a day for a week is your goal.

When you’ve accomplished this you’re ready to increase the set to eight or ten prolonged squeezes and 20 rapid contractions in a set twice a day for a week. The advanced kegeler is able to vary the type and duration of his/her PC squeezing; slow prolonged clenches to quick flutters.

As an aside, I’d like to turn you on to a swell podcast interview I did, a while back, with the maven of pelvic floor strength, the incomparable, Lara Eardley. You’ll find the shows HERE and HERE.

On to the other issues you raise. Your uterus and cervix underwent significant changes as you were delivering your baby, and they need time to heal. So if your husband is being a bigger baby than the newborn…see what I mean about boys drivin their mommas and everyone crazy…by pressuring you for nookie, make a deal with him. Hand jobs and blow jobs only for the first six weeks after delivery. I’m sure you can sympathize with the big galoot. He’s probably freakin’ nutty from lack of nookie. How long has it been since he had some of your fine pussy?1-week-postpartum-belly-front

As an aside, allow me to turn you on to a terrific product review we featured a while back. Dr Dick Review Crew members, Jack and Karen, were in much the same situation as you and your man when they reviewed the VërSpanken.

Finally, breastfeeding may indeed interfere with your libido, but more likely it’s just the sheer exhaustion of this postpartum period. Nursing your baby every couple of hours, especially during the middle of the night…I mean, how long can that go on before you start looking for your Uzi?

And probably the idea of your husband grabbing at your boobs while they’re still real sore from junior chompin’ away at them probably doesn’t incite great waves of horniness either. Rest assured, this lack of interest in sex won’t last forever. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling all pretty and randy once again and soon you will be inviting and welcoming your hubby’s advances.

Good Luck!

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Open Hearts, Open Minds, And Open Relationships

Name: Deborah
Gender: female
Age: 36
Location: Rome
I like your site very much. Thank you for some much honesty. I have a question; do open relationships really work?

Well gee, thanks for your kind words, darlin’; I appreciate it.

To your question about open relationships, I guess that depends on the maturity level of the people considering opening their sexually exclusive relationship. And how much work they are willing to put forward to communicate with one another through all the details that such a decision entails.open relationship

That being said, there are a few things us sex researchers know for sure. In most cultures, people claim to practice sexual exclusivity, which is commonly referred to as monogamy. Although I think that’s a misnomer. Monogamy literally means having one union, which, as we all know, tells us nothing about sexual expression of either or both partners.

Lifetime sexual exclusivity (being sexually involved with only one person for one’s entire life) is rare. Serial sexual exclusivity (having a series of exclusive relationships over one’s life) is much more common. And despite knowing that we humans do not mate for life, we continue to presume that sexual exclusivity, or monogamy is the only legitimate kind of coupling.

This, unfortunately, leads to our culture’s obsession with cheating — that is, having sex with someone outside of a monogamous relationship. And frankly, what I know about humans, human relationships, and human sexuality; I can say for certain that fidelity is not necessarily a genital issue. One can indeed be faithful to someone else and still have the freedom to express him/herself sexually with others. It happens all the time. In these cases, fidelity is to the relationship and the agreements, parameters, and boundaries mutually agreed upon by the partners. Which get me back to my opening comment about the need for communication. Of course, it’s much easier to presume that everyone in a relationship is working under the same rubric, but that kind of presumption is a fool’s paradise.

polyamory1Another shortcoming of setting up sexual exclusivity, or monogamy as the only legitimate kind of coupling is that it diminishes all the other types of relationships that flourish albeit in a more covert sort of way. And here I’m talking about an array of open relationship models and polyamory. The fact that we don’t hear a lot about these non-traditional relationships shouldn’t suggest to you, or anyone, that they don’t exist or that they aren’t practical or practiced my a lot of people. They are! It just means that most people in non-traditional relationships know not to go public in a society that would denigrate them for their lifestyle choices. That’s how things are here in the good old US of A; and I’ll wager it’s also true for you Italians. Am I right, or am I right?

Open relationships and polyamorous relationships work because the people in them adhere to some basic tenets about how to conduct themselves.

First among them is the notion that these alternative relationships must be chosen; they can’t be mandated. If one or another of the persons considering an open or poly relationship is being pressured to go along with the flow, or is fearful that he/she will be alone if he/she doesn’t comply with the will of the other(s), that kind of duress is not gonna work.

Each person in the relationship needs to take responsibility for the choices he/she is making. If you’re not up for the task, or if this kind of arrangement is not compatible with your personality type, don’t attempt to override that. You will only jeopardize the relationship for the other(s) involved. However if the idea appeals to you, give it your best shot. I can guarantee it will be a learning experience. Just remember, exploring something and having it carved in stone are two very different things.

Second, communication is key. The more complex the relationship structure the greater the need for open lines of communication. Know your boundaries and express them clearly. Ask questions; never assume you know something when you don’t. If you will allow me some shameless self-promotion, I’d like to direct your attention to my latest book, The Gospel Of Kink — A Modern Guide To Asking For What You Want And Getting What You Ask For. It’s a communication and relationship-building workshop, for folks in nontraditional relationships, in workbook form. I think you will find it most enlightening. GOK small cover

Third, know yourself! You must be able to deal with your emotions, particularly jealousy, in an up-front, adult way. This is often much easier said than done. If you need to be the center of attention just so you can feel good about yourself, or you have serious territorial issues — this is mine, this is mine, and this is mine! Alternative relationships are probably not for you.

Know what keeps you even keel in terms of what you need and what you are able to give. There has got to be a healthy tension between these two things. If you’re the kind who gives too much and resents not being rewarded for your gifts, stay away from alternative relationships. Or if you are so needy that you can’t stand it when someone else is enjoying his/her time in the sun; open or poly relationships are decidedly not for you.

You should also know that alternative relationships, of whatever stripe, are, for the most part, on the fringes of what society will accept. And some are outright taboo. This doesn’t mean you will have to slug it out on your own, in a vacuum of support. On the contrary, you will no doubt find that the people who are living contrary to the expectations of the popular culture are often a whole lot more generous with their support and compassion then those following all the rules.

You will find that your support system will shift from more traditional sources like family, church, and community to alternative sources like clubs and social groupings of other like-minded individuals as yourself. A common mistake made by those in non-traditional relationships is to take their problems and issues to their traditional support systems. This rarely works because the traditional support system will inevitably blame the non-traditional relationship setup for the problem. This is not true, of course, but how would those in traditional relationships know otherwise.

I always suggest that those in non-traditional relationships bring their issues to their non-traditional support system. Here you are less likely to encounter judgments about your life choices and more help with overcoming the problems at hand.

Good luck

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