How do I get my mojo back?
September 27, 2011 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Diminished sexual confidence with girlfriend, stuck in a Catch-22 now, how do I get my mojo back?

For a couple of months now I have felt like I have been stuck in a Catch-22 where having less confidence has made it difficult for me to initiate intimacy and be successful in bed with my girlfriend, and being reluctant to initiate and being less successful in bed has diminished my confidence and is stifling my growth. My girlfriend is understanding and is trying to be patient, but she just wants me to man up so we can move on.

We had fantastic sex for the first six months of our relationship. A few months ago, we had a few arguments and fights and these were soon followed by a couple of bad sex experiences. Since then, our experience in bed has rarely been great and when it was great, for some reason it felt like a fluke. Before, my girlfriend, being more sexually experienced and kinky than I, was the main initiator and orchestrator of our sex. Now that find myself without my mojo, my girlfriend does not want to initiate because she finds my fragile and hesitant demeanor to be unattractive and uninspiring. I was hoping she might do me a favor and provide extra encouragement or cheerleading to help me through this. At one point I even asked if she could do this. But she does not want to and feels that I am on my own; apparently I must take action and fix the situation myself.

My theory is that I should fake confidence and try to maneuver myself back into the zone. So far this strategy has been met with limited success, but it may just take time and, perhaps, luck. I believe I just need to be persistent and that eventually the strategy will work, but I'm not sure.

Are there other strategies that I should consider? Should I consider asking her for more encouragement and initiation again? Does it sound like we need to see a sex counselor or can I/we fix this on our own? How can I/we break this cycle for good? Throwaway email: troubleineugene at gmail dot com.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (23 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Go off on a romantic vacation.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:21 PM on September 27, 2011

Would she be down with you tying her up and/or dominating her? Would you be down with that? The upside being it doesn't have to be all about the PIV sexy sex, if you're having issues in that area. (Definitely have a meeting of the minds first, obviously.)

But yeah, fake it till you make it is a pretty good motto in sex and almost all other pursuits (though not dentistry).

This will pass.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:30 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

If she's not willing to help you through it then that is a red flag - not being able to rely on your partner for support when you are in a vulnerable state is just not a well-functioning relationship.

I would suggest that it is her with the problem here as much if not more so than you - couples' counseling could be beneficial, but consider whether it may be that, sadly, post-honeymoon period she is not the person you will want to stay with.

Postscript: if this turns out to be the case, do not carry this sexual insecurity with you. This is NOT a problem with you, it is a problem with your relationship, with this one person.
posted by greenish at 2:32 PM on September 27, 2011 [18 favorites]

my girlfriend does not want to initiate because she finds my fragile and hesitant demeanor to be unattractive and uninspiring. I was hoping she might do me a favor and provide extra encouragement or cheerleading to help me through this. At one point I even asked if she could do this. But she does not want to and feels that I am on my own; apparently I must take action and fix the situation myself.

This is a huge red flag to me. This is not the behavior of a supportive partner. My partner and I went through something similar and the cheerleading and the knowledge that I was happy with whatever sex we had was what he said made it easiest for him to not stress it.
posted by Zophi at 2:41 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

If she's not willing to help you through it then that is a red flag - not being able to rely on your partner for support when you are in a vulnerable state is just not a well-functioning relationship.

Pretty much this. I mean, all (or at least most) go through sexual funks, but if she isn't willing to communicate with you about your sexual hang-ups and unwilling to help, then you have more than a sex issue - you have a girlfriend issue.

Normally when people get into insecure sexual zones, my honest to god recommendation is a night in and a shared bottle of Cabernet, don't want to treat your communication and support issues by ameliorating just a symptom.

You need to talk to her and see if she's willing to work with you on this. If she isn't, sadly, my advice is probably to leave her.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:41 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

A sexual issue isn't a problem that one person has, it's a problem the relationship has. It's something you work on together. Especially if one of the folks involved is feeling fragile. So her attitude is, "give me a call when it's fixed"? Wow, that's brutal.

