Man on bed head in hands

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Picture it: You’re about to have sex with a new partner who you’ve really been feeling, but you just can’t keep it up. Instead of fantasizing about the next three moves you plan to put down, you keep thinking about all the ways things can go awry. Suddenly, you’re flashing back to past experiences when you felt like—or even knew— your performance was wack. You were nervous, and your sexual confidence (and d*ck) took a nosedive. Even worse, you couldn’t hide either.

This is a scenario experienced far too often by millions of men who battle with performance anxiety,  a type of sexual dysfunction that comes in many forms. Signs of this condition include symptoms such as the inability to maintain an erection (you can’t stay hard), premature ejaculation (cumming way too quick) or not having a desire for sex (not wanting to get it in with someone you clearly find attractive). Sexual anxiety can be a consistent issue or something that occurs periodically. The good news is that you can overcome it. The key is learning how to reduce your angst around intercourse. Take a look at these tips on how to stay excited about, well, getting excited.


UPDATED: March 17, 2021 —

1 Don’t Talk Yourself Down, Literally

It’s easy to fall into a pattern of negative self talk, especially when you’ve been hit with disappointing or embarrassing comments from previous partners. Reduce your anxiety by not staying stuck on who you were and focusing on what you’re working on becoming. Also, it’s important to remember that there are more endearing qualities about you than what you can do with your penis. Need a reminder? Make a list containing ten of your best qualities in your phone and look at that list when your ego begins to attack you with the past. Also, make a commitment to yourself to do the work to address the issues that are negatively impacting how you engage with a partner. That may mean learning more about the male and female body, so you feel more informed about what makes a good lover. It may mean hitting up a therapist to work on some personal issues that are messing up your headspace. You may even have to rethink how you’re engaging with yourself during your “private time”—is porn or masturbation a factor? Being real is the only way to be better.

2 It’s Not a Flick

Watching pornography and other sexually charged media can create anxiety for those who forget flicks and staged images are not real life. Nix the idea that anything that goes down during a real life intimate moment should be like what you’ve seen. There is no standard way anyone should have sex. Every person is different and how people receive pleasure is varied.

“While there is nothing inherently bad about visual erotica, it can create and reinforce a one-person sexual experience,” says Dr. Kate Balestrieri, Psy.D, certified sex therapist, sex addiction therapist and founder of Modern Intimacy. “That means that arousal happens only in the context of their own touch, smell, and sounds (minus those coming from the video). Introducing a partner in real-life can add another person’s sounds, smells, touch, and sexual needs to the equation, and can overwhelm a body used to experiencing arousal alone, and increase anxiety.”

Let go of the idea that you have to put on a show. You are showing up to be present with your partner for a pleasurable experience. It’s not Cirque du Soleil. Relax. The only thing you should be “turning on” is your partner. Sex is about a connection, not cinema.

3 Ditch Casual Sex

Talking to your potential partner about sex prior to engaging in sexual activity works wonders for releasing anxious energy. Take the time to get to know your partner, so when you finally decide to be intimate you can talk beforehand about being a little anxious, and communicate your desire to deliver and receive pleasure.

“Communication with your partner(s) about your concerns can help reduce the need to be overly pre-occupied with an erection or early ejaculation,” says Balestrieri. “Most performance anxiety happens with new partners, so getting to know someone better can help set the stage for a mutually rewarding sexual experience that is based as much as on non-penetrative sex as it is on penetration. Taking the pressure off penetration and focusing on other ways to be sexual can often help the anxious mind relax, and arousal more available and spontaneous.”

We all have some feelings of self-doubt when it comes to sexuality, so you won’t be alone in your thoughts. The big win? Opening up to your partner and talking about likes/dislikes will provide you with a road map, and eliminate some of the guesswork when you get down to business.

4 Get Your Mind Off the Nut

Stay in the exact moment. Once you actually start touching you shouldn’t have your mind on the end game: orgasm. Rushing through sex to get to the finish line often results in folks ignoring the nuances of pleasure, which ultimately diminishes the intensity of the climax. If you focus more on how good the touches, kisses and strokes feel in the moment, the anxiety experienced during sex will subside. Being rooted in the moment is a major key to relieving stress during sensual play.

Rushing through sex, to focus on an orgasm, or the relief of a sexual expense having been completed deprives both parties of the potential for a much richer pleasure experience,” says Balestrieri. “In our rush to hit the mark, we can lose the joy of the journey. Sure, orgasms are great, but they are not the whole story. So much of what constitutes an erotically mind-blowing sexual exchange is the attunement and attentiveness to all layers of sensory pleasure and the deep, enriching moments of ecstasy that come with a lingering touch, fiery eye contact, and a willingness to be mutually exploratory.”

The bottom line: a quickie is great every now and then, but if it’s your only vibe, you may be missing a whole lot of terrain.

5 Throw Them Hands

Sex isn’t just about penis penetration. Get in the habit of touching your partner sensually, and extensively. Cuddle up with each other or even dry hump with your clothes on by grinding your pelvises together (this generates strong sexual energy and desire). Masturbate in front of your partner or masturbate together while keeping your eyes focused on each other. Set a timer and kiss for five minutes straight. Play with each other’s inner thighs and pubic mounds in massage. Give each other erotic massages using warm oil and candle light. There are so many ways to connect and pleasure your partner without penetration. These activities are about the end game. They encourage you to connect…which ultimately leads to way better orgasms.

6 Think of Foreplay As “Your Time”

Masculine sexual energy is easily aroused and quickly expended. The more you slow down and focus on turning her on, the less anxious you will feel. On average, it takes 20-45 minutes for a woman’s network of erectile tissue to become fully engorged and ready to receive pleasure. The average man reaches his orgasm within five minutes of penetration, leaving his partner unsatisfied and ready for more.

“Pay attention to the cues your body gives you that tell you are getting excited, and reaching the point of no return, and an orgasm is inevitable,” says Balestrieri. “Practice the art of slowing down, with yourself, as you reach the point of orgasmic inevitability, so you can gain more control over your erection and orgasm.”

The message? Delay your entry—even if she’s begging for it. Slowing things down and focusing on her pleasure will yield you the best results when it’s time for you to enter her.

Finally, working with a sex therapist can help men with performance anxiety directly address the thoughts and fears they have, and have the kind of sex life they seek. “Men often over-couple their sexual virility with their identity as a man, and that can wreak havoc on their pleasure potential with a lover. Right-sizing expectations, obtaining accurate sex education, and processing fears can help abate performance anxiety in the moment,” says Balestrieri.

Glamazon Tyomi knows all things sex. Don’t believe it? Just watch. Follow her @GlamazonTyomi.