Help me have sex with my girlfriend.
May 5, 2005 9:57 AM   Subscribe

Help me have sex with my girlfriend.

I'll try to be concise. I'm male. My girlfriend and I are both 20. She's had sex, I haven't. I've been with a few other girls, but not terribly many. We've been together for 6 months or so, and though we're regularly intimate in other ways, we haven't had sex together. When we try, I'm unable to maintain enough of an erection to perform. This is embarassing for me and it makes my girlfriend think I don't want her. I think a few things could be contributing to this.

1) We care about each other very much, but I didn't start dating her primarily based on physical attraction. I find my girlfriend attractive, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't often see girls to whom I'm more attracted, purely on a superficial level. I don't think this should preclude us from having sex, though.

2) I feel like my girlfriend seems to take a mostly passive role during foreplay, as if waiting for me to get ready. I've lightly broached the subject before, but nothing seems to have changed. Should I expect/ask her to do more, or should I be able to take care of myself? I don't want to make it sound like I don't want her, but I feel like it takes a little bit more sometimes.

3) I have something of a fetish which seems to fall under the heading of somnophilia. I've always found sleeping women to be erotic. This doesn't affect my everyday, non-sexual life. I get off on "regular" things, too, but this especially. I've tried fantasizing about it when I'm with her, but I can't concentrate on it and pay attention to her at the same time. I've never told anyone about this, and I feel terribly awkward and slightly ashamed about it. There's no shortage of web sites about it, so obviously I'm not the only one, but I can't help but feel embarassed. I feel very comfortable with my girlfriend, but I'm still not exactly sure how she'd react. Should I tell her about it? How do I tell her? Or should I wait until after we've had sex? Should I not let this aspect control my sex life?

4) I find condoms extremely uncomfortable. When I get an erection, I feel like the struggling to put it on and the feeling of wearing it puts a damper on things. I'd say that I'm on the larger side, and have found that regular-sized condoms seemed extremely tight and difficult to get on (though I only tried a few brands). I've since brought Trojan Magnum large-sized condoms, and while they fit, I find them uncomfortable as well. Will I just get used to it, or is there something else I should try?

I apologize for the length. I appreciate any advice that anyone can offer, related or unrelated to the above issues.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total)

This is a "talk to a doctor who may very well refer you to a therapist" type of issue. Even if you find a workaround, it shouldn't be like this. A 20-year-old may well have trouble once in a while with getting the condom on or occasionally not be into it enough to get busy.

But six months of disappointment strongly suggests that you need to get checked out.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:11 AM on May 5, 2005

Yup, it's definitely doctorsville for you.
posted by mischief at 10:14 AM on May 5, 2005

4) I find condoms extremely uncomfortable. When I get an erection, I feel like the struggling to put it on and the feeling of wearing it puts a damper on things. I'd say that I'm on the larger side, and have found that regular-sized condoms seemed extremely tight and difficult to get on (though I only tried a few brands). I've since brought Trojan Magnum large-sized condoms, and while they fit, I find them uncomfortable as well. Will I just get used to it, or is there something else I should try?

Have you tried masturbating (alone) with a condom on? If you haven't, get crackin'. Cause, yeah, you have to get used to them. Sorry.
posted by tristeza at 10:15 AM on May 5, 2005

If you are not comfortable enough with your girlfriend to tell her what gets you off, you are not ready to have sex with her. Good, normal sex requires communication between the parties involved.

In regard to #3 -- see a doctor. If something is a turn-on for you, you shouldn't feel shame about it (unless it involves killing someone or something).
posted by suchatreat at 10:30 AM on May 5, 2005

Move into it slowly, and don't just think of anything short of genital sex as "not really sex." If you masturbate successfully, then performance anxiety is probably the cause of your erection difficulties. And the more you fixate on sticking your penis into her vagina, the more that will be the case.

If she is really that passive, that pretty much leaves only vaginal intercourse as your end-point. If you care about eachother, approach sex in the spirit of play. Use hand and mouth and humor and imagination--have some fun together ! Vaginal intercourse will come when you're both comfortable and ready for it, and not under pressure. Try not to define sex play only as stuff that will eventually make you squirt.