This is a really bad sign. It doesn't sound like she's a partner to you in any sense of the word.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 2:56 PM on September 27, 2011 [11 favorites]

I was in a situation very similar to this. As the girlfriend, I found that even when I DID encourage my boyfriend and support him (without his asking), it didn't help and he ended up feeling worse and more ashamed of himself because he felt like I was "telling him what he wanted to hear" and holding some kind of inner resentment. Even thought I totally wasn't! But I eventually found out that these problems had little to do with me and there was not much I could do. This is why I disagree with everyone saying your GF's reaction is a red flag.

My boyfriend ended up quitting smoking, starting drinking less beer and started working out regularly. This not only completely fixed the sex problem but improved our overall relationship greatly because he's 110% more confident in himself. I am very proud of him, but these were all things he did on his own. Sure I encouraged him to keep going with the exercising, supported him, etc but overall it was his own choice to change his mindset. There's nothing that I could have REALLY done to help him out with his own confidence issues.

Just my experience, ymmv. But good luck to you and I hope you can figure it out.
posted by ad4pt at 3:00 PM on September 27, 2011 [13 favorites]

If she's not willing to help you through it then that is a red flag - not being able to rely on your partner for support when you are in a vulnerable state is just not a well-functioning relationship.

God yes. You aren't in a good spot. She's not helping.

More on the arguments may also help. I suspect that knowing that will tell us what we need to know to advise you.

Also, your relationship, open? monogamous? Other info we need to know?
posted by Ironmouth at 3:12 PM on September 27, 2011

Sounds to me like you can't have sex with your girlfriend because you don't feel safe with her. And it's no wonder you don't; she sounds like a real jerk.

Honestly? This relationship is less than a year old? I think you should tell her frankly, in no uncertain terms, that her lack of support is a deal-breaker and break up with her. She's being incredible clueless and selfish and you don't have to put up with it.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 3:29 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Maybe you need some viagra to help you fake it until you make it? Your doctor can help with that.

I think she might dump you soon though, her not wanting to help seems like a very bad sign. I think most people are up for helping those they love even when it doesn't really make a difference, while inside they are thinking "Bleh, Meh, Why me? Maybe I should have been a nun/monk! Stupid car/dog outside that just ruined it, That was hilarious but I don't dare giggle, FML, chocolate/beer > sex in this case, etc." The point being that most people would not be so cruel, cold or impatient as to give up and tell you to man up even in the most dismal of circumstances. She sounds like she just doesn't care.
posted by meepmeow at 3:39 PM on September 27, 2011

I think that some people are being a little hard on the girlfriend here. Yes, obviously, there are some relationship kinks to work out, but having been in a similar, um, position to your girlfriend, I know how frustrating it is. It's easy to just check out and hope that the boyfriend sorts himself out. You may be feeling low in confidence, but -- despite her sexual bravado -- she may be feeling just as unconfident, because she can't fix the problem and no matter how many times you tell her "it's not that I'm not attracted you, it's just my mojo acting up!", there will always be a tiny voice in her head telling her that she is unattractive, undesirable, etc.

That doesn't excuse her aloofness, but cut her some slack. Have a frank discussion and try to make small improvements to both your relationship and your own life. Tell her that you're hurt that she's not being more helpful, but give her a chance to explain herself more clearly. And, whatever you do, don't discuss it anywhere near the bedroom.
posted by Mrs. Rattery at 3:40 PM on September 27, 2011 [12 favorites]

If you frankly asked gf for help, and her reply was that she is not in inclined to help, I'm joining in the pile-on.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:07 PM on September 27, 2011 [3 favorites]

I think there's something in the point that many are making about this being a problem in the relationship more than a problem in you. I don't think I know enough about the situation to say super specifically what that relationship problem is, but I think there's a good chance that it's not just your fault or your girlfriend's fault--that both of you are contributing to the situation. (That said, I do think it's worth it to do a gut check with yourself to see if you feel like she has given up on the relationship in general--and to try talking with her about that too.)

