Sexual Performance Anxiety
Are you too body & performance anxious? It’s time to enjoy making love and having beautiful sex, without anxiety.
We are more sexually liberated today than ever, but that liberation comes at a hefty price. We seem to have socialised ourselves, and our men in particular, to look upon sex as a perfornance. The free availability of pornography paints idealised pictures to which people must aspire; smooth bodies, surgically enhanced breasts, perfectly shaped vagina, huge penises and so on. Against such idealised pictures we measure our imperfect selves, and, inevitably, we come up short.
The pressure of performing
Alongside this, pornography presents us with the standard storyline in which these idealised specimens bring each other to orgasmic heights and to which we must also conform. Men who don’t last the distance or who cannot ‘get it up’ are failures in their own eyes. According to recent surveys, around 30% of men have experienced some form of premature ejaculation, and around 8% from ‘delayed ejaculation’ – not being able to reach orgasm during sex. When men come to me with sexual performance anxiety, I like to point out that we need to lose this notion that we have to be perfect, and we have to perform. We don’t – we simply have to recognise that we are human, and that sex should be about shared intimacy and mutual support.
The price of sexual liberation
In the past 50 or so years we have come such a long way in our attitudes to sex. We are much more open than ever about it. How about the swinging, liberated sixties, you ask? Well, that’s really just a myth. Back in the sixties we were still in the dark ages in terms of sexual attitudes. Birth control was not widely available, homosexuality was illegal, sex before marriage was frowned upon by people who saw themselves as decent and morally upright and unmarried mothers went to homes to give birth to babies that were put up for adoption.
So yes, what a very long way we have come! But look too, at what our liberation has brought us – a kind of cold, clinical, almost mechanical approach where sexual intercourse becomes little more than an exercise in mutual masturbation. In such a context, sex becomes an aggressive encounter. Erectile dysfunction? No problem – viagra will ensure that that the performance can go ahead as planned. But look what we have lost! Tenderness, intimacy, shared vulnerability! All those things that are so natural to us as human beings when we are part of loving relationships.
Nature turned upside down
Channel 4’s latest dating programme ‘Naked Attraction’ may be somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but it’s also symptomatic of today’s mindset – a TV show where you choose a partner by analysing their naked bits. Darren thinks the gap between Blue’s vagina and her thighs isn’t wide enough for good sexual positioning. Katie considers Pink’s testicles to be too small for him to be as macho as she’d like her date to be, and his penis bends too much to the left. I know it’s supposed to be a bit of fun, but really, just how sick have we now become?
Such attitudes are a recipe for unhappiness – I have worked with enough unhappy people to know this for a fact. My work with clients facing sexual performance anxiety centres around relationships and trust. If only more of us could see that having an ‘imperfect’ body is actually perfect. Let’s just take real joy from being who we are, beautiful, warts and all.
Achieving a happy, healthy sexual relationship comes from our ability to look in the mirror and genuinely love who we are. Once we do this, we can recognise that sex has no pattern, no plan and no formula. Anything goes. So get on with it and enjoy the wonderful physical and emotional benefits of satisfying and loving sex!
If you still have concerns then therapy offers a safe and private place to explore Sexual Performance Anxiety. For further information simply contact me on 01438832957