As for your "fetish" (your compulsion doesn't sound strong enough to really count as a fetish, but maybe just a quirk), I wouldn't worry about it now, or even bring it up until you and your girlfriend have established a completely comfortable and playful sex life together. I suspect that this "fantasy" is just an artifact of your lack of experience; and that it is a metaphorical way of staying completely in control. In any case, don't worry about this now: if the notion of somnophilia remains intriguing to you, see if you two can work it into your sex play. These things often lose their grip on you after a while.

Lastly, regarding the condoms, let me be brutal: boo hoo. Guys always prefer some other method of birth control, but between sex-using-a-condom and no-sex, we tend to pick the former. If your girlfriend is willing to take the pill, or an implant, or an IUD, you can do that. Diaphragms kind of work, but be clear between the two of you how you each feel about parenthood and abortion, first. The contracteptive sponge is back on the market, but I've never used one, and don't really know anything about its efficacy.

Anyway, have no fear: your questions, anxieties and problems are completely within the big fat part of the bell curve. They will all sort themselves out with experience--if you can just adopt an attitude of playfulness and patience, the coming months will be a time that you will remember for the rest of your life with intensity and affection.

Just don't cut any corners on that birth control thing...
posted by curtm at 10:32 AM on May 5, 2005

We have these shitty social expectations in hetero relationships that if you can't get hard on command there's something wrong with you as a man, and that if you can't get a man hard by showing your naked body there's something wrong with you as a woman. It's just not true.

You are not alone.There are a lot of men with your issues, including many in their 20s. Some of them are my friends, or are dating my friends.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to do something to improve your situation. I think I'd get non-fetish sex figured out before you introduce your fetish. A doctor should be able to help.

Good luck.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:35 AM on May 5, 2005

If you haven't had sex I think it's safe to say that a condom is going to be uncomfortable. It's new, everything is new, so I would say it's all going to be uncomfortable. I don't agree that this is an issue that you need a therapist for. I do agree that you should practice masturbating with a condom.

A comment on #3, which I may not be familiar with, but I feel like before one has ever has sex, wouldn't sleeping next to someone you may be attracted to, with the prospect of doing more, wouldn't that tension always be erotic? Like the beginning of a relationship where the boundaries are unknown so everything has the feeling of trespassing. I mean I feel like I can really relate to that feeling, but I wouldn't think of it as a fetish. Which leads me to think that you do need to relax about this whole thing. Take some basic steps like masturbating with a condom on, and don't freak yourself out. Try to find out what is natural to you, and there should be enough trust between the person you are with and yourself that you can exercise what you need in order to be intimate, in order to have a full sexual experience.

I think your girlfriend has some responsibilities. I also think that it is important that she want to do more to pleasure you, that it feels natural to her, or she will feel she is doing something against her will. In addition, if you are not that attracted to her, that is another obstacle. It seems like there is a lack of attraction, heat, desire, from both ends.

If I were in this relationship, I would recognize that the timing isn't right. That I needed to find a relationship where the desire is coming equally from both sides, that we're coming from the same place, which is the only way I can think of making sex work, and life work.
posted by scazza at 10:41 AM on May 5, 2005

Don't talk about the sleeping woman fetish until you're well into the relationship, and this is not that point. Have you tried different condoms, like the Kimono? Slate has a review of a bunch of them. You have to practice, practice, practice until you can do it in the dark, with one hand, without losing steam. Buy a whole bunch of different packs, and try them all, several times. The awkwardness of them, and the ohmigodamIdoingthisright feeling is enough to put a dent in anyone's new sex plans. This is not an out for you: figure out how to incorporate them, which means find the brand, style and method that works for you personally. This does not mean try a new thing out, or put on the condom for the 4th time while she's watching you and you're fumbling. Get it down so that it's second nature.

I've said it here before and I'll say it again: get thee a copy of The Guide to Getting it On! Read it through yourself, read it with your girlfriend, and talk about it WHEN you're not having sex. Just because she's had sex before doesn't mean that she's totally knowledgeable about all things naked, and every new partner requires figuring it out in a different way. Read the book together, talk about what you want, and practice with the condoms. I don't know what "broached the subject lightly" means, but it's likely that she's just as clueless about this as you are. Repeat, until you're both comfortable with what's going on. Are you sure you actually want to have sex, or do you just think that's what you should be doing at this stage?