Maybe you could try doing some lower pressure sexy things together? Like, for example, watching each other masturbate or telling each other sexual fantasies.
posted by overglow at 5:14 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Mrs. Rattery that your girlfriend is not necessarily a bad person or going to dump you. I've been in your girlfriend's position, and that side is also quite tough to be on. It can get to the point where you just can't bring yourself to initiate because it's quite the blow to the ego when your boyfriend repeatedly can't get an erection when sex is on the table.

So take sex off the table. You can kiss, fool around etc but under no circumstances are you to have sex. You'll probably be having sex before the week is out.
posted by daysocks at 7:06 PM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

Define kinky? Reading (a lot) between the lines, it sounds like you might be submissive (ish) and if shes not naturally dominant and or expecting you to be the dominant one, that can lead to friction. What do you want? What are your fetishes? Can you sit down and talk to her about sex? Do you masturbate? that can really derail sexy time. There is a lot you can try to do to improve things... but you are not a mind reader. If you and her cant communicate your way into making you feel more comfortable, there is a red flag, yes. It does rather take two.
posted by Jacen at 8:28 PM on September 27, 2011

She sounds kind of like a shit but to answer your exact question, if I were in your shoes I would actually jerk off a bit more, it helps to, yes, get the juices flowing.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:32 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was hoping she might do me a favor and provide extra encouragement or cheerleading to help me through this. At one point I even asked if she could do this. But she does not want to and feels that I am on my own; apparently I must take action and fix the situation myself.

Seriously?? Sounds like you would be better off on your own. DTFMA and find a woman that owns and willfully helps facilitate a healthy, supportive sex life for both of you. Sounds like she is withholding emotionally and sexually, and frankly just being a huge jerk. It also sounds like those arguments must have been pretty important and have left one or both of you with built up resentment. If the partners are not talking openly, negotiating needs, and resolving conflicts productively, there is no reason to expect that they can have a satisfying and intimate sex life. Sex is the most truthful tool for communication in a relationship, but it is also the most intimate and complex. Unexpressed feelings usually get expressed in the bedroom. I don't think it is fair for you to have to work on these issues all on your own.
posted by Juicy Avenger at 10:42 PM on September 27, 2011

My friend, your growth problems are the symptom, not the problem.

I would focus on what you described as "a few arguments and fights". Those are clearly not resolved, and by your description of her attitude, they might never be.

If all else fails, outsource. As she said, you're on your own.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 1:39 AM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I don't know. Everyone's saying her reaction is a red flag, but reading between the lines here's what it sounds like it could be to me:

"For the first six months everything was great. Coincidentally, she was doing most of the work (initiating, orchestrating.) After a few bad experiences, I'm asking her to once again jump in and do all the work of making sure things are awesome, and she doesn't want to! What the hell?"

Umm . . . maybe she is tired of being the one initiating and orchestrating and making things good for you. Maybe she's frustrated because she feels like you aren't making an equal effort. Maybe she was going out of her way to make it great for you in the hopes that you'd want to reciprocate. Her being more sexually experienced is a good excuse for the first month or two maybe, but if you've been together six months I think you could really be taking more initiative and thinking about how much she's doing for you and how you can return the favor. Personally, in the same situation I might react in the same way (of not wanting to help.) Not because I don't care, but because I don't want to feed the pattern in which I'm responsible for the well being of the sexual part of the relationship. That sort of dynamic is exhausting and often a lot less satisfying for one person than the other. Also, you said there was some fighting. This isn't unrelated. If you have issues that are not really resolved yet, it's probably more difficult for her to generate the enthusiasm needed for her to do what you want. I'd spend some time focusing on her feelings instead of just demanding that she meet your needs.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 8:08 AM on September 28, 2011 [6 favorites]

Please consider GastrocNemesis's post above.

