Sexual Performance Anxiety – Advice War (2 of 2)
Male Sexual Performance Anxiety
Sexual Performance Anxiety can be as minor as worrying about doing an act right, to as major as the full-blown inability to achieve and maintain an erection. The constant worrying ensures that those that do achieve an erection will have a premature ejaculation or lose the erection soon after. As you may realize, the symptoms of performance anxiety compound on themselves and create more anxiety; it is a vicious cycle that saps the confidence out of men.
In men, “it’s the most common psychological contributor to erectile dysfunction.”(1)
Poor sexual interactions can drive conflict in relationships, for obvious reasons. But it is also poor interactions or general conflict, itself, that can strip sexual desire, altogether.
When partners resort to anger, defensiveness and resentment, they become foes on the battlefield of love, in the War of the Roses. It is obvious that sexual desire would be lacking when two individuals act in a manner that is remote to romantic connectedness. These conflicts destroy trust and intimacy, both of which powerfully engender sexual appetite. Intimacy is something that I have found to be incorrectly understood by many partners.
In fact, intimacy goes far beyond the bedroom walls. It involves not just the physical contact, but emotional atmosphere of closeness. “It is based on a deep biological need,”(2) and knowing this can either set us free or enslave us by failing to support and nurture it. I can relate to the feelings I have with my partner and those that she relates to me, as they pertain to intimacy, of which can only exist when each partner is unconditionally loved and accepted. While it is not the intent of this article to discuss body image specifically, it is nevertheless a critical factor to spur sexual arousal(1). For strong sexual satisfaction and desire to exist and persist, both partners need to feel open, desired, and loved by their partner. Were a partner to remove their clothing, they need to feel as if they were not being judged negatively. To the contrary, it is critical for that removal of clothing to be welcomes by the other individual. Judging our partner’s attractiveness, weight or otherwise, is sure to kill the mood.
Did I mention intimacy, yet? Well I am going to mention and emphasize it a lot now. Not only is a strong communication pipeline a happy couple requirement, it is necessary for conflict mitigation and resolution, and building intimacy. (intimacy communication circle) Intimacy creates the environment for strong couples communication, and communication engenders intimacy, itself. It is not enough for one’s body to be unconditionally accepted and desired by their partner. Their thoughts, opinions, desires and feelings need to be accepted and desired, as well. How many relationships exist that one or both partners do not speak about difficult issues or concerns, for fear of reprisal? The problem, itself, is staggering. If there is little to no intimacy, it will be apparent. Partners that are in these relationships will be fearful of speaking to their partner in a difficult moment, whether it is related to sex or not. Keeping it a secret can only hurt the relationship as a whole, where the partner kept quiet in the misguided attempt to spare their or their partner’s feelings. As it relates to sex, performance anxiety in a man will lead to a difficulty in achieving and maintaining an erection. It is very typical for the woman to take this as a lack of attraction towards her, further compounding the problem of communication and intimacy. In this case, intimacy is attacked on two fronts: The woman feels as if something is wrong with her, which will make her retrench and the lack of communication reinforces the need for the relationship to keep secrets; it becomes more and more habitual and the lack of communication, itself, destroys intimacy. The idea that partners are not working together to solve life’s problems becomes self-reinforcing. If partners cannot begin by communicating, then the problem of sexual dissatisfaction is guaranteed to persist, dragging down the rest of the relationship with it. Intimacy.
Sexual Performance Anxiety
It is commonly thought that Performance Anxiety is not a problem until a man approaches his 50’s, whereas the anxiety can prevent an erection in a man at any age, or cause him to ejaculate prematurely. There are television advertisements that constantly feature material targeted to middle-aged men, all the while there is an epidemic in men of all (sexually active) ages, although premature ejaculation is greater in prevalence at earlier ages than erectile dysfunction. I consider it to be a silent killer, waiting in the shadows, ready to strike when an individual is in a weak emotional state. Whether young or old, there are many issues that can be the cause of excessive worry in the bedroom. For me, it was the demands of a new relationship and feeling the “need” to perform at an expert level, without exception. Obviously, these are self-imposed concerns, as no person can force us to believe anything. The young individuals are unprepared for the moment that their genitals fail to comply, for whatever reason it may be. The ensuing panic is sure to have severe repercussions on the couple’s sexual chemistry and satisfaction. It is important to distinguish the original failure with the failures to achieve an erection, following the primary event. Failing to achieve an erection, or losing one, may be caused by very simple mental preoccupations, like worry about one’s performance or perhaps experiencing physical pain during intercourse.
