What to Do When You Can’t Get It Up

This scenario is more common than you might think. You’re a dude. A young dude. Otherwise healthy. Horny. You want to have sex. But then the moment comes and you’re nervous, you don’t want to disappoint her in any way. So she’s touching it and you know what it’s supposed to do but it just. doesn’t. work.

So you feel embarrassed. She might ask you what’s wrong. But you honestly don’t know. You want to do it. You’re turned on. Your dick just isn’t working.

Here are some things to realize about your dick. If you fully internalize these truths, erection difficulties will at worst be a minor inconvenience instead of a source of fear and shame, and at best go away entirely.

1. It is most likely that this is a phase.

It’s a vicious cycle, where you have trouble once, and it’s so uncomfortable that when you’re in a sexual situation you are thinking about your dick not inflating rather than how much fun you’re going to have. Which is of course not very sexy so then it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. Once you break the cycle, it’s unlikely to come back.

2. Your dick is counterintuitive.

For most problems, being happy with the status quo is not the solution. Most problems need to be acknowledged as problems before we’re able to tackle them.

But your dick is different. Oddly, the less you care about whether it works, the more likely it is to work. It’s the anxiety over whether it works or not that’s making it fail. Once it no longer has the power to determine how much fun you have, it’ll start cooperating.

3. Women don’t care about your dick.

I would rather do anything than play with your limp dick. Give it a few seconds and if it’s not happening, just put it away. I won’t miss it. There’s a whole world of sex acts that don’t involve a dick. Pretend you’re a lesbian. To be honest, it’ll probably the most fun she’s ever had. Men are so quick to want to put it in. I’m not even close to ready! Not having to put off your dick, not mess with it, or cater to it, or worry about it, how great. To pretend it’s not there would be the best ever.

Here’s the trick though. You have to put it away MENTALLY. It’s not fun if you’re going down on me but I know you’re just thinking about your dick. Think about my vag when you’re down there. Don’t be distracted.

4. Expectations kill erections

You can’t get an erection because you’re scared. And you’re scared because you have expectations. You want to please her. You want to give her an orgasm. You want to perform. And that looks like a certain thing.

Letting go of expectations will make the whole experience much more fun. We live in a goal-oriented society. You are supposed to go into everything with goals and a gameplan. But sex is different. Having a goal and a gameplan takes your head out of the game. It takes you from the present into the future. It creates anxiety, because it’s not enough to be doing things, you’ve got to be doing things the right way.

There is no right way to fuck. There is no goal. You’re just there, with another person, doing fun things. Which things are fun will change from encounter to encounter, moment to moment. You just have to go with it. Be open to trying new things, be genuinely okay with it when those things don’t work.

I make sex a lot more fun for myself when I let myself fail. Or, to reframe it, when I realize that there’s no failing because failure requires a goal. When I get into a position I don’t like, I have more fun if I just change right away. If I find myself drying up, I have more fun when I stop and spit or reach for lube. If I find myself tiring out, I have more fun if I take his dick out and ask him to use his hand for a minute. That seems so obvious but I naturally feel somewhat ashamed about not enjoying everything. Especially everything “normal.” Like, I’m supposed to like being fingered hard, right? Well, I don’t. I’m supposed to enjoy it when a guy lasts a long time. For 99% of my sexual encounters, I want like 5 minutes tops of straight in and out. Accepting that I don’t like being fucked like a girl on PornTube (though I do want to look that skinny and for my makeup to be that lasting) was oddly difficult but very liberating.

Sex, for me, is best when I’m connecting with my partner. Which requires that I be fully present. Which requires that I let go of gameplans and expectations and goals.

5. None of this is easy.

Oh, just forget about your problems, don’t have any goals, let go of expectations, be fully present, and be genuinely okay with whatever happens. No problem, right?

No. None of it is easy. It’s all hard. It’s all a journey. I’m still working on it. I get anxious around sex. I get anxious around everything.

Here’s an exercise to try.

One way to learn to be present is to make it a habit to check in with your emotions.

When you’re not aware of how you feel, you operate in a fog of confusion. Your feelings are impacting how you see the world, but in a way that you can’t tell. You see the limp dick, but you don’t see the anxiety that caused it.

When you are thinking about a sexual encounter, take a second to think about how you feel. Name all your feelings. Examine them as objectively as possible. At the very least, it will distract you from worrying about whether your dick will work, because you’ve moved the conversation one step higher in your mind. In this way you are being fully present with yourself. Your attention isn’t split between your anxiety and someone else. When you get your own feelings sorted, then you can forget about yourself long enough to be present with someone else.


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