Male Performance Anxiety

by Lauren Campbell

In my practice, I regularly see people who are struggling with anxiety.  However, my male clients commonly struggle with performance anxiety.  This type of anxiety can happen in men of absolutely any age and can result from various factors.

Cultural pressure in our pornified world where men are portrayed as always ready, always looking for action and can last the whole night is a major factor my male clients ruminate over. The word “performance” can already place men at a disadvantage where we rarely use this description for women.  This word creates an idea in our culture that men have a job to “perform” sexually, as if they are on stage.  Talk about pressure!

Men, and women, are seeing male sexuality portrayed in unrealistic ways; hard like a rock, masterful lovers upon meeting, constant pursuit of a sexual experience, dominate. These oversimplifications of the male experience are toxic to real life, complex sexual functioning leaving men to question: Am I A Real Man? These images neglect to inform our culture about the way desire and seduction are cultivated in relationships.

The anxiety to perform sexually often manifests itself in the body, preventing physical arousal, delaying ejaculation or causing early ejaculation. Like all of us, men also experience responses to their inner thoughts and world. If we are depressed, worried, feel less than, lack confidence; all of this will influence how a person would experience the world around them and their sexuality.

This is when male clients often state that they are “stuck in their heads”. Rumination takes us out of being present in our experiences. Whether it’s one or a dozen unsatisfying sexual experiences, men then begin to worry that their penises are malfunctioning, creating so much vulnerability about their sexual practice. Fearing rejection. Fearing inadequacies. Fear that I’ll never know if my partner is really enjoying it.

So take a deeper look at the in between. What’s going on in the relationship? Are you talking to your partner? Does your partner know anything about what’s going on for you? Are you able to be turned on or does your anxieties stop desire dead in its tracks? Are there things in the relationship that may turn you off? Bring your partner into the conversation! They can’t be feeling secure in the relationship with preoccupation at a high.

Take a deeper look inside yourself. Are you worried? Are you anxious? Are you unsure about your partners interest in you? Are you unsure how to read your partner? Are you unsure about your performance? Find out how your internal conversations are affecting your excitement and arousal.

Act. Don’t think about the deed or performance of sex. Put yourself in your body and feel your enthusiasm in working towards more fulfilling sex. Describe stimulation to your partner and ask for them to do the same. Get out of your head by meditating and stop measuring yourself on the unrealistic scale of manliness. Be grounded in your body!

Although men can suffer from erectile dysfunction and other sexual disorders that originate medically, more often than not, the core issue in trouble with sex is psychological.  If we can talk more about how our bodies function in reality we can focus more on the pleasure and less on the “performance.”