Performance anxiety - what can I do to help?
January 18, 2013 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Very excited about a new guy I'm seeing. We were getting hot & heavy and he admitted to having performance anxiety issues, that he would like to go slow, and just needs to get comfortable with me. What can I do to ease his mind... & body? Slightly NSFW.

Just started dating a guy I am really, really excited about. We get along so well, he makes me laugh, I think he's attractive and kind and sweet etc etc etc. Generally just giddy about the whole thing.

The night of our third date, things started to progress sexually, and then he pulled back and said he needed to discuss something. He mentioned that he has had problems in the past being nervous with new people, and that it takes time for him to feel comfortable and at ease, and that this affects him sexually. He said that he's generally abstained from experiences as a younger guy because of this issue. Few details: he's in his early 30's, I'm in my late 20's. About a year ago he ended a very long-term relationship (pretty much spanning his 20's), and from what I gathered from our convo, she is the only person he's slept with. I'm the first person since that relationship to get this far. I know he's really excited about me too, so I'm flattered things have progressed to this point. However, I'm a bit nervous as to how to proceed.

I'm fairly sexually experienced, having had a few serious relationships and flings in between. While one of my exes experienced performance anxiety mostly relating to condom-usage, I haven't really come across this in the past, and I'd just like some advice as to how to handle this, both physically and emotionally: how do I make him feel more comfortable, is there anything I shouldn't be doing? saying?

I feel I handled the discussion pretty well, I was supportive and tried to be as comforting and assuring as I could be. I told him that we'll just take our time, no rush, that I like him a lot and that I just want him to feel at ease with me. I spent the night, and we mostly just made out and cuddled, with a bit of fondling mixed in. It's currently that time of the month for me, so there was no action below the belt. There were moments where he was hard, and then it would go away, and I would simply move my hand and caress his chest, belly, etc. Was that the right thing to do? Should I have continued until he was erect again? In previous relationships, that's what I would have done, but I thought perhaps with him it would make him feel pressured?

I'll be seeing him again tomorrow night, and I'd like to go down on him, or at least try, and I'm wondering if any one has tips or tricks as to how to ease him into it? Of course if he's nervous or visibly uncomfortable, I won't, but I'd like to try.

Also, I've been contemplating going back on the pill for acne-related issues, but this has got me thinking that I should go back on so that in the future (after getting tested, etc), the condom doesn't further hinder the act? Has anyone found that helpful?

Any and all suggestions are greatly appreciated! I really, really like this guy, and I want to do all I can to set him at ease.

Thanks, MeFites!
posted by hollypolly to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
First off, please don't turn his issue into your issue. Don't start worrying that he doesn't find you attractive, sexy, whatever enough. Because then he'll sense your discomfort and the anxiety will spiral between the two of you.

Other than that I think you should let him initiate most of the physical stuff at the beginning so that he doesn't feel too pressured. But when he does initiate see if he responds positively to you being *a bit* more aggressive. I don't mean you should rape him but just take the lead in kissing, maybe straddle him with your pants on, and see if he responds positively. I've noticed guys who experience this sort of anxiety often like the woman to take the lead because it relieves some of the pressure from them.
posted by timsneezed at 2:38 PM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

When things start getting hot and heavy, say, "Hey, I am really into you and I want you to know that you feeling comfortable with whatever we do is a top priority for me. I really wanna get you off; can I show you how much I like you right now?" And hopefully he'll be like okay yes right now yes please yay!

But don't make this something you need to solve. It's his thing. He'll progress through it. Don't force the issue.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 2:40 PM on January 18, 2013

I'd recommend not focusing on getting him off on your own at first--that puts a goal to activities that could make him feel more pressured and nervous to perform. I'd focus on having a good sexy time, boner or no boner--there are a ton of acts and things to do that don't depend on whether he's hard or not. And maybe going for mutual masturbation--it might be easier for him to get off around you if he's the one handling the equipment. Just don't make having a good time contingent on the performance of his erection--that is, if you do end up going down on him, don't be surprised or disappointed if parts of him go down too; chances are things will still feel good, and that's the whole point, right? Just ask him before you go further on things and pay attention that his answers are enthusiastically yes before you do them.
posted by foxfirefey at 2:58 PM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh--and don't forget doing not-as-sexual touchy activities like backrubs, or shared showers, that help increase comfort and relaxation levels!
posted by foxfirefey at 3:02 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you handled the discussion really well, and it's obvious you care about this man, and him about you, which is wonderful!

He mentioned that he has had problems in the past being nervous with new people, and that it takes time for him to feel comfortable and at ease, and that this affects him sexually.

This part makes sense to me, and I think he's pretty clearly saying that he needs things to go slowly, so I want to suggest, as These Birds of a Feather said, that you not try to solve this, or him, by rushing things.

Which means...well, I think you might want to think twice about going down on him on the next date. I'm not saying DON'T do it, I'm just saying that maybe you want to do this in this time frame because you feel like you can "fix" him. Like, you will give him mind-blowing head and he will be amazed by your mad skills and you will have no more sexual awkwardness again, ever. And I'm sure you have mad skills and all, but what's the rush?

So I'm going to suggest that maybe you might want to follow his lead a bit. If things are all hot and steamy and he's good with that next time you get together, sure, go for it! But maybe just take the approach of seeing what happens naturally, rather than forcing things to a head (so to speak!).

Going in with a specific agenda and time line, especially with this sense of immediacy that you seem to have right now, creates a kind of pressure, too; once you have a script set up, someone is more likely to be disappointed if the night doesn't end up following that script.

