Archive for March, 2016

The Oldest Performance Anxiety in the World

It can be hard to relax into sex. You want to enjoy yourself, you want the other person (or people!) to enjoy it too, and you can end up juggling a lot of different anxieties about what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, and whether your body is going to cooperate.
I always think that relaxing starts with admitting that you’re nervous because at least then you don’t have the extra pressure of having to pretend that you aren’t.

If the core problem is getting or keeping an erection, there are a few things you can try.

Some people find pills helpful. You can get herbal varieties that won’t require a trip to the doctor. Some people swear by them, others don’t find them especially useful. If you think there’s something going on with your health, it can be worth speaking to a doctor, just in case.

But, more often than not, it’s psychological.

My top tip for someone with the occasional difficulty is to try and notice when you start to get too ‘in your head’. Are you thinking more about whether you’re going a little bit soft than focusing on what’s actually happening?

You’ll lose the connection with your body more and more that way. It can be difficult to do, but try and refocus your attention onto what is happening. Does it feel nice? If so, try and put other thoughts to one side for a moment, and really feel the sensations.

This can sometimes be enough to let you get back into the moment. If it doesn’t feel nice – say something! It’s understandable to be shy about this stuff in the culture we live in, but I promise you, it’s worthwhile.

Some phrases to try:

“I prefer it a little bit more gentle/focused on this area/without the vigorous biting.”

“I liked it earlier when you were [insert what you’d rather be doing here. No pun intended.]”

“Can I show you how I like being touched?” (this has the added bonus of leading to an extremely hot demonstration.)

If you’ve tried refocusing your attention, and boosted your communication skills by bravely helping your lover stimulate you just right, but the problem seems to keep cropping up (or failing to), then I really recommend reframing sex with different expectations. I’ve found that it works because it takes the pressure off.

Managing to do penetrative sex can become the ‘be-all-and-end-all’ and if it can’t happen then the whole thing somehow seems like a failure. This way of thinking about things is a great way to make sure you don’t enjoy yourself. Penetration is nice, lots of people enjoy it a great deal, but there are other ways to enjoy each other – so start there.

If someone’s having issues with erections, sometimes I sometimes make an agreement with them that we’re going to assume they probably won’t get hard this time, and that’s okay. We also agree that we’re not going to whip out a condom and attempt sex the moment there is an erection (because it’s bound to vanish if you try that, trust me. Goodbye, erection, we hardly knew ye.)

We decide penetration isn’t going to be the focus of things, or the main goal, and we’ll see what kind of pleasures we can enjoy together and how it goes. Strangely enough, when you take the pressure off like that, things often become more enjoyable, and the body tends to respond more naturally because you’re not focusing so intensely on your own performance.

And once you’ve managed to relax a little bit, a couple of times, there’s a certain confidence that comes with it. It’s not such a big deal any more. Hard-ons aren’t so hard anymore when it doesn’t feel like the end of the world if you can’t get one.

Rosalie O'Connor