Unless you're having doubts about the relationship, finding someone else attractive is not the problem here.
posted by fionab at 10:42 AM on May 5, 2005

1. this is normal, though if you get to the point where you're not really sexually interested in your girlfriend at all, move on, or at least make sure that she and you have the same expectations from the relationship.

2. her passive role may have something to do with your difficulty with an erection, but sex is totally complicated so there could be many other factors. However, if you guys enjoy sexual activity generally, it's appropriate for you to say "hey I really like it when you...." it's always okay for you to ask for more and it's also okay for her to say no. If you reach an impasse, that's a different problem. Some women can approach sex as if it's just the in-and-out thing and think it's their job to basically let you do that. However, it's pretty easy if you are a willing partner to show her this is not the case. Make sure your girlfriuend is having her needs met, having orgasms, is generally happy with sex as well. If she sees that sex is a lot more than just dick-in-pussy action that doesn't get her off, she may become a much more willing participant. Inexperienced sexual parters may not know what the range of good stuff is that all counts as sex, feel free to help show her.

3. Your fetish/quirk is fine but unless you can't get off without it, I'd save it til a little later in the relationship if it's truly not central to your libido. Also, and this may go without saying, if you and your girlfriend sleep in the same bed and she wakes up to you masturbating beside her, she may be a bit perplexed and this could add to the "he doesn't want me, he has to wait for me to fall asleep" problem. Be prepared to explain it to her if such a situaiton should arise. Don't be embarassed about it, but you might need to shop around for partners eventually if this is really a crucial part to your sexuality.

4. You may need to see a doctor, but you may just be new at this. Lube is your friend, both a little inside the condom as well as some outside if your g'friend desires. Also, sexplay without penetration can often be accomplished without condoms. Be careful about the jizz splashing and be aware of STD risks, but you can masturbate each other, have oral sex or even anal sex without making babies.

I know it seems, at your age, that penetration = sex, especially if you haven't done it yet, but the world of sex is varied, interesting and most of all, fun. You have a long sex life ahead of you, so while this may seem frustrating and annoying, learning about your likes and dislikes as well as those of your partner is a worthwhile investment. Good luck.
posted by jessamyn at 10:56 AM on May 5, 2005

Good, normal sex requires communication between the parties involved.

So does nasty, abnormal sex.
posted by matildaben at 11:00 AM on May 5, 2005 [1 favorite]

Who keeps suggesting doctors? He's simply not comfortable.. Anxiety/doubt does terrible things to erections, and condoms suck.

Main thing is to relax, and focus on play rather than achievement. Let it happen. Be confident.
posted by eas98 at 11:25 AM on May 5, 2005

Your dick is telling you something, and you're not listening.

Your dick (=you) might not want to have sex at all at this time, or might not want to have sex with this woman at all. This could be for many different reasons, but really, rather than trying to find some way to get that darn dick hard enough to "perform," try to be honest with yourself about why some important part of you doesn't want to have sex with this person. You might realize that having sex with her will change your friendship in ways that you don't want to have happen. Since this is your first time, you might be worried about what it'll be like, or that she'll be comparing you with other guys. You might be angry at her for something, whatever - only you can ask the question and know the answer.

This kind of stuff can drive men crazy, but it doesn't have to. If you find out what your hesitation is and do decide that you want to go for it with this girl, take it slow and communicate at every step of the way! Sex as performance is cold, impersonal, technical and macho. Sex as expression of desire, intimacy, lust, is hot, passionate, and much better.
posted by jasper411 at 11:27 AM on May 5, 2005

1) The man whose girlfriend is the most attractive person in the world to him is very lucky indeed. As long as you don't find her repulsive, you're fine.

2) Can you masturbate yourself while you play with her? Do you ever get a good erection while fooling around? Take your time. If you're anything like me, you're probably pretty nervous, and finding a way to relax will help immensely. I know you're eager, but don't think of intercourse as a goal; it's just another fun thing you can do. I tend to spend more time fingering my girlfriend than actually fucking her.

