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NSFW: How do I feel comfortable with new partners?
October 8, 2008 9:35 AM   Subscribe

NSFW: Extreme nervousness or anxiety makes it very difficult to become intimate with new partners please help!

Please bear with me as this will be kind of long.

I am a 24 year old, single male who has mostly been in long term relationships for most of my life. After some introspection I believe that one of the reasons why I stay in long term relationships is because I am afraid or nervous to go out there and start dating because I find it difficult to form physical connections with new people though I am a very sexual person myself once I am comfortable enough.

This is the problem in more detail: When I first meet someone I am often good at the dating part, meeting them talking to them, making out and everything else but when things go into the bedroom even if (to put it mildly) I am extremely excited as soon as I reach for a condom and try to put it in.. I lose my erection....This happens I believe with 7 out of 10 new partners.....with some people I just seem to "click" and never have had any issues.

More information about my sexual history:

I lost my virginity with my first girlfriend when I was 17 but only after numerous attempts (it took us about a month of trying). Once we started having sex however it would be the norm to do it several times in one session. When i broke up with her there was a period of about a year where I was single and i had sex with six people....3 of those people I had the same issue it would take me a long time to feel comfortable while I must say that with the other 3 I more or less felt comfortable right from the get-go.


After that I went into another long term relationship for which it also took me a couple of months to become comfortable sexually but once I became comfortable I became my regular horny self and would have sex all the time.

I did not grow up in a very conservative household so I know this doesnt come from my parents. Sex was talked about very openly in our house and was encouraged from an early age (believe it or not) as long as we protected ourselves (yet both me and my brother waited at least till we were 17 to do it).

I however was very spiritual for most of my life and explored a myriad of christian religions from catholic, to Jehova's witness, to mormom, to 7th day adventist at least for 2 or 3 years each. I figured this might be one of the reasons why I behave like this but it has been 7 years since I was seriously religious and my brain is completely comfortable with my current relationship with God (pretty much a prayer here in there but no church involvement of any kind)

How does this affect me?

I feel that sometime I date people for longer than I should because I really dont feel that I have really gotten to know someone until we become physical...however if this takes 2 or 3 months I feel that for some people is too long to wait and in some occasions some people dont understand or dont think I am attracted to them (though many woman kinda like the fact that I am not just with them to get some "ass")...I also always fantasize about having the freedom of one day coming home with someone after a really good first or second date but at the current time I am unable.........

I tried consulting a psychologist who after seeing that there was nothing physically wrong with me prescribed viagra.....which I noticed does not work...unless I am comfortable with the person which brings me back to square one

I just go out of my second long term relationship and back out in the dating world and would like to make the best of it this time around...Do you guys have any advice? Any of you have had similar issues?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (15 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is ridiculously common among dudes. I'm 23 and the majority of guys I know have had this problem at one time or another and have joked about it while drinking. Two things to try:

(1) Spend some more time being in physical with these women without having sex with them. For example, lay down and just spoon her for a bit until you're sufficiently relaxed and immersed in conversation or feeling tired that you can't think about being nervous.

(2) More foreplay. If you're paying more attention to her than you are to you, you won't be able to think about being nervous.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:02 AM on October 8, 2008


Women are pretty familiar with all of this. People tend to overestimate the prowess of everyone around them. Porn ain't reality.

Everybody has bumped into these type of problems before, men and women. We're just human after all. It isn't as big a deal as you may think--your first gf stayed around long enough to where it got all worked out. I think you can expect that this will be the norm.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:06 AM on October 8, 2008


Yeah, this is normal. It's difficult not to worry about staying hard or whether it'll be good or whatever you're thinking about instead of thinking about the sexy sex you're about to have.

Remember, sex is awkward. Our bodies do weird things. Relax and enjoy yourself.
posted by JauntyFedora at 10:17 AM on October 8, 2008


This happened to me -frequently- when I was single. It's not uncommon at all. ONe of the first signs that my current wife was "the one" was how relaxed and loving and unfazed she was when it happened.

