Nervous during sex
March 8, 2012 9:50 PM   Subscribe

I get really nervous during (attempted) sex with new people. I feel like a nervous teenager. Help me get out of my own damn head!

I'm male, straight, 27 years old.

Whenever I'm sort of "getting to know" a new partner, I have performance problems.

This has been mostly just a speed bump as far as relationships go (most girls are understanding and will work with me until I'm more comfortable), but I think it's keeping me from pursuing more frivolous sexual experiences, things which I'd like to be able to pursue should future opportunities arise.

Not only that, but I've been on a few dates with someone new recently, and I like this girl quite a bit so far. We have made out a little bit, and I think odds are that things will progress to sex very soon.

I'd really like to have a good FIRST sex experience with a partner for once. I'd really like to try, at least, both for myself and for her. It would be really fantastic if our first sexual encounter didn't end with me feeling apologetic and having to explain my performance anxiety issues.

I'm willing to accept that outcome, and I don't really fear that it will necessarily ruin things with this new girl, but I'd really like to try to avoid that outcome if possible.

It'd be cool to have a relatively smooth and seductive sex experience for once, you know? Or even just a fun little one night stand that I can remember fondly when I'm in old age.

I'm considering ED medication for the future, and I am currently taking Xanax, but any non-prescription methods would be quite welcome.

Any advice for helping me to stop worrying about it so much and just enjoy the moment, if and when that moment comes?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

IANAD/IDHAP (I don't have a penis) but I thought I remembered reading that Xanax had some sexual side-effects, one of which can be ED? Not sure of your Xanax-taking timeline and if that's a possible culprit, but wanted to throw it out there.
posted by dotgirl at 9:59 PM on March 8, 2012

This is the one problem for which a magic pill exists. Just take it.
posted by trevyn at 10:10 PM on March 8, 2012 [8 favorites]

Back before I met my partner, I went through a patch of this. The worst thing was that each failed attempt tended to make things worse, as it eroded my confidence in my ability to perform, so to speak. What eventually fixed it for me was having a series of good sexual experiences with a patient partner who didn't have too many expectations. That relationship turned out not to last, but it did restore my sexual confidence. After that, I didn't really have any problems in that department, even in subsequent first-time encounters.

I can't really speak to how exactly you can go about developing that confidence without getting a few good experiences under your belt first, but I'm pretty sure that the solution lies somewhere in this area. You have to go into it believing that everything is going to go great, that whatever moment is usually a snag for you (whether that be taking off your clothes, putting on a condom, lining yourself up for penetration, whatever) is not going to be a snag (you might practice this alone, if indeed there is a particular moment that tends to hang you up) and that you're going to have a great time and rock this woman's world in the process.

You really have to get to the point of confidence where you aren't even thinking about whatever it was that used to be a problem, because it's simply out of the question that it might be one. You have to learn to relax and enjoy, to take yourself out of your head and just exist in the moment. This is something that I have huge difficulty with in general, and I know it fed my sexual insecurities, back when I was troubled by this.

How you get there is sort of up to you, and it's hard to provide specific advice without knowing what your exact problem is here, but for me it was a matter of being able to sort of shut off my brain while I was putting the condom on so that I wouldn't be worrying about whether or not I was going to be able to sustain an erection, because once I started worrying about it it was all over. Once I learned to just not think about it and not expect it to be a potential snag, it sort of stopped being one.
posted by Scientist at 10:17 PM on March 8, 2012

How long does 'getting to know' imply? If it's just the first time, and the next morning you can deliver, then I think there's no real issue. If it's longer, then you can just explain that you take a while to warm up to new partners.

THEN (and this is important) you can spend some time enjoying each other's bodies that doesn't involve your penis. After some time (minutes, days, whatever) of that, hopefully you're comfortable enough around her to try again.
posted by twirlypen at 11:09 PM on March 8, 2012

IDHAP, either, but I also went through something like this. I finally confided in a VERY good male friend who I've known since 7th grade.

He helped me realize that there was an underlying reason for this - I had severe lack of confidence coming from some things that happened while I was growing up.

I don't know if you have a similar reason, but it may be good to think about it a little. Think about why you are nervous the first time.

Oh, and tell her. She will understand, and if she doesn't, the relationship just may not be worth it.
posted by xmts at 2:06 AM on March 9, 2012

First, this is super normal. I do have a penis, and I've always found first-time sex to be a complicated experience. (Too soft, too fast, too slow, can't come, or some magical combination of all of those.) I think some of us just need more time to "get in tune" with a partner, which makes the first night in particular a hit-or-miss experience. Equally, one-night stands are great for some people, and not so great for others -- make sure you are not trying to fit yourself into a pattern that doesn't work well for you.

Second, you'll need to see how Xanax works for you sexually. Like probably about half of us here, I take it occasionally for anxiety, and I've found that it definitely has sexual side effects for me. (I can still get hard, but coming takes forever, which you'd think would be ideal but mostly just gets boring, frustrating, and even painful.) Looking at the listed side effects, people seem to react differently to the drug, so you'll have to experiment and see whether it is helping or not.

Third, if this is as severe or as frustrating as your question indicates, you definitely should ask your doctor about Viagra or other ED drugs. I've never taken them, but from conversations I'd guess that about a quarter of the guys I know have either taken them to get over short term issues or take them routinely. This is normal, and you may as well benefit from the miracles of modern science.
posted by Forktine at 5:43 AM on March 9, 2012

There's no reason that once things start getting hot and heavy that they necessarily have to progress to sex. You can always just concentrate on going down on them and if things start working for you down there, move on to the actual sex, and if they don't, then just don't sweat it. I've had 'first times' (usually well I was fairly drunk) where I couldn't get anything going and the worst thing is to keep trying to force it. Sometimes just kind of forgetting about it and lying in bed and talking or cuddling or whatever would help me get started.

