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Why am I experiencing so many new sexual problems in my early 30's?
December 7, 2013 4:38 PM   Subscribe

I've been dating my girlfriend for about two years and we've been living together (with her five year old son) for about four months. Over the last six months or so, I've had several new sexual problems that I've never experienced before. I ejaculate very quickly after penetration, my refractory period is so long that I'm basically "one and done," and my libido has decreased. I'm still very attracted to my girlfriend, and she can still turn me on, but I also have more days when I'd be perfectly happy to cuddle up and watch a movie instead of having sex, which is completely unlike how I felt a year or so ago. I'm not THAT old, and all the other parts of my relationship are going extremely well. Why am I experiencing these problems, and what can I do to solve them?

First off, I understand the importance of oral sex, fingering, etc. in terms of pleasing my girlfriend. We both enjoy all of those things, but, they're much less satisfying for us both when I HAVE to use them as substitutes for vaginal sex.

Before these last few months, I've been able to last for a good length of time and get another erection fairly quickly after an orgasm. My diet and exercise habits haven't changed over the past six months, and I'm not depressed or on any medication. Neither of us have gone through any major changes in appearance. My girlfriend and I are very happy in the other parts of our relationship, and I don't feel like either of us has any hidden emotional issues. Sexually, I stopped viewing porn and masturbating outside of sex shortly after these problems began because I thought it might help.

It also seems important to point out that these problems began before my girlfriend and her son moved in with me.

My least favorite part of all this is that my girlfriend blames herself for the issues and believes that I'm just not as attracted to her as I used to be.

Are these issues just a normal part of long-term monogamy, or a normal part of growing older and taking on the "husband and father" role in the relationship? What can I do about solving them?
posted by Chuck Barris to Human Relations (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm seeing a few different but overlapping problems here, which probably look more like one big problem from your perspective, since they're all happening at the same time. I'll break them down into a list, as is my wont.
  1. Premature ejaculation and long refractory period
  2. Decreased libido
  3. Girlfriend blaming herself
  4. Concern that your new domestic situation is negatively affecting your sexuality
These are all tied into each other, but I think maybe it will help if you tease them apart a bit and look at them as separate but inter-related. I can think of some ways to attack them.

I'm going to start with the reduced libido. One thing to keep in mind is that reduced libido is only a problem if it's bothering you and your partner. Is it possible for you and your girlfriend to be genuinely satisfied with your somewhat-reduced libido? What if it only recovered about halfway back to where it was before she and her son moved in? It's only a problem if it's a problem. Now with that said, it is definitely normal for libido to fluctuate somewhat over the course of one's life and not just when people get into their later years. It is even more normal for it to fluctuate with life circumstances, and for it to decrease dramatically when those circumstances are stressful. (Sexual performance can change due to stress as well, as you seem to suspect it has.) You can't control the former, but you can work on the latter.

That brings us to the other points. You've identified some possible sources of sexual stress in your life, and I think your intuition is probably pretty good there. (The decreased libido is probably a source of stress in and of itself too, creating a sort of feedback loop.) Let's talk about ways that you can try to reduce these stressors.

One, you need to sit down with your girlfriend and reassure her that these problems are your problems, not hers. She can help you with them, but she is not the cause and she is not responsible for them. I don't know what the best way is for you to convince your GF that she is not to blame (I'm not privy to the dynamics of your relationship) but you need to think about it and take care of that. I would do this right away, as this dynamic can really poison a relationship if left unchecked.

Two, you're going to have to accept that you're probably finding the adjustment to having your GF and her son living in a space that was until recently yours alone is a little bit stressful. This is normal. It's nobody's fault, in fact it's a welcome change (I assume) but you've experienced some major changes in your living situation and that's inevitably somewhat of a stressful adjustment to make. It's normal (though by no means universal) for this to affect your sexuality. Probably the best healer for this is going to be simply time, but acceptance will speed the process as well. You may be unconsciously resisting the "intrusion" of your GF and her son into your space, even if on a conscious level you are glad to have them there. Work on accepting it, stop resisting. There may also be things your girlfriend can do to help make you more comfortable, I don't know. Be wary of making her feel unwelcome though, you don't want that.

Once you've taken care of the first two things you may be well on your way to dealing with the problems of premature ejaculation and decreased libido. There are things you can do to deal with the premature ejaculation directly though. First off, you need to stop thinking of manual and oral sex as "substitutes" for vaginal intercourse. They are sex. They're different types of sex, and maybe not your number one favorite type of sex, but they're sex nonetheless. Remember to enjoy them for what they are. Secondly, you need to decrease the stimulation you're delivering to your penis during sex. If you don't normally wear a condom with your girlfriend, try wearing one. Move more slowly. Pull out well before you feel you're about to come and drop the intensity right back down to cuddling and petting for a while until you feel relaxed again. There's always the old trick of thinking about something unsexy while you're doing your thing as well, though personally that's not my favorite. Enlist your girlfriend in this endeavour – this is one way she can help you with this problem.

