A Day in the Life of Performance Anxiety: “My fear of not getting an erection made my sex life miserable”

When you’re young and impressionable, there’s a level of self-consciousness that tends to permeate into every aspect of your life. It can be from anything. It can be from your crush telling you you’re ugly. It can be from not being good enough to get into sports. It can be from the pressures and the minefield of young human interaction. Some of us grow out of it. Some of us build external shells to protect us from the things that hurt. Not completely, though. The odd stinging of being rejected or being ridiculed for something you had seemingly no control over will always be around in the back of our mind. On top of that, if the nature of said ridicule is sexual, it can stick to boys like a stain that won’t wash off and eventually turn into gaping anxiety that takes years to undo. Male Performance Anxiety is such an important topic of male self-esteem and how and why it happens and how to deal with it; Read on to learn more.

A Day in the Life of Performance Anxiety - A Day in the Life of Performance Anxiety

Men Have No Guidepost 

Men, and the things that men go through as they age, are very much so dampened and put to the side because, in reality, most people expect men to just know how to be a man. This is true when it comes to how to act, how to talk, how to work, and how to perform sexually. There are so much bad information and horrible influences from immediate access to porn. Most men grow up being introduced to pornography at a very young age. Some of it can leave more sensitive individuals feeling inadequate, insecure, and ultimately self-loathing. These are very real growing pains that we almost never attribute to young men and boys. We always hype the anxieties and insecurities of our female counterparts. Boys are just expected to know how to be solid, confident men, without a roadmap to any of it. That’s what happened to me. Nobody told me how to talk to women or perform in bed. They just kind of let me loose in the world and said: “figure it out, loser.” This, of course, led me down a path of performance anxiety, massive nerves, and a hidden fear that i couldn’t tell anybody about. But before we get further into the anxiety itself, let me tell you about my first sexual experience, over a decade ago. Spoilers: it wasn’t great. 

My First Experience 

When I was fifteen, I spent my summers skateboarding and playing video games. It was before the internet took complete hold of everyone, and the hottest thing on anyone’s phone was a colored picture. iPods were just making their way into the market and all the hipsters had white headphones and cool canvas satchels. That particular summer, there was a house party at my friend Albert’s house. Albert had a brother in college and he invited all the college friends to this massive house party. I was so excited to go. I felt like the coolest high school kid on earth. That night, people were passing beers and cigarettes. These freshmen college kids seemed so much smarter and cultured than me. I had to try and be like that. Over the course of the night, I got to talking to this girl. She was a college freshman. I lied about my age to impress her. I said all the things I thought I should say. She didn’t drink alcohol. It wasn’t her thing. I did, though. I drank an immense amount of alcohol. Later that night, I decided to make a move. It worked. She dragged me to one of the rooms. At that point, I thought that I was going to be masculine and excited. I’m a red-blooded American male. I’m supposed to be able to handle myself in these situations. Needless to say, my immature, drunken, and inexperienced self couldn’t achieve an erection. It just didn’t happen. She walked out of the room both disappointed and ready to tell the world. I could feel it. I sobered up quickly. I began to worry. I couldn’t imagine the whole party knowing that I couldn’t achieve an erection. It was humiliating. I immediately left. As I was walking out the door, I could see her telling her friends, and all of them laughing. It was a low point. It stuck. It stuck for a very long time. That was my first experience. There was nobody helping me. There was nobody telling me what to expect. There was just youth, shame, and the imprint of a moment that had so much weight that it came crashing down into the pit of my stomach. 

Performance Anxiety

After that, I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t mention it to a soul. I just buried it and hoped that the next time would be better. The thing is, sexual imprinting, especially that of shame, sticks well beyond the moment has passed, but us men have no idea how to navigate through it. Who are we supposed to talk to? Our fathers? A priest? Another kid who has no idea what they’re doing? There are no viable options, so we keep it a secret, fearing chastisement and belittlement. My second sexual experience was actually with a woman I was fond of. We were dating for quite a while, and we were getting to that point where we wanted to take things to the physical. It was a normal, happy, and fruitful relationship. That is, up until sex got involved. When we were finally ready to be with each other in that light, my body immediately shut down. I have no idea what happened. It was like the nerves and the purposeful mental avoidance of shame did the opposite and kept me in my head. I couldn’t get past my own negative self talk and I wasn’t able to perform once again. That one hurt. That one kept me up at night. I had no idea that that same thing could happen to a person that I had genuine feelings for. I thought I was broken. Things didn’t work out between us. In fact, after the incident, it got awkward. It got awkward and I started projecting my anger at myself towards her. I knew that it wasn’t her fault. Of course, it wasn’t her fault. But when she asked me if it was her fault, my saying “no” meant nothing. She couldn’t imagine that a guy could have some sort of problem with his penis. A man is supposed to perform, right? Men are dogs, right? Men always want sex and sometimes only want it, right? Well, she couldn’t pass those notions, and I resented her for it. I knew then and there that it wouldn’t work. The relationship was already tainted with that uncertainty. It hurt. It hurt a lot. 