Don't sweat it even a little bit. Concentrate on enjoying the company of the woman you're with and let the rest handle itself.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:24 AM on October 8, 2008


Nthing that this is extremely common. Go to your doctor and ask for some samples of Cialis. They last 36 hours. Use it until your anxiety is gone and your confidence kicks in.
posted by Crotalus at 11:16 AM on October 8, 2008


This is pretty much a random guess, but it's based on real life experience with someone I know. He became nervous when he thought that his partner wasn't into him, or wasn't into the sex as much as he was, and that became an obsessive spiral where he began to think his partner wasn't fully consenting. This caused a loss of erection because he was terrified of somehow "raping" her.

If you're waiting a long time (more than 2-3 months is a long time in my experience) to have sex, could it be because you're afraid of rejection from women and thus putting it off? Maybe religious guilt has nothing to do with it - maybe that is self-deception. I suspect the women that you've had no trouble with have made you feel confident in bed. I suspect you had few doubts that they were really attracted to you. Of course, these are the women with whom you want to form relationships.
posted by desjardins at 11:29 AM on October 8, 2008


look, if you're really that nervous, science is there for you, bring a pill with you and that'll guarantee that you get it up. problem solved. if you need confidence for the few iintial encounters, that's confidence. just relax and go prepared. life's too short to obsess about small stuff like that.
posted by matteo at 11:45 AM on October 8, 2008


Just know that it's no big deal.

This is my recommendation. Proceed as normal. If systems suddenly fail, move directly to going down on your lady. Even if you don't have intercourse, chances are said lady will be very satisfied. Do this as many times as necessary. Once your subconscious realizes that even a lost erection isn't a distaster, much of the anxiety should go away naturally.

I would personally recommend against using any pills. Depending on how anxious you are, the pill might become an unnecessary crutch. You might convince yourself that you can't function without the pill.
posted by specialfriend at 12:47 PM on October 8, 2008


Yeah man, don't worry about it. Happens to me too, but not all the time. I haven't really been able to narrow down what exactly situations cause it or don't cause it, but it's pretty normal. Some guys won't ever admit to it and make it seem like it's some sort of thing to be ashamed of, but it's not.

I would say that hopefully the girls you get with will be understanding and it won't be a big deal. I would just explain it if it comes up with someone who doesn't understand and make sure that you emphasize that it's not because of her and that you're extremely attracted to her.

Thinking about it, the first time this happened was because I was really drunk, which is a physical thing. Then, I was nervous about it for a long time, and it happened once sober, so that made me more nervous. It's like a vicious cycle, if you can recognize that and laugh at yourself it might help.

I'm newly on the market again myself so here's to finding the type of girls who are secure enough to be patient about something like this!
posted by zhivota at 1:05 PM on October 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah. Been there, not been able to do that. I found that if you don't expect to have sex immediately, and instead just enjoy making out and being naked together, then you stop worrying about it as much. And then either you carry on as you were, and that's fine. Or you sleep together, and that's also fine.
posted by twirlypen at 3:01 PM on October 8, 2008


This happened to me -frequently- when I was single. It's not uncommon at all. ONe of the first signs that my current wife was "the one" was how relaxed and loving and unfazed she was when it happened.

Hey, get out of my mind! I was going to write exactly this.

It's really, really normal to have some erection issues with someone new (or when life is stressful, or after one beer too many, or for any other reason — erections can be fickle things). A lot of guys won't talk about it because admitting they have floppy issues is, for them, like admitting that they were castrated accidentally by the family vet during a disastrous Fido/owner mistake.

But really, most guys have had this happen at least once or twice. It sounds like you are more like me, where erections come much more easily with intimacy. That's ok, and you don't need to stay in a relationship just because of it, either. You do, however, need to learn how to negotiate the awkwardness of when it happens, because it's happened before and it's probably going to happen again. I mean, hell, I've been married for years, we have sex once or twice a day, every day, and yet whenever we have a break for a few weeks (like one of us is traveling or something) this still happens. Some people just need more intimacy and routine than others, for whatever reason.

When it happens, you can just shrug and make a comment about it is "hard" (ha ha) to be with someone new, and immediately get busy making her happy with your hands and mouth. For me, it always made it worse that first times were often very, very late at night, after drinking some alcohol, and so on. (But the good part is that usually the next morning I'd wake up ready to go — don't feel like 3am is the only time you can try to produce a boner.)

Any woman who thinks that this is a big deal isn't worth your time, honestly. It happens, it's normal, and if she can't deal that you are lucky to learn it immediately. Sex should be a lot more varied and exciting than just "sticking it in," and a woman who can recognize that and work with it is a lot more fun that someone who can only manage slot A and tab B.