So I guess I would go into it with the mindset that you're not going to have actual sex, and if it does, then great. If not, then, like, whatever.
posted by empath at 5:53 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not exactly like you can grab a blister pack of Viagra on the pharmacy shelf next to the condoms. Chinese Red Ginseng has some research behind it, and even if it didn't, the placebo effect may be all you need for gaining confidence.

Practicing putting on the condom could help, too. I've found that sitting up on the edge of the bed works best for me for some reason.

Starting out with some sexytime sessions without PIV intercourse on the menu is surprisingly popular with a lot of women.

Also, this is super common according to my platonic female friends.
posted by Skwirl at 6:07 AM on March 9, 2012

Avoid masterbating for days, even weeks leading up to it. Go slow and don't make a move until the moment is right.
As a woman, I can tell you, we get first time jitters too. Falling asleep in someone's arms and then waking up to have sex works great. You are both relaxed.
Ideally, you would only have sex with someone that you want to make love to. When you care about someone the focus is more on their experience and body, less on you. This may help you get out of your head- try to get into her head. Look into her eyes, explore her body, pay attention to how she responds to different types of touch. Every woman is different. A great lover knows this and pays attention to the differences. If you make a woman feel really seen, really cared for, nothing else matters.
posted by myselfasme at 6:52 AM on March 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

Avoid masterbating for days, even weeks leading up to it.

This is a great prescription for having the opposite, premature problem.

I can't help with having a good first experience with someone, because I never really have. It's not that I can't get an erection; it's that having sex with someone I don't really know (and who doesn't know me*) sexually just isn't very fun. It's usually around the 3rd of 4th time when it gets really good.

I managed to dodge this bullet with my current SO by both of us being very drunk the first night we had sex, and still tipsy the next morning for the second time.

*Women tend to think that sex will always be good for men. It ain't so. Some (many?) men just have low standards.
posted by coolguymichael at 8:56 AM on March 9, 2012

As someone who has had a one night stand or two - it's always awkward the first time, unless you really know the person well or have had occasions to "fool around" before jumping into the act of intimacy. Sadly, first time encounters aren't something you can get really good at since everyone is different. The best thing to do is just try and have some fun. Enjoy the lady you have in front of you and don't stress out. Sex is suppose to be fun.

In the meantime, I would research the effects of Xanax on ED and if you tend to have a few drinks before hand to get some "courage", limit your intake before the big event.
posted by Danithegirl at 9:11 AM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've always had the same issue, though its become less pronounced as I've gotten older, and the easiest solution is to simply take sex off the table the first time you get intimate with someone. Cuddling, naked cuddling, sleeping in each other arms, and lots of kissing and touching with out expectations do a lot to acclimate the sexytimes part of my brain to the idea that this sexy person with me is sexy, wants to have sex, and that doing sexy things will be awesome. Then when both I and my lizard brain are totally on board for sexytimes they proceed without a hitch.

I've got Mexican Yenta's 'stop fucking all the things' advice in my head, but really, just slow down and you should be fine.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:21 AM on March 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Get a perscription for ED meds. Viagra works. Start with a full dose (usually about half a pill) then slowly wean yourself off it. You'll probably want to make a bunch of capsules. LABEL THEM CLEARLY. Start with 8/16 dose capsules, then 7/16, then 6/16, etc. You may want to level off at a few steps -- for example, you may want to stay at 5/16 for a few sessions before you're ready to take the plunge with 4/16. Eventually you'll be down to 1/16 and you'll realize that it isn't just the medicine working, that you've successfully conquered your fear.

A couple things though :

* ED meds won't work unless you're aroused. They'll help you create and maintain a boner, but they won't work if you're not turned on.

* ED meds won't necessarily make you come. It's possible to have a raging hard-on but not be able to come.

* Above all, you should be with a girl who you think won't run away screaming at the sight of a limp dick. So you should try to build some sort of trust/relationship with her. Or at very least, don't sleep with someone (like a coworker) who you'll have to encounter later.
posted by Sloop John B at 10:15 AM on March 9, 2012

As a 21 yo male I would have such awful performance anxiety It took two months with each of my two girlfriends (up until that point) before I could have a boner around them. We are talking full on sever anxiety panic terror.

With my third I decided I'm sick of this bullshit. I couldn't handle it anymore. I wasn't going to put up with it anymore. I was still young and on my parents medical plan, and was too nervous. So I ordered viagra online from India. It came and it's legit. I suggest you go to a physician though.

I took 1/3-1/2 a pill before first-night-alleged sex with new girlfriend-to-be. I had literally the most rock-hard raging erection of my life. I was terrified still but my dick was as hard as reinforced titanium. As we had sex since I was nervous I couldn't come, but my dick was hard so she loved it, I quickly built up self-confidence and only used it 5-10 times after.

We joke about it now. But I do not regret it.
posted by jjmoney at 12:39 PM on March 9, 2012

Yeah, been there to a greater or lesser extent many times... I find it's really helpful to talk about it a bit, and still, as was mentioned above, explore bodies and sleep together, and eventually it's all good. It's about feeling safe and unjudged, and there's nothing like waking up in someone's arms for that...
posted by kaibutsu at 12:54 PM on March 9, 2012

Slow down a lot. Make out much longer. Grind with clothes on. Play. Cuddle. It's counter intuitive but your goal is to get to a place where you're equally aroused and relaxed. At the same time.
posted by ead at 11:28 PM on March 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

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