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Anxiety

Why Sexual Performance Anxiety Sucks

Sexual performance anxiety typically results from a person’s inability to perform well during sex. It can happen to anyone and can feel almost crippling to go through it. 

“I’m so sorry, but this never happens,” he said as he shook like a leaf. Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead as he tried furiously to get his erection back.

“It’s alright, we don’t have to do this right now. It’s nothing to worry about. These things happen. Here, have some water,” I said while trying to soothe his anxiety. 

 He stayed silent and finally gave up. He got up and started wearing his clothes. I obviously didn’t want to be the only naked person in the room, so I wore mine too. 

“Hey, so…I think I’ll bounce now.”

He left, to never be seen or heard from ever again. And I sat there, on the edge of my bed, dumbfounded. It took me some time to register that my partner had just left without so much as even a ‘bye.’ 

He ran out on me! 

I wish I could tell you that this was the first time I’d encountered a partner who had sexual performance anxiety. Of course, I couldn’t ever come close to imagining what it's like to be going through it. However, as someone who has been battling with anxiety for several years, I know that it can put you in a state of panic and it can feel crippling to go through it—especially if you're unsure about whether the person near you is equipped to take care of you. So, no matter what I could have said or done at that time, he probably thought that this was the only way he could get out of the situation as soon as possible. 

Sexual performance anxiety

For the uninitiated, sexual performance anxiety is largely psychological. It happens when you're nervous and anxious about performing well in bed. Some people tend to worry about it excessively, due to the undue pressure that is put around sex and orgasms. It can be a one-off case, which is rare. But many struggle with performance anxiety during their entire lives. Very rarely does anyone try to seek medical help for it.  

Like I said, by this point I’d been with a few people who have had performance anxiety issues. It only felt logical to do a little research so I could be better prepared the next time something like this happened. Of course, I started by doing a deep dive on the internet—luckily WebMD didn’t show cancer or worse things like it usually does. However, that wasn’t enough. So, I did what I thought was the next best thing—I scrolled through my phone and went on all the dating apps I used to keep uninstalling and re-installing. I asked some of the guys there if they’d ever experienced something like that. Of course, my questions got mixed reactions but some people came forward and didn’t mind sharing what it was like. I clearly remember what one person said because it was both sad and poetic at the same time. 

“It [sexual performance anxiety] feels like you're standing in front of a packed audience, naked and alone, with a microphone in your hand and no idea what to say. It's the feeling of being under a spotlight, with all eyes on you, and the realization that you're about to make a fool of yourself. It's the dread of being judged and ridiculed, of not being good enough or worthy of love and acceptance.”

Turns out, he was a stand-up comedian. He knew exactly what it felt like to have stage fright both in front of a large audience and in the bedroom. We’re no more in touch, we just had too many ideological differences. But, that’s a story for a different time.

I decided to take my questions to my therapist instead, and her insights were incredibly helpful. I happen to experience orgasm anxiety, especially in partnered play. She has been a great help in navigating these situations, so it made sense to speak with her. Here’s what she had to say - 

“Imagine that your sexual abilities are like a muscle that you need to exercise and maintain in order to perform well. Just like any muscle, it can get "out of shape" if you don't use it enough, or if you use it in the wrong way. And, you can improve your sexual abilities with practice and dedication.

But here's the thing: just like going to the gym or practising a musical instrument, exercising your sexual abilities can be nerve-wracking at first. You might feel self-conscious, unsure of yourself, or worried about not being good enough. This is where sexual performance anxiety comes in. It's that little voice in your head that tells you that you're not good enough, that you're going to fail, or that you're not going to live up to your partner's expectations.”

The key to overcoming sexual performance anxiety is to recognize that it's a normal part of the process and to push through it. It might take some time and practice, but with the right mindset and support, you can improve your sexual abilities and enjoy a healthy and satisfying sex life. 

3 Tips You Can Use To Overcome Sexual Performance Anxiety

#1 Communicate With Your Partner

Indian Couple

Talking to your partner about your anxiety can ease some of your worries. Try telling them what is bothering you and help them understand your needs. If you’re going through things like a lack of positive body image or self-esteem, mental health issues like depression, or even extreme stress, you should voice out your concerns. Trying to reach a solution together could even help you come closer as a couple. 

#2 Get Intimate In Other Ways

Penetrative sex isn’t the end-all of how you can express your passion to your partner. Get creative—give each other a sensual massage using massage oils for relaxation like Melt oil massage candles, use self-care products like Palm to take off the pressure, and maybe even try out temperature play or wax play. There is no shortage of things you can do to make your sex life exciting when you’re trying to break away from the usual.

#3 Talk To A Therapist

If it continues to bother you too much, you might want to consider booking an appointment with a therapist who has experience in treating this kind of anxiety. They’ll be better equipped to support and assist you in this journey. Take your time choosing the right therapist for you and consult someone you can resonate with - it makes a world of difference.

Mojo back

The truth is, sexual performance anxiety is a normal part of life and it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's a natural reaction to stress and fear, and it's something that we can all learn to manage and overcome. The next time you feel the butterflies in your stomach and the sweat on your brow, just remember: it's just sex, and it's supposed to be fun. So relax, let go, and enjoy the ride.

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