I don't know the details of your situation any better then any of the other posters, but I have been in a situation where do to my greater level of sexual experience my partner expected me to lead the way sexually. I didn't have a problem with this for about a year, until I began to see that my partner was not just "gaining confidence and experience so that we could have a mutually exciting time" but was content to let me orchestrate, initiate and pleasure him while using his body to pleasure myself.

Frankly, the problem could be that she is a total jerk, or that she is just tired of the bad sex and is not invested enough in you to want to embark on a vast journey of sexual education and trial-and-error that may or may not eventually provide results (such as if you two end up being too sexually incompatible regardless of practice). Or maybe she feels like she is doing all the sexual heavy lifting and wants you to participate more.

Have you asked her how you are doing at actively pleasuring her?

Have you asked her if she feels like you put in as much effort sexually as she does?

I am not saying that you are to blame here. I don't know you or your girlfriend so it is not my place to judge, but I can see how this could just as easily be an issue with a lack of sexual contribution on your part as it could be a lack of caring and sensitivity on her part.
posted by Shouraku at 11:37 AM on September 28, 2011

Just want to agree with the non-pilers-on. I have been in the position of having a gentleman friend who thought I was more experienced and sexually confident than he was and could therefore babysit him through his erectile difficulties. He wouldn't believe me when I told him that this was not failing to affect me, that I was not completely psychologically okay, that I was having significant difficulties with the situation as well. The whole thing made me feel terribly unattractive and rejected, and I ceased to have any desire to initiate sex at all, because I didn't want to face the feelings of failure if it didn't work out. In the end I managed to be a good enough sport that he got over it. But in putting on a face for him, I completely destroyed my own enjoyment of sex, because it had to be all about making him happy rather than any pleasure for me, or else it would just end in tears for both of us.

So perhaps your girlfriend isn't being a bitch. Perhaps she's not so comfortable about her sexuality as you believe she is. Perhaps this is affecting her negatively as well. And perhaps she just can't handle it anymore.

This is always possible.
posted by Because at 9:21 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

"Checking-in" and putting each other in check are, what I believe healthy. To me it sounds like there is a communication issue here. A major requirement of any realtionship to last is to first understand that what 2 people put into the relationship determines any outcome. It is not up to her to see to it that everything is awesome---hello. First of all no one can make another person ANYTHING. There is no such thing as "making" a person cry; or making a person get angry; or making a person anything since each one of us has a choice and we ourself choose the avenue/feeling. No matter what anyone does/says to/about me I still choose how to behave in reference to the situation. I can react by crying, yelling, laughing etc or I can respond. Seems to me she already has been initiating with you and orchestrating and for you to ask more of this from her to me sounds kind of selfish. Instead of asking for more when you approach her; instead approach her and say "What can I do differently here in our relationship?" Relationships are about cooperation and willingness. When there is an issue between two lovers--rather than coming to the negotiating table (what I term it as) wanting something from the other to "fix" things; it is healthier to instead come to the table giving--by asking her "what could I do different in the current situation". It is about solutions. In order to recieve one has to give, right. Put your own self in check here. It also seems that you may have a complex of what you termed as "her being more sexually experienced" and that in itself could leave you feeling less than. That is not her fault! Ask her about her fantasies and research about what she likes. Put your own effort into your own self improvment. A huge part of communication is listening and it is an art unto itself. I would look into how communication works in a relationship and invite her to be a part of it. Good luck.
posted by anika_jen at 1:30 AM on September 30, 2011

I think that how you talk about it and how you focus on actual PIV sex can be huge.

I have dated one guy with confidence-based erectile difficulty. It was not a problem, however, because when it happened, he'd be really frank about it, and move on to pleasing me in other ways. (And man, was that awesome!) Which let me be extremely enthusiastic about sexytimes, even if there was no PIV sometimes.

The other thing to consider is, if she really needs that sensation, have you thought about using maybe a vibrator or something on her, so that she's still getting the sex she wants, without feeling that the point of the sex is to get you to have an erection so you can have sex?
posted by corb at 6:41 AM on September 30, 2011

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