Why does the idea of sex make me so uneasy?
March 3, 2010 9:34 AM   Subscribe

How to overcome feelings of sexual inadequacy?

I am a 19 year old male in a long term relationship with a young woman. We have been sexually exclusive for two years, but we have been together much more over the past 6 months since I began at the same university as her. These issues have been present throughout the duration of our relationship, but have become more of an issue since we have been together more often.

Issues are:

1) I persistently feel sexually inadequate, which makes me averse to initiating sex. This makes my girlfriend feel like I do not desire her, and is upsetting our otherwise very strong, happy relationship. She assures me that I am a very good lover (size, stamina, GGG).

However, I can't get over feelings of weakness, and prefer to express my love non-sexually. I usually feel like sex is a performance, not really who I am. I do enjoy it once it gets going. I just feel I have a low sex drive (or at least lower than hers). To clarify, I have no trouble achieving or maintaining an erection, so please nothing about the mechanical aspects, which are just fine.

2) My girlfriend has also said she feels that the 'spark' is out of our relationship. This is partially because the burden is on her to initiate, and partially because we have so much affectionate love that anything lusty or exciting seems foreign. What can I do to keep things interesting?

Can you please point me in the direction of resources (blogs, websites, books, etc) that can help me work on these two issues. Also, personal experiences or tips would be great.

This is causing me a great deal of anxiety because to my girlfriend, persistent sexual incompatibility is a deal breaker. I love her, and want to maintain an otherwise great relationship (please no DTMFA). Thank you so much, Mefites!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Stop masterbating... you'll want her and WILL initiate when the time comes.
posted by mrrisotto at 9:42 AM on March 3, 2010

Even with your young age, I would say that, if you two want to stay a couple, you would benefit from some couple counseling sessions.

Maybe low-sex-drive is who you are, and if hers is higher, then there is not a good match there.

I think that a therapist could help you parse these things.
posted by Danf at 9:49 AM on March 3, 2010

You're probably inducing a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy here. You get anxious that you'll get anxious in the bedroom which causes you to get anxious etc. So my first bit of advice would be to step back and stop worrying so much. It's just sex. When you start to see it as just sex, the sex will probably improve.

As for the 'spark.' Welcome to the two year mark. Don't look at it as a bad thing - look at it as you've achieved a certain comfort level with this person and the relationship is no longer about sex. Take this opportunity to explore your sexuality, be a little adventurous, do sexual things that might be a little out of your comfort zone when you're just starting to see someone.

we have so much affectionate love that anything lusty or exciting seems foreign

These are not mutually exclusive...at all. Try focusing this affectionate love into incredible cunnilingus, which you initiate. Think of it like this: I love my SO so much I want her to feel totally incredible. And then do it.

Sex in a LTR goes through flux. There are dry periods, you reignite, and there are periods of incredi-sex.

Finally, and I might get a little railed for this suggestion, but sometimes a couple drinks before sex can help with the inhibitions part and catalyze the I'm gonna bang your beautiful brains out thing. It should not get to the point that you don't have sex unless you're drunk, but in a lull sharing a bottle of wine and then going at it can be just the thing you need.

Good luck, and don't over-think this. You can read all you can, but sex is a primal thing, so plates of beans and such.
posted by Lutoslawski at 9:58 AM on March 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

Listen to & perhaps call in to the Save Love podcasts. Getting it all out in the open, so to speak, is a great way for dealing with feelings of inadequacy - of any kind. Listening to podcasts like this will help give you a real gauge for what is & what is not adequate or normal, and what is or is not a performance.
posted by MesoFilter at 10:04 AM on March 3, 2010

I dated a guy for three years and it was this exact same situation, except he could never quite articulate exactly why he didn't ever want to initiate sex. THe parts about feeling inadequate came after we had broken up. It really damaged my self esteem for a while because I internalized his sexual aversion and assumed it was a sexual rejection. Make sure your girlfriend knows how much you like her, how hot you think she is, that if anyone was to turn you on it would be her, etc.

This'll help her help you.

And you do enjoy sex once it gets going, right? So maybe you could initiate once in a while just so she wouldn't feel like it was all on her?