3) This is probably completely irrelevant. We all have our fetishes, but we shouldn't be slaves to them. Put it out of your head for now. Fucking a pretty girl is exciting enough.

4) Custom-sized condoms. These things are awesome. If you're uncircumcised, you might want to get the longest one for your girth -- see my condom thread.

If all else fails, some recreational drug use may be in order until there's less performance anxiety. You don't need to tell her about it.
posted by trevyn at 11:31 AM on May 5, 2005

I completely agree with eas98. I don't think there is any reason to worry this already worried young man into thinking he needs to see a doctor or therapist! This all sounds incredibly normal, at least to me. I know plenty of people who have had these types of problems at the beginning of their sexual experience, both male and female. Just try to relax, don't be afraid to be blunt about things with your girlfriend--and the point that someone made about not really being ready but maybe thinking that it's what you're supposed to be doing at this stage is right on--if you're not ready, it's no big deal. Wait until you are.

I don't think you need to tell her about your fetish, especially at this stage, if it's just one thing among many that gets you excited. And about the condoms--everyone is right on--masturbate while wearing one. If they are that uncomfortable, you need one that's bigger, or more lube.
posted by fabesfaves at 11:36 AM on May 5, 2005

My very first boyfriend, back in the day, had the same thing going on. And I had had sex, while he hadn't. My advice, fwiw,
1. This is normal, don't stress
2. Take the idea of having sex off the table for a little bit. Practice different ways of getting each other off. Hell, lie in bed naked together and just feel each other up.
3. Try making it all about her. Get lost in her, forget about yourself, and you may just find something good happening with your penis.
4. Lots and lots of oral sex. Maybe get her to suck your dick while you've got a (flavored) condom on. (although the ones I've used at least tend to run to the small size). This will get you used to staying hard with one on, and it's more subtle than masturbating with one on.
5. This is normal, don't stress.
posted by gaspode at 11:40 AM on May 5, 2005

This is the user who posted the question. I just created this account so I could reply to this thread.

First, thanks a lot for all of the responses. I really appreciate it. Let me clarify a few things, though...

I usually start out by doing things to her, and while it makes me feel good to please her, it doesn't really make me hard.

I usually get an erection at various points during foreplay, but lose it during the condom business or when I get on top of her. It certainly seems anxiety-related; especially now that it's happened before, each time I fear that it'll happen again, and so I almost find myself wanting to avoid the whole thing to save myself the embarassment.

We've had lots and lots of oral sex, but not with a condom on. That seems like it might be a good idea. I have no problem getting an erection when I'm getting a blowjob, and tend to finish in anywhere from 5-20 minutes. Getting a blow job seems more like the equivalent of jerking off to me, though; I can just sit back and relax and not have to do anything.

It seems like I need to get myself more comfortable with condoms and learn to relax more when it comes to intercourse. Thanks again for the thoughtful replies.
posted by 1984 at 11:54 AM on May 5, 2005

Based on that - she can be on top of you, boyo, and then you still don't have to do anything.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:25 PM on May 5, 2005

Wow. Lots and lots of good advice in this thread. Here's just one more shout out for a little lube in the condom - completely changed my experience with them. You might also have her put it on you. That can be a turn-on by itself. And, if you try oral with the condom on as suggested, it can be a pretty quick move to vaginal insertion with the condom on. Lube might be your friend at this point to (damn - lube's just always your friend, actually). A condom-coated dick meeting an inadequately wet vagina is a pretty good recipe for flaccidity.

On re-reading your last comment - you usually lose your erection when you get on top of her? Why not have her get on top of you? Then you can still "sit back and relax." Not to mention, some (many?) women prefer doing it cowgirl.

On preview: oops, too slow.
posted by leecifer at 12:32 PM on May 5, 2005

Also, some guys don't have as much sensation in certain positions, depending on how both of you are shaped. You on top, her on bottom doesn't always feel best for *either* of you, so mix it up! Try different positions, such as her on top, legs over shoulders, sideways, etc. This is where the book I recommended above can come in handy as a starting off point!
posted by fionab at 12:43 PM on May 5, 2005

I suggested before that she be on top, but she didn't seem to like that idea. As I alluded to in the original post, she seems to have a "just lay there" sort of approach, and being the lesser experienced of the two of us, I haven't brought it up again. Maybe I'll talk about it with her some more. Thanks.
posted by 1984 at 12:49 PM on May 5, 2005

I'd just like to second two pieces of advice:

1) a little lube in the condom makes a world of difference. I tried a LOT of different condoms before I learned this trick.

