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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!

More of the Indomitable Human Spirit

Name: Bert
Age: 54
Location: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Dear Sir,
7 years ago I lost my lover who I had lived for 14 years by AIDS. 6 months later I met my present lover. His lover just died of lung cancer. We met each other at a time we needed someone in our life. I am not a person who steps inside easily into a relationship. For the first 3 years we had a review every 3 months and every 3 months we extended our relationship for another 3 months. I needed time to get over my loss. My problem is that I cannot ejaculate when I have sex with my present lover and my appetite for sex has vanished. Before my lover died I had the greatest appetite for sex and I had no inhibitions about sex. I feel shy and uncomfortable when he approaches me and I do have an erected penis. In the first years I thought the reason was my lost of my lover. But after seven years it must be over. Can you give me advice?

Grief has a profound effect on our sexual response. In my practice I have found that grief is one of the leading causes of sexual dissatisfaction and dysfunction. You, Bert, present the classic symptoms of grief induced sexual dysfunction and dysphoria.

As you probably know, some animals mate for life. When the mate dies, that animal will not mate again. Are you such an animal? Is seven years of grieving enough? I can’t say. Grieving is such an individual thing. What I can tell you is it’s time for you to bring this concern to a professional for help. I suggest that you seek the help of a qualified sex-positive therapist, someone who is well versed in both sexuality and grief counseling. It’s imperative that you address this issue as soon as you can. Don’t let this go unattended any longer. It will fester and destroy any sexual relationship you will try to establish in the future.

If you can’t find anyone to help you where you live, perhaps you and I can work together. Thanks to the internet my practice is no longer geographically bound. I am able to see clients all over the world. If you’d like to learn more about me, my philosophy and the services I offer; look to the tab in the header that reads: About DR DICK.  The tab in the header that reads: Therapy Available will explain how you can contact me to set up an appointment.

Name: Lenore
Age: 27
Location: IL
Whenever I have sex with ANYONE (it could be the hottest guy on the planet) I have to ALWAYS imagine I am with someone else from my past. The guy in question was the first guy I ever had sex with. We only did it once and I never saw him again after that. I was 17 in high school and he was 23 in the navy. Now if I don’t imagine this guy I can’t achieve orgasm, no matter how GOOD the partner I have is making me feel. I’m having a good time, I lubricate like crazy, but when it gets right down to it, I HAVE to think of this guy or no orgasm.
Can you give me some advice on this?

Are you suggesting that what you describe here is a problem? Or are you just making a point and asking me for my thoughts on the matter? I hope it’s the later, because I don’t see that your fantasy life is getting in the way of you enjoying your sexuality. On the contrary, your fantasies are enriching your sexuality. You’re able to fully enjoy sex, even to orgasm…with the help of your recollections of the guy who popped your cherry.

As to what goes on in your head during sex, well that’s no body’s business but yours, unless you want to tell your partner what’s on our mind. Everyone enjoys sexual fantasies as an integral part of their sexual expression. And rarely do those fantasies include the person right there bumpin’ parts with us. There’s nothing wrong with that, don’t ‘cha know! I mean, why would you want to leave your largest sexual organ, your brain, unstimulated when your pussy is having such a good time?

Why not just enjoy what works for you?

Good luck ya’ll

More Sex Wisdom with Mikaya Heart — Podcast #298 — 09/14/11

Hey sex fans, welcome back!

So glad you’re back for another big dose of SEX WISDOM with my amazing guest Mikaya Heart. As you recall from last week’s show, Mikaya is the author of The Ultimate Guide To Orgasm For Women; How to Become Orgasmic For A Lifetime.

You’ll also remember that in introducing last week’s show I said that Mikaya’s book is by far the best book about women’s sexuality that I have read in the past decade, if not longer. And apparently ya’ll agree, at least those of you who contacted me with your comments. Mikaya is so passionate and compassionate about women’s sexuality that if her name weren’t already Heart, the consensus is, we’d have to rechristen her that.

But wait, you didn’t miss Part 1 of our chat, did you? Well not to worry if ya did, because you can find it and all my podcasts in the Podcast Archive right here on my site. All ya gotta do is use the search function in the header; type in Podcast #297 and PRESTO! But don’t forget the #sign when you do your search.

Mikaya and I discuss:

  • The necessity of talking about sex;
  • The power of fantasy in sex;
  • The problem with disengaging our rational brain in sex;
  • The spiritual dimension of orgasm;
  • The shamanic sensibility of sex;
  • Different kinds of orgasms;
  • Sex as a metaphor for life;
  • Sex and aging;
  • The disappearing orgasm;
  • The role of relationships;
  • Love and sex.

Mikaya invites you to visit her on her site HERE! And look for her on Facebook HERE!

(Click on the book cover below for more information and to buy Mikaya’s book)

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Check out The Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection. That’s Dr Dick’s toll free podcast voicemail HOTLINE. Don’t worry people; no one will personally answer the phone. Your message goes directly to voicemail.

