If you’ve tried to tackle your PE but without success, keep the faith. I’ll explain why the things we try don’t work, and what to do about it.
Whenever Jake had sex with his girlfriend Alice, he always felt like he had to play it cool. But under the surface, he wasn’t cool at all. He stressed about not being able to last long before ejaculating, but tried really hard to conceal all this from Alice.
He would keep going for as long as possible after he had come, even when his erection had pretty much disappeared. He would make ‘pornstar’ faces and noises to try to convince them both that he was still going. Internally, he was desperate to get Alice off and put on a ‘successful’ performance.
Sometimes Alice would go along with the routine, moaning and sighing to give him some positive feedback. She never really understood what was going on with Jake, and he never knew whether she had reached orgasm. It was never discussed.
Right after sex, Jake tended to go quiet. He desperately wanted to receive some praise and assurance that everything was ok. “That was amazing” he would sometimes say, digging for a response. Alice would just go about the rest of her day.
“She’s disappointed again”, Jake would tell himself, “and she’s going to leave me if I don’t up my game”. This led to more faking the next time.
What’s going on?
Jake and Alice’s sex life is void of communication. This is not unusual when the sex is insecure and awkward; everyone knows that something isn’t right, but nobody wants to be the one to say it.
Jake clings to the hope that his act is somehow satisfying Alice. But he feels unable to ask, before or after sex. Alice always detects how stressed and awkward he seems. She doesn’t really know what to say that won’t stress him even more.
In a void like this, our imaginations get to work and always negatively. This is our survival instinct at work. Our ancient predecessors were probably less concerned about their partner’s sexual satisfaction. Wild animals and aggressive members of the tribe presented much bigger risks to our status and survival. But in domestic, modern times we scan the horizon for other threats, other risks that we may be cast out of the tribe.
This insecurity makes us hyper-vigilant for threats to the relationship, for signals that we might find ourselves alone. In our imaginations, we assume the very worst outcomes.
And on top of his innate survival instincts, Jake genuinely wants Alice to experience orgasms too. He’s not selfish – he’s insecure and embarrassed. All of this ramps up stress levels around sex, trapping us in a loop of dodging an essential conversation and trying to fake our way through it.
No wonder Jake feels stressed. Like thousands of other men, he lives these fears every day.
What works better?
When I’m working with guys in this situation, I encourage a shift in perspective. To counter those old survival fears, it helps to remind ourselves that sex is a regular, positive activity. It’s like laughing, eating, sleeping, sharing. It’s about having fun and spending time with our partners.
Sex is not the ultimate challenge, the ultimate test of our masculinity and ability to attract a partner. When men convince themselves that they need to put on a special performance rather than be themselves, sex becomes less fun and authentic for everyone involved. It becomes a block to the relationship rather than a beautiful component.
Another way to dial down all those negative imaginings is to focus on what she wants. If we’re stuck in the insecurity loop, we make all kinds of presumptions about what she expects from sex. Here’s a reality check: she wants connection not perfection.
She wants to have fun with you. She wants you to be present and intimate with her, during and after sex. There is such a thing as good enough sex.
Faking and acting isn’t being present. In this mode, we’re more connected to our fears than the woman in front of us. And when sex finishes, scanning for signals isn’t being present either. Our desperation for assurance makes us jumpy and kills any sensual, shared afterglow.
So we can see that the pursuit of some imaginary, presumed sexual perfection is pretty much the exact opposite of what our partners desire. Remember that she inevitably has her own insecurities around sex too. Women often worry about their appearance, body image and age a lot more than men do. When sex happens in a communication void, her fears will dominate her experience too.
Takeaway tip: No amount of ‘performance’ will ever be a substitute for communication. Don’t be afraid to openly express your concerns about not lasting long enough. Reframe this as a compliment to your relationship; you want to work together with her so that you both get the most from sex. Listen to her feedback and learn all the things that she enjoys. During sex, let her know how you feel and when you need to change things up. This is key to becoming sexually adept.
Jake’s first realisation was that he wasn’t alone with this problem. Yes, sex was an important part of his relationship and both he and Alice deserved much more fulfilling experiences. But the pressure and expectation wasn’t all on Jake to ‘deliver’.
Once they opened up the conversation and understood each other more, both Jake and Alice felt a huge sense of relief. Sure it was a bit awkward and difficult to find the words at first, but Jake soon got over that.
Neither of them needed to fake anything in bed, which introduced a lot more closeness and creativity into their relationship. Jake also dropped his habit of fretting after sex and scanning for reassurance. They enjoyed an ongoing conversation about their desires and ideas. With the spotlight of attention taken off ‘performing’ and pretending to be in control, Jake noticed that he lasted longer too.