(The author wishes to clarify that the article talks specifically about men with penises, not to be trans exclusionary, but since he identifies as cis male. He does not wish to appropriate experiences of men who do not have penises. ‘Men with penises’ includes cis, trans and intersex men of all sexualities whose sex life involves penetrative intercourse.)
In my previous article – I talked about how performance pressure is often caused by feeling responsible for your partner(s)’s sexual satisfaction in an unhealthy way that leaves us feeling like a failure for the least bit of underperformance. In order to overcome performance pressure we have to try and unlearn certain myths about sex that we have unconsciously held on to, and hold us back. Here, I try to unpack and debunk some of the most compelling ones.
Myth 1: Sex begins and ends with the dick.
No, it doesn’t. Sadly, since porn has been the greatest teacher of sex education for a lot of us, it is absolutely understandable why we think this way. It is no secret that most mainstream porn videos ‘only really begin’ when the guy whips out his cock and ends when he ejaculates. Sex is not about the penis alone. Penetration with the penis is definitely an important part of sex for a lot of men with penises, but that is not all that sex is.
Sex involves a lot of acts that have nothing to do with penetrative intercourse. Outercourse – frottage, kissing, cuddling, mutual masturbation; fingering, oral sex, toys, the whole universe of sexual acts between partners who do not have penises – all of it and more count as terrific sex. Once we start seeing sex as more than just penetrative intercourse, there is suddenly a wide array of sexual acts that we could engage in to keep us and our partners aroused.
Myth 2: Gotta keep it hard. Gotta keep going on.
Once again, the penis is not the centre of the world and it definitely isn’t the centre of sex. It doesn’t matter if you lose your erection in the middle of sex or ‘too early in the game or whatever. People lose erections for all kinds of reasons. Lack of friction, nervousness, a full bladder, medicines you are taking, too much attention, too little attention, a random stray thought about your neighbour’s puppy… the reasons can be endless. It could also be none at all. Sure, if it is a recurrent pattern, one might want to consult a doctor. But anything less is really not that big a deal. Nor is it anybody’s fault – not our partner’s and definitely not ours.
Dicks do not have to stay hard throughout sex for sex to be pleasurable. There are several other things we ould do while we give us or our partner(s) time to get hard again that is equally or even more pleasurable.
Similarly, there is the all-too-common fear of “Shit. I came too early!”. Once again, it happens sometimes. Let’s not be too harsh on ourselves about it. If it keeps happening all the time, then maybe seek medical help. But sometimes it just happens. And that’s okay.
You are not a bad lover for ejaculating too early, you are a bad lover if you think that that’s the end of sex. Communicate with your partner(s). Maybe they are satisfied and it was just in your head. If not, be willing to help out and pleasure them in ways that do not require a hard dick. And do not feel inadequate for them wanting to pleasure themselves after you have ejaculated.
Myth 3: Size matters.
This is perhaps the biggest of all myths. Every penis is different. Some are thick, some are bent, some are big, some are small, some have a foreskin, some do not. And every penis is amazing and worthy and adequate to have sex. It is not the size of our tool that matters, it is how we use it. And yet again, sex is not about the dick alone – and definitely not about its size alone. Size is only one quality of a dick. Whether it is appealing or not, there are several other equally appealing qualities that make sex great as well.
To draw a crude analogy: a woman with big breasts might be appealing for some. But it is no guarantee that she is great in bed, or that a woman with smaller breasts isn’t. Essentially, what counts is not how individual parts of your body look or feel like – the size of your penis, the shape of your body, facial hair. What counts is how you are receptive, perceptive and responsive in bed.
Myth 4: I have to be better than her other partners.
Whether you are hooking up or in a monogamous relationship with a person who has had a sexual history that predates yours or a polyamorous relationship with someone who has other partners or are part of a gangbang, SEX IS NOT A COMPETITION. It never is. There is no way in which we can objectively assess sex or keep performance indicators on it, or have a panel of judges tell us how well we scored. Sex is as much about the act as it is about the mood, the setting, the vibe, the time, the place and several other factors. Let go of the non-existent competition and enjoy sex. As long as it is consensual and communicative, all sex is good sex.
Final Word: Consent and Communication.
If there are two essential attributes to sex, that is both necessary and sexy – it is consent and communication. Communicating openly with our partner(s) can be extremely liberating and makes the sex so much more satisfying. Whether you are taking a directional role or not, it is good to know what they like and dislike, what works for them and what doesn’t and what to call them in bed, what not to say and so on. And communication can happen before, during and after sex. Asking if we may do something, or if something we did felt good for them or even vocalising our needs and what is working for us can make sex a lot more pleasurable experience. And it could also definitely reduce performance pressure and anxiety.
Good communication, self-assurance and confidence in your sexiness – no matter what you look like, or how ‘hung’ you are, coupled with a realisation that the dick is not the beginning and end of sex (and an enviable armoury of sexual acts apart from penetrative intercourse) is all you need to beat performance pressure. You got this!