I wish men were more honest with each other about sex. Male sexual socialization is full of such unrealistic, toxic ideas about what is “normal” sexual function.
The images are that men are sex machines, able to have perfect sexual function any time an opportunity comes their way. You can combine this with the fact that men are not honest with their friends and co-workers about their occasional erectile instability, or about ejaculating before they want to.
So men are living in a world in which you believe that every other guy is better in bed, and more virile. Then, when they compare what may be totally normal functioning to these myths — and when their own friends lie — they become more and more anxious. And that just makes having sex more threatening.
The late, great sex therapist Bernie Zilbergeld wrote all about this in his book, The New Male Sexuality. If you are tortured by feeling that your sexual performance is not up to par, I urge you to read Zilbergeld’s book.
I frequently have sessions with men who are worried because when they have intercourse with a new partner, they have trouble keeping an erection. This glitch goes away once they grow to trust that partner. But in the meantime, their anxiety about their sexual functioning actually makes it more difficult to enjoy sex without having performance anxiety.
There is nothing abnormal about having some sexual fear when you are in bed with a near or total stranger. The problem is that none of your acquaintances or friends in the same situation are admitting to the fact that they have the same experiences.
Once, I was in my office with a young man who was talking to me about having this problem. I wound up having a little daydream. I dreamed of a day when thousands of men would sign their names and ages on to a statement published in the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times or the Washington Post that says, “We, the undersigned, occasionally have erectile dysfunction.”
I would welcome that day, and my practice would be a lot less busy.
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