2) The Guide To Getting It On! is a legitimately good sex book, and it's smart enough to recognize that sex isn't just a penis going into a vagina.
posted by mosch at 12:53 PM on May 5, 2005

You might try some of the condoms that are made to fit loose on the end. They work great (trojans twisted pleasure is the only one I can think of off hand, but Durex makes one too, google around some), do like others have said and add some lube to the inside. Also, unwrap the damn thing before foreplay (maybe even unroll it a bit and add the lube), this can take precious seconds off the clock for condomizing your thing. I suspect your problems are anxeity related, once you are successful this will quickly pass. Does your girlfriend know it's your first time? Maybe you should tell her you think that this is just a hump that you need to get over (what a pun!) and just work hard on it till it happens. Maybe this will give you the leeway to try some other measures. I'm thinking porno, you should be able to find some stuff that will be acceptable (or at least not a big turn off for her). She could masturbate you and help you get the condom on while watching, then click it off with the remote and go to it. The trick will be convincing her that it's not an insult to her.
posted by 445supermag at 1:12 PM on May 5, 2005

It sounds like you just have to get her to play with your wiener some more. This stuff is normal, it sounds like you're overanalyzing it.

Focus on foreplay and having a good time rather than sticking it in her vagina. Intercouse will happen when you're both ready.
posted by sid at 1:56 PM on May 5, 2005

Have you tried assaulting her in her sleep?
posted by jonson at 2:33 PM on May 5, 2005

If it weren't for the fact that her "just lay there approach" might fit nicely with your somnophilia (though I guess it must not, considering your question as a whole), I'd say that's part of the problem.

Maybe I'd even consider saying that not willing to experiment/play outside of "just laying there" is as unfair to you as you saying you're only interested if she's asleep would be unfair to her. You say she's had sex before, but is she comfortable with sex?

You should definitely talk to her about it.. My guess would be that you're both nervous, that she's more nervous about sex than you think.

The goal, I think, should be for sex (not just intercourse) to feel like communication and play. Intercourse doesn't even have to be a big deal. Try pretending you're lesbians.
posted by nobody at 2:57 PM on May 5, 2005

I second/third/fourth the lube in the condom thing. Sometimes it works a little *too* well so we have to do without it. The BF has the same problem you do and we've worked around it through the following ways:

1. Have her give you oral until it's good and firm. Firm as in, 5 seconds from ejaculation firm.

2. Put on the condom (with the lube already inside a bit)

3. Put more lube on the outside. (We found that even condoms that were marked "lubricated" on the package still weren't lubricated enough. Putting more lube on the outside kind of cuts down on the fumbling-around-trying to get it in time)

4. Start off with her on top. This might be easier to get things going and get you hard again if you start softening up.

Hope that helps! Sometimes, if that doesn't work, the bf just gets himself hard again (while still wearing the condom) and we try again.

Just another two cents, it sounds like intercourse is a stressful situation for you and it shouldn't be. Maybe talking to each other about it and laughing it off could lighten the mood?
posted by nakedsushi at 2:59 PM on May 5, 2005

Most everyone has made good comments. I would add just a couple things:

a) I don't think it's doctor/therapist time yet, unless you're so panicked about this that you're at your wit's end. (I'm a doctor.) To the contrary, this sort of nervous fumbling around is what young people are normally supposed to do. Gives you something to look back on and laugh about twenty years later.

b) You should probably stop thinking of your girlfriend as more experienced than you. A really experienced woman would have found clever and original ways to deal with these issues already, I think. It sounds to me like you are both pretty naive sexually. There's really nothing wrong with that, as long as you understand that your first couple of tries would probably not make a Vivid Video greatest hits tape.

c) In fact, good sex wouldn't make a Vivid Video tape at all. Those tapes show something that is completely different from really good, enjoyable sex. So if you've ever seen any of that stuff, forget about it.

