Help, My Girlfriend Dumped Me Because the Sex Was Awful.
Hey Dr. NerdLove,
I don’t know if you’ve touched on this specific question before and I’m super embarrassed to even ask anyone about it but I’m at the end of my rope and I hope I can at least get pointed in a direction. Sorry if this message gets a little raunchy, I’m going to try my best to keep it as clean as I can given the subject.
A little backstory, I’m a cis male and had a very active sex life in college as most people do and it was good, great even. When I graduated I slowed down considerably, but it was never a huge issue. Well, a few years ago for a plethora of reasons I went through a very DEEP depression, I had a shit job, I had no real relationship, I gained A LOT of weight, it was tough. Working on myself I can say I’m doing better today but still dealing with it. Lost a little weight, though I’m still much bigger than I used to be, got a much better job, and even ended up dating someone who I’ve known for a while, let’s call her T.
T and I got along well enough as friends before dating, we had similar interest both pretty nerdy, it was good. Then came the worst night of my life…
We were getting pretty hot and heavy, but I felt a little off, I was so excited and enjoying myself… but my body was not responding. I thought maybe it was just nerves and I’d shake it off once we hit my bedroom. NOPE! When I was pleasuring her I couldn’t get completely hard and when she worked on me I went completely soft. I was mortified, it’s never happened before and I didn’t know what to do. She tried to reassure me and said it was something we can work on. We tried and were able to have sex but a few times I still couldn’t get hard and the few times I could it was maybe a half-y, hard to maintain, and super quick. I’m definitely not saying I was God’s gift to women but it was at least good for both of us back in my prime. I’ve never been impotent or a minute-man and now I’m somehow both…
She dumped me a few weeks later saying that the sex was bad and I wasn’t attractive to her and I honestly don’t even blame her. I spiraled back down into depression.
I don’t know what to do, I’m 28 and terrified that this is just how it’ll be from now on. I feel I’m too young to have to rely on a little blue pill or only last 2 minutes before I pop. Google doesn’t help, you see all these fake solutions and pills and it’s all so confusing. I have no confidence anymore, I’m trying my hardest to talk to someone right now and in the back of my head I’m terrified that if we get that far my body will fail on me again. What can I do? Who can I talk to that will actually help? Or am I just doomed to have a bad sex life, if I have any at all… I could really use some guidance. Any help at all would be much appreciated.
From No Mojo and All Depression
Hoo boy, FNMAD: I feel for you. There’s nothing quite as panic-inducing as the time when it seems like you’re finally gonna hook up with someone you’ve had a thing for all this time… and then your body goes “LOL NOPE!” and now you’re the guy trying to convince agents and theater goers that your frog really DOES dance and sing “Hello My Baby”.
…ok maybe that metaphor got away from me.
But before we get to what you can do about this, let’s talk a little about dicks and their drawbacks. See, the problem with penises is that they’re divas. They’re the genital equivalent of Placido Domingo; if everything’s not perfect, they’re not gonna perform. Or if they do, they’re going to put on a performance so half-assed that it seems almost contemptuous to have even bothered in the first place. There are so many ways that things can go wrong and that can just leave your junk in the wrong mood. Sometimes you’ll be oversensitive or so turned on that you can’t control yourself and you go off like a series of roman candles. Other times you won’t be able to climax for love nor money nor concert tickets. And then of course, there’re times you’re softer than a super-soft birthday party and trying to do anything with it is like trying to shoot pool with a rope.
And the potential causes are seemingly endless. Poor circulation, smoking, pot use, alcohol, weight gain, lack of sleep… all of these can make your junk decide to take a vacation until things get better. But one of the most common causes for failing in the moment — especially when you’re able to get erections or climax when you’re by yourself — is anxiety. And anxiety is one of the most insidious triggers for a semi (or non-existent) stiffy because anxiety is a vicious self-fulfilling prophecy. When you’re worried that you can’t perform, well, that’s gonna actually cause performance issues. You start worrying that your dick is going to betray you at the worst possible moment and you increase the odds that it will… which then just means that you’re going to be even more worried, next time, locking you into a cycle that’s really difficult to break out of.
