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Did I shock myself out of a functioning sex drive?
February 3, 2013 8:27 AM   Subscribe

I am worried a recent decision I made caused psychological damage to my libido. What are my options for recovery (if needed)?

Posting this anonymously, as the embarrassing details are below.

I'm a 29 year old Asian American male who was born and raised in the U.S. Like many of my Asian American peers, growing up and attending school was focused highly on academic performance with social skills and relationship skills taking last place.

I made it through High School with flying colors, finished undergraduate university and feel that I am fairly successful for my age. I am satisfied with where I stand professionally and enjoy my work. I'm still single, but have strong ties with my nuclear and extended family, and have a small but reliable social circle.

I have had much difficulty obtaining a romantic life. Having been raised in a town with a non-existent Asian population, I grew a fondness for Caucasian women (who I've found are generally not attracted to Asian men). I wouldn't have any objections if I met a nice Asian woman, but I have lost touch with my ethnic roots and am unable to read/speak/write my "native" language. I have found that this tends to disqualify me from pairing up with a female of my same ethnicity.

Growing up through my teenage and college years, I pretty much held off on attempting to get a girlfriend, although I tried a few times and failed miserably. In lieu of having an emotional/physical relationship with someone of the opposite sex, I got very much into internet pornography. Nothing too wild, just plain straight hardcore stuff from the popular companies. The end goal, more than anything, was to clear my head as needed so I wasn't a completely frustrated horndog around town.

I have had zero girlfriends in my life and had never had sex. Until recently.

One day out of frustration, I took a trip out to one of the legal brothels in Nevada and decided it was time to give it a shot. The experience was a failure. I couldn't maintain an erection, so we ended up playing around a bit and I left without having finished "my" business. I maintained face the entire time, though, and played off the impotence like it wasn't a big deal. She was a very skilled and attractive Caucasian woman, so it definitely wasn't her fault.

Ever since that day, though, I've felt like my libido hasn't been the same. I feel inadequate sexually and haven't felt a "true" erection where the intensity is also in my nerves and my brain (think morning wood). I can manage an erection, but it feels purely mechanical. I've also cut my porn watching activities by 95%. Overall, I feel like I've been deflated sexually.

I've been thinking about this for a while now and I have a few guesses as to what could be bugging me:

1. I have read that it is not uncommon to have first time sex jitters, but it sounds like most individuals often recover from this shortly. I wonder if I would feel differently had those jitters occurred with someone who was also unskilled at sex. Sort of like, "hey we're both new to this, so we'll try again later."

2. Years of watching porn painted an unrealistic picture in my mind that I would have been able to maintain an erection during my visit to the brothel. I remember my primary concern going in was that I'd be wearing a condom and wouldn't be able to reach climax, not that I wouldn't be able to get it up. Embarrassingly, this was also my first time kissing a woman.

3. The days prior to my brothel visit, I was particularly aroused for no reason and took advantage of this by masturbating up to twice a day.

4. I have witnessed the realities of sex first hand (maybe not in the most accurate form), and the "honeymoon" of being an ignorant virgin is long gone?

I don't believe I have issues as far as relating to women. I have a few great female friends and we have no issues and I don't feel that I look at them objectively or in a disrespectful light. I may have some light intimacy issues, but I want to believe they are purely out of a lack of experience, more than anything. By intimacy issues, I mean I'm probably a bit more reserved about how physically close I get with other people. (after all, it's not easy to be intimate if you don't have anyone to be intimate with)

I would like nothing more than to meet a great woman and to some day start a family. I think I would love being a parent and husband, despite my incredibly embarrassing path to where I am now. I am just concerned that something has changed within me that may never go away, or that would negatively impact my partner if I were to manage to find a mate.

Is this something that would be resolved through counseling? Is there a specific type of counselor I should seek?

Alternatively, should I try to "reset" things by cutting out the porn and finding someone with whom to connect emotionally? I feel like this would be worth doing, as the brothel visit was emotionally sterile and purely business oriented. I honestly don't know what it feels like to form a strong bond with someone and have that also build up sexual tension.

Hope I didn't make you cringe too many times. Any other suggestions are also welcome.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Alternatively, should I try to "reset" things by cutting out the porn and finding someone with whom to connect emotionally? I feel like this would be worth doing, as the brothel visit was emotionally sterile and purely business oriented. I honestly don't know what it feels like to form a strong bond with someone and have that also build up sexual tension.

This sums it up into exactly what I was going to say. I (female) do not get aroused by someone I don't have an emotional connection to. I know this is true for at least a couple of my male friends. I've also had the experience of lowered libido after a bad sexual experience. So I really think what you're experiencing is totally normal and that when you do find a woman who you have an emotional connection with, you'll be attracted to her.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:32 AM on February 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh, darlin', I think you may be overthinking the sex thing waaaaaay too much and that might be more your problem.

The words you've chosen to write about this are very, very clinical and analytical - and sexuality just plain doesn't work that way (or, at least, not exclusively that way). There is a lot of vague, intuitive, non-specific thinking when it comes to sexuality - stuff that you would never in a million years to be able to explain logically and rationally to someone else, but you just know in your gut is right for you. I keep thinking of this xkcd comic - that joke is true of sex as well as love.

