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January 18, 2022
Pleasure & Desire | Sexual Empowerment

The Root of Men’s Performance Anxiety

Welcome to part 2 of my men’s series. In part one, I talked about why “Good Guys Finish Last” and the real issues behind the good guy/bad boy dichotomy. In this article, I want to go deeper and talk about the shame that men often feel around sexuality and how that holds them back from the sexual lives they want to have.

Lost in solitude about sexual shame?

I think many men are carrying some deep shame about their sexuality that rarely gets discussed. The recent ways that many men have opened up about their sexual abuse histories publicly have been jarring, not only because of what it has exposed in organized religion, but also because it’s rare that men open up that way.

Men are almost implored to brag about sex—but what if they aren’t having that great sex they are supposed to brag on about? What if they have internal blocks preventing them from having the sex they want, or have sexual functioning issues, body image hang-ups or penis size issues? What if they feel sexually incapable in some way? Hard to put on that confident face about it when these issues are swimming around below the surface.

Women have broken out and begun to talk far more about sex than ever before, yet men are still expected to know about sex and always want sex so there is little space created to help them actually talk about their realities with sex. When men reach out to me, the word “inadequate” comes up frequently. There is a cultural measuring stick that most men are using to see how they weigh in with sex. It’s still a very competition-based way of viewing sex. Am I enough? Can my cock satisfy my partner? Is my body attractive enough?

And still, many people still carry the Freudian idea that heterosexual women should come from penis-in-vagina sex, so if you’re not making her come that way, again, you’re falling short—often the logic will go. This does such a disservice to men and their female partners. What if we took the focus off of a penis in a vagina? What other tools would you use? What would that open up for you in sex?

Men have pressure to want sex all the time, initiate sex, and run the fuck. And yet, so many men don’t want to do that. It’s a lot of pressure. What if you are a submissive man and desire that your partner run the fuck? What if you just want some parity in how sex is initiated? I hear this complaint all the time from people of all genders—about who is responsible for initiating sex. No one seems to want to be the primary initiator.

Initiating sex is really fun actually. It’s not the initiation that’s the problem; it’s the fear of rejection. If one partner has initiated more and begins to feel rejected, they will often begin to back off to the point where they don’t initiate at all anymore if they are rejected enough times. It doesn’t feel good to be rejected, and yet no one should have sex they really don’t want to have. This is a tight squeeze. What is a couple to do?

Men are carrying a lot of shame about sex and it prevents them from having the sexual lives and the intimacy they want. Shame keeps you quiet about your feelings. It keeps your nose in a book or your focus on a video game, and not thinking about having a sexy night with your partner. It keeps you questioning your sexual ability and that can translate to erection problems, which, for many men means sexual death.

Add a bit of play to your day!

But it doesn’t have to and, actually, it shouldn’t. You’ve got perfectly good hands, mouth and brains to help you do plenty of things to please your partner. If you think it’s all about what your penis can do, you are truly limiting yourself. I think this is a place where heterosexuals can learn a lot from how lesbians have sex. I wrote my book Lesbian Sex Secrets for Men for that reason—there is a whole other perspective that men can learn from, a freedom in not having prescribed roles to play and more wide open sexual terrain to explore without the assumed penis-in-vagina intercourse.

Where do your feelings of inadequacy, and therefore, shame, come from? What cultural measuring stick have you been using? Who are you listening to? Many women who have male partners want to talk with them more and to understand them. Healing shame means you have to stop keeping it to yourself. Men need to talk about their shame. That’s how it gets healed…when loving ears listen compassionately.

Everyone is nervous about sex in some capacity and sometimes just acknowledging that fact can help your partner support you to relax and enjoy the moment more. And if you feel like you have to perform, that just kills the sex, so what could you do to enjoy your partner’s body and pleasure and bring some to yourself? What will take the pressure off? Offer a massage or to trade massage. Read a sexy book together. Watch some porn and talk about what’s hot for each of you. Try a new toy or learn a new technique. Try having sex with no penis-in-vagina to see what else you come up with.

Shame just douses sex. And most of us have it. So you’ve got to figure out a way to let yours go enough to enjoy sex again. You aren’t supposed to know everything about sex. You don’t have to be good at all of it—certainly not without practice. You should ask questions and get data about your partner. Games are great for making that playful. And you definitely want to be having fun. If you aren’t, ask yourself why not! What would make sex more fun and less inhibited or shameful? Ultimately, shame keeps you small and that doesn’t really add much zing to sex. We’ve all got those places so addressing them and moving in towards your lovers is a good way to get out of your own way so you have a whole lot more fun.

Isn’t that what we all want on some level? You can let the old stories go and create new ones. The more you let your shame go, the more you can embrace the sexual being you are today.


Jump on the registration of Fire Woman Retreat here: FireWomanRetreat.com

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7 Tips Sexual Empowerment Course for Busy Adults

Free sexual empowerment course that’s custom made for busy people. 7 days, 2 minutes per day and easily applied to everyday life and relationships.

A’magine, formerly Amy Jo Goddard is author of Woman on Fire: Nine Elements to Wake up Your Erotic Energy, Personal Power and Sexual Intelligence and co-author of the best-selling classic Lesbian Sex Secrets for Men. She earned her Master’s degree in Human Sexuality Education at New York University and has been teaching and speaking about feminism and sexuality for over two decades.

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