Even the use of medications, like Cialis or Viagra can just make things worse. In this case — when the issue is psychological, rather than physiological — the pills are just the boner equivalent of Dumbo’s magic feather; all they’re doing is giving you permission to do the thing you should already be able to do. And that word, “should”, is the mind-killer. It’s the thing that’s going to screw you over faster than a loan shark named Jimmy The Fish. Sure, you’ve ensured that things will rise to the occasion, but there’s this nagging voice in the back of your head that you shouldn’t have to do this. You’re a strapping young man; you should be getting boners that’re so hard you could break concrete. Having any sort of erectile dysfunction just means there’s something wrong with you as a man. And so the cycle continues; yeah, you can get it up, but at the cost of your pride and existential identity as a man.
(Don’t get me wrong: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking the pills… but when the issue is psychological, sometimes all you’re doing is giving yourself a crutch instead of dealing with the underlying issue.)
And that’s what’s happened here, FNMAD; you’ve had a series of deeply shitty experiences, capped off with your girlfriend telling you that you suck in the sack. No goddamn wonder you feel like a loser; here you are having an existential crisis and your girlfriend dumps you because of that crisis. It’s entirely understandable that now it seems like you’re stuck being a shit lay for the rest of your life.
Now someone get on the phone to Sir Mixx-A-Lot because there’s a huge “but” coming…
That ain’t the case. You can stop this. You can break this curse and get your sex-life back on track. The trick to breaking the curse is to break the cycle of self-reinforcement, and the way you do that is that you take your penis off the table. Er, as it were.
See, part of the issue you’re having here is that you — like a lot of folks — equate sex with penetration. Your idea about sex, especially good sex, is centered around your penis, which is actually the issue. See, despite what we’re taught, PIV penetration is actually a lousy way to get our partners off; less than 35% of women can get off from vaginal penetration. For the majority of folks who’ve got a vagina, penetration simply doesn’t stimulate the clitoris the way they need for orgasm… and that’s actually good news for you. See, what you have here is a prime opportunity to start making sex less peen-centric and more of a holistic experience with your partner. Yeah, your junk may not be getting harder than Chinese trigonometry, but that doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to be lousy in bed. What it means is that you’re going to remind yourself that there’s so much else you have available to you that never goes soft. You have your fingers. You have your tongue. You have sex toys. You’ve got your brain. You have an entire arsenal of tools to give pleasure to your partners that never fail you at the most inconvenient time. So for right now, sex is going to be less about receiving and a lot more about giving, for you. Get ready to start mastering oral sex and eating your partner like a cupcake. Get used to using your hands — and for more than just insert tab-a-into-slot-b; instead of focusing on the vaginal canal or directly on the clitoris, learn about other ways to incorporate the entire vulva into sex play, whether through gentle pressure on the whole public mound, light touch on sensitive areas… the possibilities are endless. Get comfortable with sex toys; they’re not a replacement for your penis, they’re another tool to use. A vibrator or a dildo isn’t what’s getting her off any more than a hammer is building a house by itself. It’s all about the person who’s using it.
The more you break the idea that you need to have a steely-hard erection to be a great lover and focus on the ways that you can give pleasure to a partner that have nothing to do with your dick, the better of a lover you will be over all. And as you shift that mindset away from your groin to your whole body, the less you’ll be worried about whether or not you’ll be able to get hard. It’ll be a secondary concern… which takes the pressure off you to perform. Taking away that source of anxiety will help you get your mojo back. But once you do get your mojo back — and you will — don’t forget everything you’ve learned. Sex with you should be a full-body experience… and one that’ll have your partners swearing up and down that you’re the best thing that happened to them since the detachable showerhead.
Hello Dr. NerdLove, I just want to say I really enjoy your content. It’s great that the self-help advice you give to guys like me isn’t toxic, like most of the other stuff you find online.
I just want a bit of clarification about something you have said numerous times throughout your work. You explain how women enjoy sex as much as men do and that is helpful to you guys struggling to date or be sexually active. But how can that be helpful for a guy like me? If women want enjoyable sex then they will go with the guys that are very attractive and good at sex. I’m sure women take one look at me and can tell I’d be trash in bed. I mean, if women enjoy sex, they are sure to go after experienced studs.
I’m not ugly but I am still not super hot. I don’t radiate hyper masculine virility. I am also not particularly experienced sexually. I’m not a virgin, but I have had sex only about six times with maybe 4 partners since I lost my virginity about years ago at age 27.