Therapy? Always a good option.
posted by whalebreath at 10:51 AM on March 3, 2010

watch less porno.
feelings of inadequacy come from watching too much porno.
posted by uauage at 12:34 PM on March 3, 2010

You feel that sex is presentational, but it really isn't, or at least doesn't have to be. The roles and stereotypes associated with sexuality are just a handy starting place, but ultimately a sexual experience can be whatever you want it to be.

First and foremost it sounds like you should pursue experiences which are extremely sensory and immediate, so that your conscious mind is kept distracted. Bond together over things that feel good. It's a lot easier to lose inhibitions and become sexual together in situations where you are already sharing some sort of pleasant sensation. Look into massage, bathing together, that sort of thing -- for their own sake. Let what happens happen; maybe things will turn sexual and maybe they won't, but either way you will have shared something physical together.
posted by hermitosis at 1:39 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you might be over thinking this a little. A drink or two- not too much, because that brings its own problems- before sex might help you relax and focus on how things feel, not on your 'performance'.
posted by MadamM at 2:28 PM on March 3, 2010

Maybe you need to rethink your idea of what sex is. You might enjoy it more if you don't feel pressured to orgasm or to help her achieve orgasm. Forget about penetrative sex and just initiate some casual naked play time with zero expectations.
posted by gumtree at 2:58 PM on March 3, 2010

I recommend The Erotic Mind. It's a very good book for exploring all sorts of sexual quirks and problems.
posted by sively at 3:57 PM on March 3, 2010

You're only nineteen. Repeat, only nineteen. You have no idea how many of us envy you!

First of all, it's OK to feel inadequate. Most of us do from time to time; it's not like the world is full of porn stars who live and breath perfect sex. Sex is just a form of expression. There is no "perfect" when it comes to you (or I or anyone else). There is just what works at the time.

Also, you don't want any DTMFA advice. Fine. I'm not suggesting that, I promise. But remember, you're only nineteen, so don't feel like you're at the end of your journey -- you're just starting -- and don't rule out moving on and getting it on with someone else. Yes, you love her. I wish you the best. Just don't assume that she will be "the one" for the rest of your life. So lower the stakes a little and just live. Stick with her, but don't stress -- there can always be others.

If your girlfriend is saying the spark is out of your relationship, she is unhappy and wants to move on. She's sugar-coating it for you. Don't be shocked if it ends abruptly. It is not the end of the world.

You are young. Play the field -- on your own terms. Stop worrying. Take risks. You will look back 10 years from now on yourself and laugh a little.

Again, you're nineteen!
posted by teedee2000 at 5:07 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you are OK once you get going, then realize that you don't have to be "in the mood" to start something. Your mind can decide that it is a good time to have sex, you can initiate and assuming that your partner responds enthusastically, your body will catch up. Let her know what helps get you going.

Also, I assume that you have talked with your gf about this but let her know how sexy she is, how much her body turns you on and how much you appreciate her helping you get aroused (this discussion is probably easiest just after you have finished having sex or even during.

Sometime out of the bedroom the two of you make a list of things to try. Have any props available in the bedroom and make a deal that you will each initiate adding one of the ideas to your sex play within the next x days/weeks. Not everythng will work - lots of fantasies are too awkward to be fun in real life.

A good exercise for you two is to pick a time when one person is do-er and the other is the do-ee. The do-er's job is give the do-ee a good time sexually (orgasm optional as long as the sex is satisfying to the do-ee. The do-ee can ask for whatever they want and the do-er will try to oblige (if you really object, just ask for the next suggestion) as well as any ideas of your own that you thing the do-ee might like. If something isn't working for the do-ee, don't complain, just suggest something else. Next time switch roles. When you are the do-er, don't worry about yourself, how you feel, how you are performing, just pay attention to all the little clues that she gives you about what she likes. When you are the do-ee, try to turn off your mind just focus on the sensations. You may find it hard to ask for anything specific in the beginning but as you pay more attention to your body (and your fantasies) the ideas will come.
posted by metahawk at 7:26 PM on March 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

you are 19...go date more girls.
posted by spacefire at 9:32 PM on March 3, 2010

What gumtree said. I get a hit from your writing that you are focused on your ladyfriend, and pleasing her. It's possible you would be helped if the two of you tried things that are more you-centric some of the time.
posted by troywestfield at 6:29 AM on March 4, 2010

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