Also, one of the effects of aging (and at 24 you already aren't 16, you know?) is that sometimes erections don't just magically happen on their own. It's totally ok to need (and to ask for, or to do it yourself) the stimulation you need. Foreplay should go both ways, right? And again, sometimes one can be so stressed that no amount of stimulation is going to produce a stiffy, but often a bit of oral, or some nice hand-work, can make the difference and get you ready for business. Learn what you enjoy and what you need, and become comfortable asking for that, just as you'd like it if she communicated what she needed from you.

Finally, there are more pills available than just Viagra — ask your doctor for some samples of the other erectile drugs in case one works a lot better for you. There's nothing at all wrong with using a chemical aid to get over the hump, as it were, any more than it would be wrong to drink a glass of wine to relax or to put on some good music. Again, there are lots and lots of guys using these things, though almost all are going to be reluctant to talk about it.
posted by Forktine at 3:54 PM on October 8, 2008


The main thing I wanna say is, you're not alone. In fact, I'm gonna guess this happens to more guys than you would guess.

Pretty much the same thing happens to me. The last relationship I started, there was roughly a month of sexual activity that was *ahem* challenging. I had trouble getting an erection, or if I got one, I had trouble sustaining it. I found it terribly frustrating. I tried to focus on all the ways we could have fun without an erection being involved. Manual stimulation, oral, both at the same time... I made sure my partner was very satisfied, and trusted that my body and mind would sort itself out. And one day, *click*, it did. Hasn't been a problem since them.

I talked about it with my partner recently. She wasn't particularly concerned, bothered or offended by it. She was having plenty enough fun, and had no complaints.

I'm guessing it's all psychological. Try not to think about it. And if you figure out how, let me know. :-)
posted by browse at 4:05 PM on October 8, 2008


Post high-school, the incline between making out and intercourse gets pretty steep if viewed over time. Smooch, smooch, smooch, BAM, penetration. What happened to all of that slow-motion fooling about on the couch, hoping that the parents wouldn't get home by the time you had popped a bra strap? It seems to vanish as soon as you hit college, from both participants. No adults to worry about (you're the adults now), no "rep" to maintain. Having sex with someone and suddenly realizing you don't know their preferred ice cream flavors can be problematic for some.

I haven't had performance issues so much as I've had effects where, if the incline is too steep, I feel completely disconnected from what is going on and do not enjoy it on any emotional level at all. The post-coital alienation ground any physical satisfaction I had into the dust. The only way around this for me has been sidling up to it, bit by bit.

Might I suggest a very protracted easing into things, step by step? Backrubs, naps, showers in a dark room (try not to slip and crack your head), heavy petting by candlelight, and so on. Making out with your shirts off for a couple of weeks. Then do it with your torsos oiled. Spongebath. Shaving one another's bits. Oh, and nobody is allowed to masturbate at all, during this period. Unless it's each other. Not to completion. Build tension without satisfaction, without even the expectation of satisfaction, and let time do the work.

Just keep your contraception and whatever goodies prepared and handy, because at some point, you'll both burst into flame and all rational thought will go out the window in a hurry.
posted by adipocere at 5:54 PM on October 8, 2008 [4 favorites]


I've discussed this very idea in the past with female friends, and the consensus we reached was that if a sweet and lovable guy was nervous enough to have problems the first time (or couple of times) and was just straightforward about it, it was a compliment. It just means the guy likes you enough to be nervous, you know?

Any girl worth dating will surely be okay with it as long as you're honest and kind to her. Bonus points for alternate sexual activity in the meantime.
posted by lauranesson at 8:01 PM on October 9, 2008


I've had this problem before. I'm currently in a relationship, and if it ends sometime, I expect to have it again.

The respondents to this thread have given some great advice. It's all about getting comfortable--with both yourself and the other person with whose company you're sharing.

What Lauranesson said has helped in the past--knowing that this kind of performance anxiety is sometimes natural can be a compliment. Hell, it can even be funny to talk about once you have enough distance from the situation.

I have one thing to add, though: if I get freaked out about worrying about getting nervous (it's really a cycle!), a shot of something strong, like whiskey, helps. Also, some 420 might work too if you're the type.

Good luck.
posted by hpliferaft at 8:52 PM on November 5, 2008


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