Got a question or a comment? Wanna rant or rave? Or maybe you’d just like to talk dirty for a minute or two. Why not get it off your chest! Give Dr Dick a call at (866) 422-5680.

DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

Look for my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously, or just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

Today’s podcast is bought to you by: Hot Plus Size Lingerie.
Plus Size Lingerie

Give To Get

Name: Suzanne
Gender:
Age: 25
Location: Auckland
I often fake an orgasm to keep my partner happy. Actually, I fake it every time. Do you think there’s a problem with that? I mean, I’d love for him to get me off but he’s pretty clueless about the whole sex thing. Besides the dreadful sex, he is a sweet guy.

Brilliant idea, Susanne! Rather than help your ineffectual lover overcome his inadequacy by telling him the truth and then offering him a little tutorial on how to make you cum — go ahead and lie to monkey about his sexual prowess. What could possibly be wrong with that?

I see absolutely nothing wrong with what you’re doin’…except maybe that when you’re done fuckin’ him, or he’s done fuckin’ you, the next unlucky chick he happens upon will have twice the work cut out for her. Not only will she have to tell him the truth — that he sucks as a lover (and not in a good way) — but she’ll also have to contend with his ego. Thanks to you and your deception, he’ll be totally convinced that he’s a fabulous lover when, of course, he’s not.

Here’s the thing, I keep hearing from women who tell me the same sad story that you are telling me, Suzanne. They’ve saddled themselves with some clueless chump and rather than take him aside for a little show and tell, they just go with the follow, or lack there of. And then one fine day, when they finally get fed up with the whole fuckin’ mess, they write to me for advice.

And my advice is always the same. Ladies; if you imagine that whatever dude you welcome to your bed will somehow magically and innately know the finer points of pleasing you without your input, you’re living in a dream world. Us men folk generally know nothing about women’s sexuality besides what we learned from previous partners and from the porn we watch. And for the most part, that is precious little.  And since a lot of your sisters are dumping their inadequate lovers back on the market without so much as a warning to other women to keep clear of the Neanderthal, the whole sorry disappointing cycle keeps repeating itself.

Ladies; do yourself, your lovers and all human kind a favor by taking responsibility for your own pleasure. By doing so you will necessarily have to inform the men you fuck on the specific dos and don’ts of doin’ you. This task will not only reward you with greater pleasure and satisfaction, but it will improve the lot of all your sisters. Because if/when you’re ever done with the guy he will be the richer for the experience of having known, I mean really known, something of your particular sexual response. And the next woman to have him will have less a chore in showing him around her particular pussy.

Good Luck

The Sex Wisdom of Mikaya Heart — Podcast #297 — 09/07/11


Hey sex fans, welcome back!

I hope you’re ready for some mighty fine SEX WISDOM, because that’s what’s comin’ your way. That’s right; this is the podcast series that is all about chatting with the movers and shakers in the field of human sexuality — researchers, educators, clinicians, pundits and philosophers — all who are making news and reshaping how we look at our sexual selves. And today I have the honor of welcoming a woman of distinction; an award winning author, holistic healer, sought after public speaker, activist, shaman and even a kitesurfing instructor, don’t cha know. I have with me the one and only Mikaya Heart.

Mikaya is the author of The Ultimate Guide To Orgasm For Women; How to Become Orgasmic For A Lifetime. It is by far the best book about women’s sexuality that I have read in the past decade, if not longer. And that’s saying a lot, sex fans. Listen; if you’re a woman, or you know someone who is, this is a must read for you. I’m tellin’ ya; if this amazing book doesn’t change the way you look at yourself and your sexual responses, or change the way you relate to the women in your life, then my name isn’t Dr Dick!

Mikaya and I discuss:

  • Women’s sexuality in general and orgasmic sexuality in particular;
  • The pervasive ambivalence women have about sex;
  • Her memoir, My Sweet Wild Dance;
  • Her book tour and workshops;
  • Her background;
  • The incredible variety of women’s sexual response and arousal;
  • How she found the interviewees for her book;
  • The power of thinking and talking about sex;
  • Defining sex and orgasm.

Mikaya invites you to visit her on her site HERE!  And look for her on Facebook HERE!

(Click on the book cover below for more information and to buy Mikaya’s book)

BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!

Check out The Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection. That’s Dr Dick’s toll free podcast voicemail HOTLINE. Don’t worry people; no one will personally answer the phone. Your message goes directly to voicemail.

Got a question or a comment? Wanna rant or rave? Or maybe you’d just like to talk dirty for a minute or two. Why not get it off your chest! Give Dr Dick a call at (866) 422-5680.

DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

Look for all my podcasts on iTunes. You’ll find me in the podcast section, obviously. Just search for Dr Dick Sex Advice. And don’t forget to subscribe. I wouldn’t want you to miss even one episode.

Today’s Podcast is bought to you by: DR DICK’S — HOW TO VIDEO LIBRARY.

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