"Fixing" this problem is going to take time, think months. Fortunately, a few months of less-than-totally-satisfying sex is really not that big a deal in the context of a committed relationship, especially if both partners are working on correcting the issue. You'll get there, just don't rush it. Try to be relaxed about it, anxiety is a real killer as far as libido is concerned. It's going to take time, but it's going to be OK.
posted by Scientist at 5:36 PM on December 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


This seems to have come on rather suddenly. You are too young...see a doctor...please.
posted by cat_link at 5:37 PM on December 7, 2013 [4 favorites]

Yeah... It's embarrassing, but really it sounds like something to go see the doc about.
posted by edgeways at 5:45 PM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

if it isn't something physical...

It also seems important to point out that these problems began before my girlfriend and her son moved in with me.

...then i'm guessing it is because of this. you said the changes started just 2 months before moving in together so i'm betting moving in together was being talked about a lot and planning was happening 2 month before the move.
posted by wildflower at 6:35 PM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

Could it just be the stress of transitioning to living with a child? Especially if this is your first time living with a young child, could part of your brain have not adapted to "it's okay to have sex" with a kiddie suddenly in and out of your own personal space? A part of your brain you're not used to speaking up is being signalled to slow right down in terms of sexytimes, perhaps?

posted by human ecologist at 6:37 PM on December 7, 2013

Do kegels. Buy a book called "the multiorgasmic man", read it and do what it says.

As for your refractory period, that tends to get longer with age. But according to most sex manuals I've read, and according to my experience, learning to have non-ejaculatory orgasms and reducing your number of ejaculations per week will decrease your refractory period.

Learning to have total control over your ejaculation is not difficult, and learning to enjoy non-ejaculatory orgasms is relatively easy too.

I learned how to do this in my early 20s, it took less than a month. There are several other key pilars of good sex besides this, but I think it's an essential thing for men to know how to do. It puts you in control of your own pleasure levels, you don't always have to take control, but it's incredibly liberating to be able to.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 7:23 PM on December 7, 2013

Good heavens. Us women go get pap smears all the time. Go see a doctor and rule out anything weird. Then you can work on kegels or therapy or whatever is recommended in relative peace!
posted by jrobin276 at 8:12 PM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

It also seems important to point out that these problems began before my girlfriend and her son moved in with me.

When exactly did they begin? Was it around the time it was decided that they would move in? Also, it could be the presence of her son. That can disturb people--or more accurately, a person's reaction to their own emotional reaction can create something like this. Often times its hard to handle new, negative feelings about people who are objectively blameless in the situation. Look for feelings like that.

Also, go back to the porn. It sounds weird, but do it--because I have a hunch it is an emotional thing, not a physical thing. Basically for men, the only really physical problem is ED from age or circulation issues. Most of these things for guys are emotional.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:31 AM on December 8, 2013

Also there are great licensed psychologists who focus on sexual issues and you should see one if it persists.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:32 AM on December 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

"we've been living together (with her five year old son) for about four months"

I think that's highly relevant. The presence of young children in the home often makes it hard for some of us to really relax and have all the sex we want, when we want it. But that's possibly also a red herring.

You should see a urologist. He'll tell you something like 30% of men in their 30's, 40% of men in their 40's, 50% of men in their 50's and so on experience such problems, and lowered libido increases with age, generally.

A urologist will inquire about your lifestyle: are you currently or have you ever been a smoker of cigarettes or marijuana? Do you spend a lot of time riding a bike? These activities are known to cause some sexual dysfunction in men even as young as you are.

Go get checked out.
posted by hush at 9:00 AM on December 8, 2013

A friend had similar symptoms. Turned out to be severe zinc deficiency, which is needed to process Testosterone. Go figure?

So basically, go see a Dr.


Second, try having a few nights where you don't sleep together. By which I mean literally sleeping, but only if that doesn't make either of you feel neglected. You can kind of build up a bit more touch-hunger that way.
And apparently there's may be a slightly inverse relationship between some happy cuddly hormones and horniness (*fails to link to anything substantiating this*).
Try not to replace sexytimes with the girlfriend with masturbation, but I'd suggest do try some of your old routines/porn, and see if anything has changed? If you are away from each other for any length of time, try and keep up the frequency, so your body doesn't think 'none' is the new normal, then take a break awhile before actually seeing her, so you're still a bit, 'hungry'?

(There does appear to be a difference between mens & womens sexuality, in that for me, masturbation can replace the need for sex, so the recommendation is to quit, but for women, it tends to be better to masturbate more - the more you have, the more you want, but I think there is a bit of both going on for everyone).
posted by Elysum at 4:50 PM on December 8, 2013

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