d) Condoms are a necessary but not fun part of the experience. Lube can help - I like K-Y or Astroglide. Fiddling around alone with a condom until you know exactly what to expect from it can also help.

e) You're not allowed to have, or think you have, a fetish yet. Do some experimenting around with vanilla before you decide that chocolate mint fudge banana ripple swirl is your favorite.

f) Simultaneous mutual pleasure shouldn't be your goal at the moment. Try to get the technical details ironed out first. Explain to your girlfriend that if you're going to have sex with her, the first time is going to have to be all about your pleasure, because you're nervous. That's totally OK, especially because it sounds like you take care of her needs in other ways, at other times.

g) Show her this thread. There's a lot of good information here.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:15 PM on May 5, 2005

I didn't read every single word of this thread, so I might have missed it, but...

Condoms don't work very well if you have trouble staying hard. If your erection goes up and down once or twice the condom will start to slip and you will start stretching rubber, which feels terrible!

Condoms aren't that bad otherwise. Not that great either of course...

It isn't surprising that you feel anxiety about it, and the one thing that will make you go limp faster than anything is anxiety. The solution is taking time, and playing around a lot.

She has to take a very active roll if it is going to work. That doesn't mean she has to do any specific thing, what she does is up to her. But if she is totally passive she isn't going to get any, so...
posted by Chuckles at 4:21 PM on May 5, 2005

First of all, you're not alone.

I have been very satisfied with my sex life over the years, have had several really good sexual connections with people (and some not so great) and tried lots of things and had lots of fun. And I am still plagued from time to time with dick issues. It happens.

In particular, it seems to happen more often with me when I'm entering into a new sexual relationship. The first few times are always awkward if not dismal failures. I've learned to cope with this over the years, mainly because eventually the situation improves and I'm able to redeem myself.

Here's what has helped me:

1) Be straight about it. Explain to her how you feel. Ask for her patience. Tell her if you're frustrated. Tell her if you're nervous. If she's understanding and doesn't freak out, blame you, blame herself, start crying, blah blah blah, then you may find that you simply relax into it at some point and all is well. This is your first time. I don't doubt you have some jitters.

2) Tell her what you want her to do. If you're not turned on, this isn't going to work. And try different things. If intercourse keeps on being a frustrating enterprise, then back off from it for a while and go for other things. Go oral, go manual. Masturbate for each other. Once you establish that you can have fun without intercourse, a lot of the pressure will come off your shoulders. Pressure is not good.

3) Try the cock pills. If you absolutely, positively want to make sure you have zero issues with your erection, then try the cock pills. I don't mind admitting that I've gotten some samples and used them in situations where I've had trouble in the past. They're amazing. Not only can they save the day, they may turn you into a fucking Superman. Once you've fucked her silly a few times, you may find that your psychological outlook is different. You may never need them again.

See a doctor though. They can help. You may have a hormonal imbalance or another undetected health issue which is affecting your performance. Lots of things can affect it. Don't smoke, for one thing. Don't drink, for another. Cardiovascular exericise increases circulation, which is crucial to good deep dicking.
posted by scarabic at 4:37 PM on May 5, 2005

As for #1 - I think you have a fair and reasonable point of view about it. Keep trying. Since you have no frame of reference, there's no way for you to know if this is about your level of attraction to her.

But then again, with someone else more physically attractive, who did all kinds of delicious things to you instead of just laying there, you might find your soldier at attention and ready for duty in no time.

Keep trying. Eventually, though, in every relationship you have to be realistic about whether your needs are met. Don't be noble about it forever. You're human.
posted by scarabic at 4:40 PM on May 5, 2005

Someone else suggested having her put the condom on you. That sounds like a good idea. Do things with/to each other until you're (ideally both) aroused, then have her put it on. You can think about arousal instead of the fiddly distraction of dealing with the condom.

You mention she's had (penis-in-vagina style) sex before. But was it good sex? Did she like it? Maybe she's uncomfortable with something. Maybe she thinks of sex as a chore. Maybe she wants something but is afraid to ask for it. Maybe she hasn't found out what she really likes yet. Try to get her to talk about what she likes about sex, or what she's maybe kind of a little interested in (maybe when you're not actually in bed together, so it's less threatening). If you can get her to be more experimentative, less passive, then that'll be good for you too. Definitely try positions other than missionary.

