Overcoming Performance Anxiety
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One of the greatest sexual and emotional obstacles for men today is performance anxiety. Those who battle it on a regular basis know how crippling and debilitating worrying about it can be. The problem is in the term itself: "performance anxiety."We have socialized ourselves to think of sex as an act, a performance, with an expected role we are supposed to conform to. Maybe our anxiety around sex comes from the expectations imposed on masculinity in our culture, from watching porn, from our depictions of how men act in the media, from fears or insecurities that fuel this need to perform. It could be because of our desire for partner or peer validation that we think we need to excel in something that every man is supposed to be a stud at doing."To make sexual concerns and performance anxiety secretive, or to internalize and repress them, only makes the issues worse."
How many times have you thought about your sexual performance? How long you lasted, how good or bad you were in bed, what your partner thought of the sex, a past sexual experience that didn’t go as planned? For many guys, these questions fill our minds and often stay with us. We begin to add pressure and weight on our shoulders that we carry into the bedroom. Why are we worrying about outcomes vs. enjoying the ride?
Men typically view sex as goal-oriented, performance-driven, orgasm-centric and erection focused. How un-sexy is that sentence? Imagine what sex would be like if we came from a place of pleasure, intimacy, sharing of sexual enjoyment, no judgment? Men set themselves up for performance anxiety by creating expectations that are often too difficult to achieve -- expectations that don’t really even matter. Not only are these expectations hard to live up to, but they work against the very nature of what sex is: pleasure enjoyed by two people. If you see sex as a task or a job, you just may miss the important stuff beyond the physical and behavioral.
According to Laumann et al. in 1999, about 30% of men experience premature ejaculation (PE), about 15% have a lack of interest in sex and about 8% of men experience delayed ejaculation (DE) and cannot reach orgasm during sex. These numbers represent clinical concerns. Most men don’t have clinically diagnosed sexual issues but will have occasional bouts with PE, DE or libido concerns throughout their lives.
In 2003, Kubin et al. found that about one-third of men experienced some type of erectile dysfunction (ED) at least once a year. They also found that psychological stress was at the top of the list for men as a predictor of ED. We also know that the older men get, the higher the rates of ED. Studies have found that by age 50, almost 60% of men experience ED, and by age 70, over 80% have experienced it.
1997, Elliot and Brantley asked college males if they’ve ever faked an orgasm. Seventeen percent of straight guys and 27% of gay and bi guys answered yes. Why would a guy fake an orgasm? Some reasons may be to avoid disappointing or hurting their partners’ feelings, communication difficulties, to get sex over with or because the performance anxiety is so intense that orgasm or ejaculation is not likely.
Why am I bringing up male sexual concerns in a performance-anxiety article? Regardless of whether the sexual concerns come before or as a result of performance anxiety, the important part to recognize is they often go hand in hand. Let’s face reality: Sexual concerns and performance anxiety are common, and it’s going to happen to every guy to varying degrees. We need to accept it as a part of male sexuality without letting this get under our skin. We need to understand that it’s human nature. We need to start talking about it. To make sexual concerns and performance anxiety secretive, or to internalize and repress them, only makes the issues worse. Until you overcome the fear of addressing your struggle honestly, there’s only so much you can do to overcome your anxiety. Next Page >>