I would indeed see a counselor - but not specifically to "fix my libido," but more of a general "so what the hell do I feel about sex in the first place." I'm getting the sense you're trying to think it through, and this is a thing that can't be worked through just by thinking about it.

You'll be fine, but I think you may be tackling things by thinking about them too much (which is something a lot of people do). Oh, and don't beat yourself up over that trip to Nevada either - sex is a very powerful urge, and it can make everyone do a lot of unusual things in the interest of experimentation.

You will be fine. Good luck. And relax.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:39 AM on February 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


One day out of frustration, I took a trip out to one of the legal brothels in Nevada and decided it was time to give it a shot. The experience was a failure. I couldn't maintain an erection, so we ended up playing around a bit and I left without having finished "my" business.

This happens to a lot of people the first time they have sex. It's not something you're born knowing how to do. You are normal. Relax. There is no rush. Keep watching porn, or don't, it doesn't really make any difference. Just try meeting people to just meet people and forget about sex. It's a lot easier to make it happen when you don't care about it so much.
posted by empath at 8:58 AM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"should I try to "reset" things by cutting out the porn and finding someone with whom to connect emotionally?"
yes, please do this. a lot of people cannot generate that sexual attraction unless there is some emotional connection - or at the very least they get along well enough at first that it seems possible to form an emotional connection in the future.

there's nothing wrong with you, but you're kinda over-thinking it. chill out, and look for women who seem attractive in general - not just how they look but also personality, conversation, and all that. i always find attraction is impossible to measure and quantify and plan. you just meet a lot of people and try to connect with the ones who seem interesting.

i'm sure when you meet a woman you like and the interest is mutual, the physical part will go fine.
posted by zdravo at 9:06 AM on February 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am just concerned that something has changed within me that may never go away, or that would negatively impact my partner if I were to manage to find a mate.

You've found out something about yourself: brothels don't work for you (maybe sex without love doesn't work for you). That's actually a DESIRABLE quality in a future mate, you know. You'll probably attract the type of person who prefers sex within an emotional bond, after having allowed the sexual tension to build itself up.

I grew a fondness for Caucasian women (who I've found are generally not attracted to Asian men).

Even if this were true, it wouldn't matter: you don't want general women, you want a SPECIFIC woman. (And speaking as a married Caucasian lady who's too old for you anyhow, I generally found Asian men highly attractive.) You don't need to jettison your porn stash, but if you're not actively taking steps to meet and woo potential romantic interests, maybe this would be a more rewarding arena to invest some of your extra energy, cash, and courage?
posted by feral_goldfish at 9:14 AM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good advice upthread, just nthing to cut out the porn, and reduce and vary your masturbation. It's common for men who get a lot more porn and masturbation than partner sex, to have trouble with real sex and a real partner when it does come along. So cut down, and I'm sure you'll be ok with the time comes.

Also, in my geographical area (SF Bay Area) nobody thinks anything of couples where the female is white and the guy is Asian... it's maybe not quite as common as the other way around, but it's common enough. And certainly there is an enormous east Asian population here of all different levels of "Americanization," including the scenario you describe, of having no linguistic or real cultural ties to the old country. Maybe you should move.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:42 AM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's very common for this to occur to someone in your situation. There's nothing wrong with your junk that some time and refraction won't fix.

Some people just can't perform in brothels. You might have better luck putting an ad up on Craigslist or your local equivalent, explaining your situation (be honest and open, but not overly wordy) and looking for someone to play around with with no pressure. Maybe with some porn playing, or whatever works for you.

Alternatively, start putting yourself in situations where you're gonna meet people where there's a mutual attraction, and when opportunities present themselves, bite the bullet make advances (just try and stay tactful, and wave off if the first attempt doesn't work).

Scoring some ED pills (viagra, or even better, the longer-lasting cialis) might let you work through these issues without having to worry if you're going to be able to perform. Since you're young and it doesn't sound like you have actual, physically-caused ED, a little smidgen of a pill should be plenty. Once you've found your sea-legs, as it were, and are more used to sex, you won't need 'em anymore.

It'll all shake out in time. Keep working at it!
posted by Drexen at 9:53 AM on February 3, 2013


You talk about yourself with such shame that I just wanna give you a hug. I mean "incredibly embarrassing"? Not at all. You were just raised in a different cultural context from the one around you that emphasized different priorities, and now you're having some difficulty navigating the dating world. That's not embarrassing, it's just something you'll have to deal with.

I grew a fondness for Caucasian women (who I've found are generally not attracted to Asian men).

This is certainly not true for me- I've dated some incredibly sexy Asian men. But there is definitely a (totally wrong and problematic) narrative in American culture that devalues Asian masculinity, and there's a real problem in which young Asian-American men sometimes internalize this and then have a hard time expressing and accepting their masculinity and sexuality. If you're the studious type, maybe reading up on this would be of some help to you? Because I could be totally off-base, but I think I'm picking up on some version of this feeling in your writing.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:15 AM on February 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I have never been to a brothel, but I can imagine it being incredibly awkward and unsexy. If I'm going to have sex a big part of the turn-on is that she likes me back and wants to do it just as much as I do. Someone doing it mechanically because it's her job and she has to... not sexy.