Try not to focus on the "insert and squirt" aspect of sex, it'll just strengthen the performance anxiety feedback loop. Focus on having a good time in bed. As others have mentioned, you're well within the range of normality here, things will come in time (so to speak).

And maybe you guys are a good match emotionally but just aren't sexually compatible. Sad, but it happens. Try to retain the intimate friendship (maybe you can probably you can't) but move on and find another sexual partner. But IMHO it's too soon to give up yet.
posted by hattifattener at 5:01 PM on May 5, 2005

I don't think there is any reason to worry this already worried young man into thinking he needs to see a doctor or therapist!

Sorry to keep chiming in here but what, again, is wrong with suggesting one see a doctor? Don't y'all see your doctors regularly anyway? They're helpful. Don't fear them. I'm surprised that several people here are encouraging someone to be anti-doctor and put off going - for no good reason. When someone says "see your doctor" don't treat them like chicken little. Smart people get as much as they can out of their docs. Stupid people stigmatize and avoid them.
posted by scarabic at 5:35 PM on May 5, 2005

Good thread. Just seconding (more like tenth-ing) the notion that all of this is normal and anxiety related.

The key, as far as I've figured, is in switching your mindset from a performance-centered sort of thing to just enjoying the experience, and *knowing* that whatever happens will be fun anyway. If you can convince yourself that all of this is fine and that you can enjoy yourself anyway, then you won't have anymore problems.
posted by sirion at 5:37 PM on May 5, 2005

These answers feel like they're worth at least $10. You all need to stop being helpful or I'll have to go register another account or something. But really, thanks everyone.
posted by 1984 at 8:37 PM on May 5, 2005

scarabic, you are the male version of jessamyn. You guys should have an advice column called, Dear Green...!
posted by barnone at 9:39 PM on May 5, 2005

high praise, thank you
posted by scarabic at 10:01 PM on May 5, 2005

Don't talk about the sleeping woman fetish until you're well into the relationship.

No. No. No. Uh uh. Not. And No.

Sorry guys, but I've lived in the fetish (or, to use the terminology with which I'm comfortable, kink) closet and it's a damned uncomfortable place to be.

First, I should say that what you're describing sounds to me like an actual kink; that is, a pretty much permanent part of your sexual nature as opposed to simply a symptom of some problem or a passing fancy or whatever. Pretending it isn't there or hiding it from your girlfriend is going to make you and your relationship that much more tense which will, in turn, make sexual performance that much more difficult.

And beside that, living in the closet just sucks ass. No one does it unless they (a) absolutely have to or (b) are too scared to come out. The second impediment, of course, can be remedied in time.

If I dated a woman for six months and didn't tell her I was a (bdsm) switch, I'd feel like a complete and total slimeball. And rightly so.

I was recently in a relationship that was mostly non-bdsm. This was frustrating for me and the cause of our break up. But one thing that did help me during sex was focusing not on my own enjoyment, but on the enjoyment of my partner. I found that making her happy was very fulfilling.
posted by Clay201 at 2:48 AM on May 6, 2005

Oh, and regarding the "see a doctor" advice....

If I were having a problem achieving an erection when I would normally expect to be able to, I absolutely would see a doctor. But if I were experiencing a conflict between my kinky nature and my vanilla relationship, then a doctor is, quite frankly, about the last person I'd talk to. They can range from simply inexperienced in this area all the way to downright hostile.
posted by Clay201 at 2:53 AM on May 6, 2005

Ditto eas98 and scarabic. You are most likely just tense, a little nervous, slightly wound-up, feeling some pressure to perform because you don't know whether you are going to be "good" at it or not, and your body is manifesting this physically.

I also had the same thing in my first few years of sexual activity - pretty much exactly as you describe. Before I was truly confident of my status as a herculean lovegod, I would consistently get first-night nerves (and sometimes first-month nerves in the case of partners that developed into relationships), and have tremendous problems keeping an erection. I continue to have problems with condoms to this day - specifically wrestling the buggers on without totally killing the mood (but thankfully I'm happily married and actively procreating, so it doesn't really matter).