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Photo by Pablo Merchán Montes on Unsplash

In A Bad Place

After that relationship, I was determined to figure out what I could do. I scoured the internet for resources and found a lot of bad information. There were always pills being sold to me through email offers, and I had no idea what was in them. To be honest, I didn’t care. I wanted the problem to be solved and would have done anything to get to the bottom of it. I know now to only use safe cheap viagra, but back then I fell for anything. If it had a rhino on it or a picture of a woman in the throes of passion, I’d buy it. I would buy it and I would take it at any chance I would get. That too was a disaster. The thing about these fake pills and these gas station rhino stuff is that they’re all made in China out of some horrendous ingredients. Nobody knows what is inside them. On top of that, if the company gets caught, they just change the name and sell the same thing. Why do you think there are so many of them? “Rhino 69” and “RhinoMAX” and “RhinoMEN” are all permutations of the same pill from the same set of companies. They’re dangerous. Every time I would take one, I’d have a massive headache. I would feel it coming on and my head would be a mess. I would actually go to parties with this blaring headache and do shots with friends. Imagine that. I was so worried about my sexual performance that I would preemptively take a gas station pill just in case there as a situation that arose that may involve sex. And do you know what? Sometimes it did, and the sex was horrible. It’s impossible to have good sex when your head is throbbing. But to me there is no other option. That was the only thing I could do in order to calm down that massive chunk of anxiety. I wanted women to like me. That’s all I wanted. I just didn’t want to be judged. I wanted to be James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause. I wanted to be Frank Bullitt. I wanted to be Tyler Durden from Fight Club, but all I was was just a lonely, sad kid making pretend. I was in fear of being figured out.

The One

After five straight years of being horribly anxious around sex, I met a wonderful woman. I met someone who would actually listen and work things through. She had been through a string of bad relationships, and so had I. Some of them found out about my dependence on gas station pills and immediately took it as a sign that they were doing something wrong. They were not. But this one was special. We talked about it, and she suggested that I stop using gas station pills and go directly to viagra. She said it without stigma or judgment. She knew this was a hurdle that I was trying to get over and that it was going to take something more scientific and controlled in order to fix it. She mentioned that it didn’t matter to her what it took; she wanted me to be comfortable with myself and comfortable with her. We were past the wildness and randomness of our early twenties. It was a refreshing change for the better. From that point on, I started taking only patently formulated viagra. There are cheaper options online from legitimate sources backed by doctors and clinical research. Because of that, I was able to have a healthy sexual relationship with the woman of my dreams without the feeling of anxiety and judgment. 

“Performance Anxiety” Out Of My Head

Nowadays, I don’t really use viagra as much. I have access and keep a stock of it just in case, but most of the time I don’t really need it. The normalcy and the comfort with my new partner allows me to get out of my head and truly enjoy being with her. To this day, I might fall into some of the pitfalls and old patterns of thinking. If I do, I know that viagra is there to help me get through that rough patch. My partner knows about it, and it’s fine. Once I’m out of it, we can go back to regular, fun, spontaneous, and playful sex. 

I’ve come a long way from that party when I was fifteen. Now that I look back on it, it was not the best choice of my life. It was the worst thing that happened to me at that time. The thing is, it echoed so far into the future that I couldn’t imagine myself having a normal sexual relationship with a person. People don’t talk about that. People don’t really care about the anxieties of young men. That’s not part of the convenient narrative of today. Young male sexuality is, more often than not, portrayed as a problem. Not only that, it’s seen as something we have total grasp and control over. Nothing can be further from the truth. Human beings are complex. Sex is complex. If ever you wanted to know what it’s like to be a teenage boy, it’s like sitting at the very back of the bus while libido is driving, and you don’t know where it’s going, nor does the drive. Sprinkle insecurities and fears about sex, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for an emotionally bumpy ride. Now, though, I don’t have anything to worry about. I’m proud to say that I’ve conquered performance anxiety.