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A PE paradox: I last longer when I stop trying

As soon as Will wants to come, it takes him longer. Understand how this discovery can be super useful for guys with premature ejaculation.

Will writes:

OK deep breath… I just know this is going to be super-TMI but I wanted to ask about this thing I experience. Here goes…

I’m 33 years old, healthy and fit, married and always had the habit of coming too fast. Usually within 1 to 1.5 minutes I estimate. I give foreplay and oral and would say that sex with my wife is still good, but we both know it could be a hell of a lot better. My cock feels sensitive to all kinds of touch, always has done.

I follow the advice about using jerking off to practise slowing down, stopping when I feel close to the edge. Following advice you wrote, I also stopped jerking off to porn. That surely helped me notice this thing about my own body.

Here’s the thing… sorry about the TMI… I jerk off laying back on the bed, super relaxed. Often I get close to coming and I have to take a break. When I start again, it’s maybe 30 seconds or a minute before I have to stop again. It goes like this, like a constant battle to stop myself ejaculating and be more relaxed.

Then when I’ve had enough and decide it’s time to come, I stand up and walk into the bathroom. I open the toilet seat with one hand and aim right into the toilet, as I don’t want to make a mess.

I’ve noticed that this final part of the act always takes longer. It’s like I need to jerk for another 2 or 3 minutes without stopping in order to come. Sometimes I swear it’s longer. I’m still hard and I’m still turned on, I just seem to be able to last.

What gives? I want to just capture that state and be able to get into it when I have sex. Should I try dragging my wife into the bathroom next time…

Interested to hear what you think if you have time. Good website btw, I can tell that you get it.

Thanks Will for getting in touch, and please don’t worry. It’s helpful to get into the nitty gritty. In fact, this whole website is powered by TMI.

The phenomenon you describe is interesting, isn’t it? I have a few thoughts about what might be going on, and the useful takeaways for guys wanting to last longer on demand.

Firstly, you described how you physically move from one state to another. You get up off the bed, walk into the bathroom and finish off standing up.

This changes your physiology: movement, blood flow and muscle activation. I recommend switching positions during sex for exactly this purpose. We naturally last longer when we’re relaxed, and particularly when muscles in our lower body are less tense.

Some sex positions demand more from these muscles than others (I’m looking at you, missionary position). Some guys don’t know how to move optimally in these positions, thrusting in an awkward and tense way that fast-tracks them to ejaculation (that’s not a criticism, they’ve just never been shown how to move).

And whether we have the skills or not, sticking in any position for too long (even laying down) will build up tension. So it makes sense to switch things up physically. Not only does it make sex more interesting for everyone involved, we get a mini-break while we make the change. Porn actors do all the positions for these same reasons.

Then there’s the shift in your attention. One minute you are laying on the bed that you associate with sex and sleep. Next minute you are looking at the toilet, with a completely different set of associations.

It’s a bit like the old trick of thinking about football teams or maths during sex. Deliberately distracting ourselves can shrink our erections a bit, but it risks killing them off completely. Plus when we’re forcing ourselves to think in this way, we’re not really embracing the moment or vibing with our partners.

So it’s quite possible that the toilet factor is helping you to prolong the action, but I wouldn’t recommend carrying this over to your sex life. There are better approaches, trust me.

And then there’s the shift in your intention that occurs as you enter that bathroom. When you are edging away in the bedroom, you are committed to relaxing and avoiding orgasm for as long as possible. Just as you say, it can feel like we’re battling with our own bodies.

But as soon as you approach that toilet, you stop trying. You enter a different headspace and your physiology responds in an unexpected way: everything relaxes and ejaculation feels much less imminent.

If you’ve owned a cat, you’ll know how they sometimes go nuts at the back door to be let inside. Yet as soon as you approach the door and open it, the cat just stands there looking at you. “Are you coming in or not?”, you debate with your cat.

Your penis can be similarly contrary.

In psychological terms, this is known as paradoxical intention. The harder you try to prevent some behaviour, the stronger it seems to become. Try to make that behaviour happen on demand and it never does.

We’ve all experienced this phenomenon in other ways. Like when we’re trying so hard to get to sleep, for example, or trying to push away worries and intrusive thoughts. The same applies to many physical behaviours, such as blushing, sweating, stuttering, hiccupping, laughing and yes, ejaculating.

The famous psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was one of the first to recognise the usefulness of this phenomenon for helping people to overcome difficulties. Deliberately telling ourselves to bring on some unwanted thought or behaviour is now common in mainstream therapies, from the Gestalt method to CBT.

Sex and relationship therapists also use the paradoxical approach to assist guys, whether they struggle to reach orgasm or experience premature ejaculation. For men in the latter camp, the advice is to let go of anxiety and fear by willing themselves to come as soon as possible.

Psychologists don’t fully understand how paradoxical intention works; the influence of the imagination over physiological reflex is complex. But I suspect, Will, that you are experiencing this effect to some extent. You might not be actively willing yourself to ejaculate in your bathroom, but you have opened the door and invited orgasm in.

The takeaway is that you, and every guy reading this post, can experiment further with using this approach. It’s a simple technique that doesn’t always work, but that’s ok too. Anything that positively messes with our experience, routines and mindset around premature ejaculation is useful and builds our self-awareness.

Here are my top tips for getting paradoxical with your PE:

  1. Start messaging your penis right from the outset, as soon as you know you’re going to get laid today. Decide that you want to come quickly.
  2. Enter the spirit of gaming your PE. Ramp up the trash talk. “OK penis, let’s break the world premature ejaculation record… super-lightening fast, you hear me? You’re going to come as soon as you get hard, before you’ve even been touched… let’s do this!”.
  3. Try to really want it, and not just because you read some article by a PE therapist. Be bold and up for it.

All of this may sound ridiculous, I know. CBT therapists spend a lot of time convincing their clients to be open to inviting the very thing that they fear and despise. That’s all part of the paradox.

I’ve seen this approach work, so by all means give it a try. Get creative with it, and don’t stress if it doesn’t seem to work. There are plenty of proven approaches to overcoming PE, and experimentation is key here.

In answer to your other question, Will, sex with your wife in the bathroom (and every other room) is a positive move IMO. Bedrooms can get boring, after all.


If you’d like to ask Jason a question or share your experience, feel free to get in touch.

Disclaimer: this site is run and moderated by Jason Dean, a qualified psychotherapist. But he is not your psychotherapist. All content and comment is an expression of opinion, not a medical diagnosis or consultation.

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