The good news is that you'll get over it in time. It would truly suck if you were asking this problem on the back of string of embarrassing, failed one-night stands, but you have a girlfriend who is prepared to come back for multiple tries, and who has already gone some of the way to alleviating the awkward-factor of discussing it. You're half-way there! Really, all you need to do is to feel truly comfortable with her. Talking about the problem with her, possibly in a light-hearted or self-deprecating way, is the best way to go about it. Just get it off your chest - she'll probably be relieved that it isn't a problem with her, or a physical problem with you, and might even treat it is a challenge and work extra-hard on making you happy (my wife did, eventually succeeding after 2 or 3 weeks on the back seat of a ford escort, parked by the side of the road...)

Seriously dude, don't let it stress you out too much, 99% it's just anxiety and you will get there in the end. Take the pressure off yourself any way you can, and things will be cool. You really don't need to see a doctor, physical or otherwise, unless you still have this problem over a sustained period of time with multiple partners. I can't imagine that being medically or psychologically treated for a "dysfunction" is really going to make you feel less anxious.
posted by bifter at 4:52 AM on May 6, 2005

I'm not anti-doctor, but there are some things you can try over the counter. DHEA-25 and vitamin E. I can't even take the DHEA anymore because of the (sometimes advantageous) side effects. It doesn't work for everyone, but it is easy to try.
posted by bh at 8:20 AM on May 6, 2005

For what it's worth, I don't think doctors are necessarily going to be the best resource in this area.

I myself have slept with several doctors who were extraordinarily bad lays.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:54 AM on May 7, 2005

I think the word "fetish" is a little strong for the sleeping-woman thing.

If you think about what's attractive about sleeping women for a second, there's not much to it. When she's asleep she's passive, placid, and you can explore and enjoy her body at your own pace without her even so much as looking at you (much less pressuring you to satisfy her). When you're timid and inexperienced this is quite appealing. You're turned on by women but have no experience and want to explore, kick the tires as it were (forgive me for that, ladies). A real live woman who's aroused can be quite a handful, and it takes confidence to tear into a gloriously bucking body and tame its passions. Especially if your girlfriend is hitting you with "what's the matter? aren't you attracted to me?" guilt trips, I can see the appeal in having the freedom to range over her body while she's completely quiet and passive. If you're fearful of not satisfying her, I can see the appeal of having your way with her when she's completely konked out and not expecting to be satisfied.

I think it's a pretty simple constituency of normal desires in this particular context, not necessarily a big "fetish." Obviously, at some point you have to grow out of the desire to play with women as passive objects. They are passionate and they do have needs and you can't expect to enjoy their bodies with impunity. But at first I can see how this would appeal.

Maybe you should try asking your girlfriend to sleep naked next to you, and then getting naughty with her in the middle of the night. Trust me, both men and women can engage in intercourse and orgasm without waking up. And even if they do technically wake up, sometimes it's nice to just complete the act lazily, with eyes shut, and then slip immediately back to sleep. It might really satisfy your "fetish." And even if it isn't quite what your "fetish" demands, you might like it anyway. I certainly do.

As you gain experience you'll find that you like certain things more than others. Not all of those are "fetishes." I'm not sure where you draw the line and just call it a "preference," but don't feel peculiar or shy about liking something in particular. Ask for what you want. Ask her what she wants. It's a simple choice: you can coddle your shyness, or you can get sexed just the way you like. No brainer!
posted by scarabic at 1:03 AM on May 8, 2005

Do not be embarrassed. That "fetish", if you could even call it that, doesn't look scary or weird... at all! You are 20, i'm 21. Dude, your kink think is not weird. True fetishes require to be there in order to reach climax. You have a difference in vanilla sexual programming if you will. You prefer to drive a Corvette, but most days your going to work in a delorean. So what?

Other people know much more than me about this, but since I am in the middle of Psych 232 I can advise you anxiety is detrimental to sex. Do you see a problem drinking one or two mixed drinks?
posted by Dean Keaton at 1:07 AM on May 9, 2005

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