So have fun, enjoy yourselves, but don't feel like there's a timeline for any of this, because there isn't.
posted by misha at 3:04 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is what the acronym GGG was made for. Especially the Game part. And I think in this case it means playing at his speed and letting him passively lead. Like others said above, don't make his issue your issue; just play your part and enjoy yourself. Enjoy him. Let him enjoy you. Keep doing what you're doing and don't try to outdo it!
posted by iamkimiam at 3:07 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just keep being patient and understanding. It may take some time. My boyfriend needed two months before he could stay hard during intercourse. Now it's not a problem at all.

You are probably NOT going to be able to go down on this fellow tomorrow night. Relax, have fun; encourage him to masturbate for you; don't worry about whether he orgasms. Worry about your own orgasm. His will most likely come in time. Patience is the name of the game here.
posted by baby beluga at 3:26 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd avoid going into the date with any agenda whatsoever. Going down on him on the next date might be too much, too soon, based on what he told you. For some men, getting head for the first time with a new partner can be fraught with anxiety, especially if the gent already has performance anxiety. Also, some guys just plain don't care for blowjobs, so it's best to not assume anything there.

What I've found to be helpful in this type of scenario is to reassure the guy that getting to know a new partner intimately is almost always a fumbly-bumbly process, no matter the level of expertise and confidence. It just takes time to get it all dialed in, and I actually really enjoy those early teenage-awkward sessions. There's a certain sweetness to it.
posted by nacho fries at 4:00 PM on January 18, 2013

After having regular sex with my current girlfriend for a month or two we had an incident where I couldn't stay up. It was our second time in a matter of only an hour or so, so it was all physiological and completely meaningless. Nevertheless, she took it personally and became upset. Next time we had sex I thought about this and for some reason the anxiety got to me and I wasn't able to perform normally. This made it worse. Signal spiral of dysfunction for about a month.

I finally convinced her that it didn't have anything to do with her and that she just needed to stop caring for me to go back to normal. She did, and then I did, and everything worked out and we haven't had an issue like that since.

I'm not your man, and your situation is unique, but if I have any advice it's that you should just not care as much as humanly possible. Just treat it like that's how things normally go. Imagine that all guys are like that and act accordingly. Enjoy doing whatever you are able to do with him and make sure to let him know how much you enjoy those things.

If you do want to give him a blow job, communication would probably be pretty important. Let him know that you would really enjoy giving him one even if he wasn't hard. Tell him that you just want to put your mouth on him, regardless of him getting an erection or having an orgasm. If it helps, put a short time limit on it so he knows you're not a secret mission to get him off. Then, when you're done, make sure to let him know how much you enjoyed yourself.

You want to avoid him having any evaluative thoughts of "how am I doing?" because once those are gone, he'll find that he's enjoying himself.
posted by Defenestrator at 4:00 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

The one guy I dated with performance issues I actually made things worse by trying to go down on him before he was ready. I think something about the fact that at such an eye to err eye type situation he couldn't just relax and let his penis do what it wanted but felt even more under pressure to perform. He only relaxed into things when I stopped worrying about his penis and the state it was in and let it do what it was going to do. What you were doing the last time was pretty much what we were ended up doing until he felt comfortable enough that we could have sex. Of course there is no reason why he can't go down on you, or you could mutually masturbate if it's something you'd both enjoy.
posted by wwax at 4:37 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm wondering if any one has tips or tricks as to how to ease him into it?

Wait, what? A person you are dating has said they want to take things really slowly sexually, and you want to do sexual activities they aren't comfortable with yet "or at least try" !?

Just because the person you are dating is male doesn't take away his right to decide what he does and does not consent to, whether that's condom use, having oral sex performed, or... well, anything!

Person A being more experienced than person B doesn't take that away person B's right to decide what they consent to.

Of course if he's nervous or visibly uncomfortable, I won't, but I'd like to try.

Use your words, ask him if you can try going down on him, and if he has anything other than an enthusiastic yes to that suggestion, THAT MEANS NO.
posted by yohko at 4:42 PM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

I'll be seeing him again tomorrow night, and I'd like to go down on him, or at least try, and I'm wondering if any one has tips or tricks as to how to ease him into it? Of course if he's nervous or visibly uncomfortable, I won't, but I'd like to try.

What? NO.

He told you he wants to take it slow and this reads like you're trying to figure out how you can get what YOU want as soon as possible.

Take it slow! Follow his lead, wait until he asks or otherwise makes it very clear that he's ready for oral sex.

Sorry if that's a bit harsh, but jeez, listen when someone tells you what they need.
posted by Specklet at 4:49 PM on January 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

I agree with the people above that say you really need to slow your roll. In my experience with dating a gentleman in a very similar situation, slow meant focusing on stuff above the belt for AT LEAST a month. It was actually by far the sexiest start to a relationship I've ever had, because the boundaries meant that we got to focus on all the great stuff that people sometimes rush through to get to the sex. You don't have to establish this timeline out loud, but I think you should make it your internal guide. Kiss the guy, grope the guy, nibble his ears, whatever. Sleep in the same bed, kiss when you wake up, and then get out of bed and start your day. But let HIM be the one that makes any move to take things further. If you start trying for oral or a handjob, even if you back off and say its ok when things, er... fluctuate, he'll feel pressured and wonder if you're REALLY ok with it, which is the exact opposite of what you want to go for here. Just enjoy first and second bases and stop thinking about how you can convince him to let you steal third. I guarantee this will relax him faster than any other method, with the bonus that you get to talk more and get to know each other better instead of just jumping straight to sexytimes.
posted by MsMolly at 6:38 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

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