Why would any woman on Earth want me as a sexual partner when there is little chance I can satisfy them in bed? Average looking inexperienced guys like me can’t make women cum like pornstars. I do want to establish that I have no problem with the fact women enjoy sex, they have every right to. I feel no resentment, just sadness. I don’t see what a sexually liberated woman who knows what see wants would want with me when they could find a much more masculine guy that has been with many more partners than me.
I’m not trying to whine here, I genuinely want to understand why the fact that women love sex as men is good for a guy like me and lead me to having a much happier love and sex life.
Thank you for your time,
Um, you haven’t just missed the point, LM, you’ve missed a galaxy of points when it comes to women’s sexual agency and pleasure. And a lot of what you’re saying simply isn’t true; it’s a combination of self-limiting beliefs and mistaken ideas about what women are looking for in a partner… or what makes someone a good lover, for that matter.
The first is that numbers don’t mean much when it comes to skill. There’re folks I know who have racked up truly insane numbers of partners… but will never manage to sleep with the same person twice. They can attract ’em, but they’re so awful in bed that they’ll never get a repeat performance. Meanwhile, there’re friends of mine who can count the number of partners they’ve had on the fingers of one hand with plenty to spare, and yet their partners will swear on a stack of bibles that those are the best lovers they’ve ever had, ever.
The next is that “attractive” is a huge moving target. You’re treating attraction as being purely physical, and a very narrow idea of physicality at that. But not only does attraction mean far more than just physical good looks, but “good looks” are a matter of presentation more than anything else. Don’t believe me? Do a search for “celebrities without makeup” or “Instagram vs. Reality”. Or just look up pictures of what Brad Pitt looks like when he’s not shooting movies.
But by the same token, what women consider physically attractive is going to vary drastically. Part of the problem is that you’re buying into an idea about what women are into… but that’s what guys think women are into. If you ask women, you’re going to get vastly different responses. Guys convince themselves that dudes need to look like Henry Caville in The Witcher in order to have half a chance, while scores of women would commit any number of crimes for a chance to lick frosting off Paul Hollywood. And of course, there’s always Serge Gainsbourg — a man who looked like his mother spent too much time in Innsmouth, and yet got ass like he was in a car chase, drove over an ass cart and crashed through a plate-ass window.
But then there’s also the fact that women are attracted to more than just the physical. Guys made fun of the idea that, say, Jon Favreau’s character in Chef could ever hook up with Scarlett Johansson or Sofia Vergara without ever seeing what chef culture is actually like or the men and women who’re into them. A guy who can cook AND treats sex like eating a gourmet meal? That is a dude who is never gonna have a Saturday night alone if he doesn’t want to.
Then there’s the idea that you have to fuck like a porn star to be a great lover. First: you need to realize that porn sex is bad sex; it’s bears as much resemblance to real sex as The Fast and the Furious resembles to driving. It’s all done to look good for the camera, not to actually get someone off.
But more importantly, sex isn’t just about experience or technique. Being a great lover isn’t about knowing how to do the swirly-go-round, the Rusty Venture or the Transylvanian Twist, it’s about connecting with your partner. It’s about communication. Sex is incredibly individualistic; what gets one person off like a rocket is going to make other people’s skin crawl. Just because one person liked it when their lovers would get elbow-deep in them, that doesn’t mean everyone else will too. A big part of being a great lover is simply having a willingness to pay attention, an ability to take direction without letting the ego get in the way and a can-do attitude. Another big part? Being able to use your words and to encourage your partner to use theirs. The more they feel that they can ask for what they want — or better yet, show you — the better a lover you’ll be, because you’ll be able to provide them exactly what it is they need.
Nor are women just looking at you and assuming that you can’t fuck. I can tell you from experience: you can’t predict sexual skill by somebody’s looks. The worst sexual experiences I’ve had have been with women who had bodies that would make a priest kick in a stain-glass window… and they had all of the sexuality of a dead fish. Some of the most amazing, freak-nasty lovers I’ve ever had, on the other hand, had been people you would never suspect.
Now, if you want to work on your visual appeal, then there are things you can do. Working on your presentation is a start. Learning how to dance is another thing that can help; a strong sense of rhythm, an ability to move your hips as well as to lead and follow? That’ll all help. But those are supplements, not requirements. The surest way to be someone that women will want to take home is simply to work on learning how to connect with them. Sexual attraction is as much in the brain and the heart as it is in the groin; if you want to get into someone’s pants, being able to get into their head. If they can’t get you off their mind, they’ll want you getting them off later.