It is my intention to inform and prepare men and women, as performance anxiety is far more prevalent than is generally understood. We need to address it to not only abate it, but to eliminate the anxiety that likely persists in a couple’s current relational environment. It is important to also address the underlying precursors that enable anxiety to fester and attack, when the right conditions are met.
A man that experiences sexual performance anxiety will also, likely, fear physical contact with a significant other. The withdrawal is because the man fears failure. He fears allowing a moment to escalate to the point at which his genitals are put on the spot and expected to perform. In a real sense, a man that suffers this anxiety will fear his partner’s sexual arousal. When confronted with a tight embrace and a warm, wet kiss, a man might panic, thinking that she is desiring his rock hard genitalia. The physical avoidance, along with the fear, contribute to the removal of vital precursors of male sexual arousal. And wouldn’t you know it? Intimacy is destroyed, as a result. Without intimacy, there can be no connectedness that is necessary to solve the problem of sexual performance anxiety. Partners need incredible understanding and patience to navigating the sexual nuances that ensue.
I consider the sexual and emotional environment of a couple to be a large determining factor to whether or not anxiety will be the result of erectile failure. The same demands placed on a woman, a man will place on himself. Consider that a large number of men expect their wives to become instantly aroused when they begin groping her, wanting sex. An otherwise healthy man might initiate sex once the light bulb illuminates inside of his sexual brain.
Hurry! Hurry! Hurry!
Instead of focusing on co-creating an intimate sexual and emotional environment that persists outside of the bedroom, they focus on looking for instant gratification and satisfaction; it is a real race to the finish. This sets the man up for failure when his genitals no longer respond in such instant manner. In fact, as a man ages, it requires more time and more fondling for his genitals to become erect. His partner might not appreciate this difference over time and be confounded when a less than erect fallace is presented to her, when she initiates sex. In addition, the common addiction to porn and its’ brainwashing capabilities only add to this perception of instant hard-ons followed by bland and emotionless sex. It changes the perception of what is real and what is not. The female porn actresses are seen needing no real stimulation, other than physical. It is typical for a male actor to already be erect when entering the scene, which will surely add to the expectation of the common man to need to become instantly aroused.
The cure to sexual performance anxiety, whether it pertains to premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction is the same. It is also the same precursor to every blissful relationship. These are relationships that have no guard up and no secrets. Not only are they not afraid to communicate their challenges and failures to their partner, they feel welcomed or desired to do so. Intimacy and unconditional love and acceptance create the environment that is desperately needed to foster sexual chemistry. Building a relationship on these grounds requires that it is comprised of two self-happy and independent individuals. Co-dependence involves relying on the affirmations of others to fulfill one’s emotional needs. It may work initially, or for some time, but it is guaranteed to end in disaster when that individual does not feel fulfilled. As it relates to sex, it is guaranteed to become a seriously crippling anxiety when one cannot self-regulate their emotions. One’s partner, especially of another gender, is certainly not going to inherently understand the subtle nuances of performance anxiety in a man, as they drastically differ from female anxiety.
Men have to understand that it is never too early to transform their understanding of their emotions. Mindful individuals, or those that are capable of using their logically directed mind by living in the moment, are very resilient to stressors that may precipitate sexual failure. In my opinion, the mindful individual is also one that lives his life thinking logically and not emotionally. As such, a mindful individual will be able to react to the obstacles as they come, and navigate around them, instead of crashing head-on into them. It is the inability to regulate emotions based on facts that enables performance anxiety to erupt and persist.
The man suffering from performance anxiety (to any degree) is unable to fend off the anxiety-inducing worry over achieving and maintaining his erection, despite having hundreds or thousands of successful experiences in the past to look to for proof. One instance of failure can set off a chain-reaction of pain and suffering that affects not just the man, but the man’s partner as well.
Thanks for reading,
1: Emotional and social issues. (2010). Sexuality in Midlife & Beyond (2010), 10-13.