It's common for men who get a lot more porn and masturbation than partner sex, to have trouble with real sex and a real partner when it does come along.

I have never seen any evidence for this, outside of Dan Savage and the people who parrot him. Masturbation is natural and if you feel like doing it, there's no reason to not do it. Thinking it somehow makes you unsuitable for or incapable of sex with a partner is wive's tales and nonsense.
posted by drjimmy11 at 12:04 PM on February 3, 2013



I grew a fondness for Caucasian women (who I've found are generally not attracted to Asian men).


Yeah, I think you need to let go of this idea. Every couple I personally know with a straight Asian male has a Caucasian female partner.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:59 PM on February 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am a pervert. I like being a pervert. But I've been to a strip bar once or twice and it was incredibly depressing, and I went to a peep show once and it put me off sexy stuff for days. These experiences happened after I'd had happy, healthy relationships with good sex. If they were the only real-world sexual experiences I'd had, I can see them being pretty scarring.

Sex with somebody you like is lots of fun, and sex with somebody you actually love can be so, so great. I promise.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:40 PM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, you didn't shock yourself out of a functioning sex drive. Your sex drive is functioning more or less the way everybody's does. Not being able to stay hard if you're nervous, self-conscious, or uncomfortable is utterly commonplace. It's not a permanent mark on you, or a condition that you now have that has to be overcome somehow. It's just a thing that happens sometimes.

If you want to be a good sex partner to anybody you partner up with, one of the best things you can do is to be honest and communicative. If the same thing happens again, or you're worried that it will, just say so. Everybody understands nervousness, and there's plenty of stuff to do in bed that doesn't require a hard-on, and once you've given yourself a chance to relax a bit it's unlikely to continue to be an issue.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 2:20 PM on February 3, 2013


Also, if you're spooked about performing your first time, there's always the little blue pill. You can think of it as your ticket to an automatic, stress-free boner. Just sayin'....
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:49 PM on February 3, 2013


There are 7 billion people on this planet, and there's a kink for everyone, so I will not say it is impossible that you can only be aroused by having sex for the first time and you ruined your sex drive by doing it wrong that one time. But the odds are much against it. Novelty is arousing, for many of us, but there is lots of novelty to be had other than the first intercourse.
I think this encounter wasn't your cup of tea, the fantasy and anticipation was better than the reality, and you're disappointed and anxious. That is amazingly common for first times in lots of things, not just sex. But I think it's much much more common with first sex than we talk about.
I think you should work on letting go of your shame and embarrassment at your lack of experience (truly, it's just a modifiable characteristic, like hairstyle or mailing address, not something to be ashamed of just because it's so personal - and there's a lot more 29-year-old inexperienced people than you realize) and you should go try to date a lot. Not "date" meaning "fuck", necessarily - just join a dating service and go out with some people, and try out some kissing and hugging and groping with some enthusiastic partners, at whatever pace feels comfortable. I suspect (again, 7 billion people, so no guarantees) that you'll find your libido comes roaring back if you take the pressure off.

Also, porn, even "homemade" porn, isn't sex. Sex is messy, awkward, and comical, by turns in a way that I've never seen in porn.
posted by gingerest at 5:43 PM on February 3, 2013


Another woman here sending you an internet hug. Good grief, sweetheart! You're being way too harsh on yourself. Far more critical than the first woman who is going to fall in love with you will ever be. As others have said, even the best sex (and here I am assuming sex with someone you well know and care for and with whom you are comfortable) is often still a little awkward and first time sex even weirder. Porn is so not reality. Just relax and give yourself some time. You're going to be fine.
posted by applemeat at 7:47 PM on February 3, 2013


I don't think there's anything wrong with you. I would write this off as a lemon and try again--not at a brothel, but with a woman you like and who likes you. Doesn't have to be love. In fact, you might just want to enlist a friendly fuck buddy you can confide in to work on getting your mojo back. The best cure for bad experiences like this is time and experience. It just seems like a huge deal to you because it was the ONLY time. Get a few other times under your belt, and it'll seem like much less of a big deal.
posted by elizeh at 8:27 PM on February 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Very good advice upthread.

Only wanted to contribute a thought, as an Asian American-born male who read your description and have a lot of similarities (without going into details, was a virgin until I married in my mid-30's).

You have a ton going for you, in that you are happy in your work that you do well, and have the desire to meet a great woman and someday start a family.

So perhaps you could then work on widening the social circle (you mention that it is 'small but reliable') by engaging in interests outside of work. (Many threads here on AskMefi about that.) Perhaps you could sublimate the sexual into putting your energy and effort into meeting new and interesting women. I'd venture to say that if you had a wider social circle of acquaintances, many of these could move into solid friendships.

In my geographical area (Washington DC) there's a ton of diversity - well worth thinking about relocating if the opportunity presents itself if that is a problem where you live now.
posted by scooterdog at 5:51 PM on February 4, 2013


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