Why Men Who Can't Come Feel Anxiety
Stereotypes about manhood and orgasms
Men are seen as sexually simple creatures who orgasm easily – they’re not. Men, like people of all gender identities, are complex, and things like difficulty reaching orgasm happens to them too (despite what pop culture will have you believe).
Orgasms are seen as an important part of sex – be it through partnered sex or masturbation. Because of the way the male orgasm is portrayed in society, not being able to come can lead to worry and anxiety.
Anxiety is something we sex therapists see time and again in clients who have difficulties climaxing – and in my opinion, this often can be tied back to sexual ideals that box in male sexuality.
This article will key you in on the three main ideals about male sexuality that make orgasm difficulties a source of anxiety – and why these ideals aren’t true.
How We View Male Orgasms
1) The Male Orgasm As The End Of Sex
Men’s orgasms are often seen as the sexual finale – the end of a sexual encounter. This becomes especially apparent in heterosexual relationships, where a couple will often continue having sex until the man has come, and then stop, regardless of whether the woman has had an orgasm or not.
A lot of clients I see as a sex coach and therapist, have a hard time “finishing” sex, if the male partner hasn’t climaxed. This leads to immense anxiety for both parties when the orgasm is absent.
The partner feels like they’ve somehow failed – that they’re not attractive or not good in bed. In turn, the man feels like he is a failure. None of this is true. Male difficulty reaching orgasm isn’t a failure, and it happens because of lots of different factors, including difficulties communicating sexual preferences.
2) The Male Orgasm As Proof Of Pleasure
Not only are male orgasms often seen as the grand finale – they’re often taken as the ultimate proof that pleasure has taken place.
Because men’s orgasms often are visual in nature, it can become more obvious if an orgasm has taken place or not. This also gives the male climax a certain symbolic value, turning it into the ultimate proof that pleasure has taken place.
Male orgasms are also seen as a sign of power and virility, which played out in pornography and other media. In a way, they’re a perfect culmination of the way we view men’s libido – as raging and ever constant (even if it isn’t). And when you can’t climax – you can’t fulfill these seemingly common male ideals.
But sex without orgasms doesn’t have to mean less pleasure. And when you’re able to let go of orgasm as the goal of sex – you usually enjoy sex more.
3) The Male Orgasm As A Sign Of Masculinity
When I studied to become a sex therapist, I interviewed men for my dissertation about their experiences of low libido in long-term relationships.
It quickly became clear to me, that difficulties living up to the masculine ideal of being a “real” man who wants sex often – exacerbated low sex drive.
And even if a lot of research has yet to confirm the effects of social and cultural ideals on male sexuality, it’s clear in my practice – that they do, and that orgasm difficulties lead to ideas of being unmanly.
You’re not. And these narrow ideas, often perpetuated by media, lead to unnecessary pain and anguish.
Boxing In Male Sexuality
The way we as a culture view male sexuality, impacts sexual pleasure negatively and creates confined spaces wherein sexuality should exist.
When our sexuality gets boxed in, it can be difficult to be present in the moment and actually enjoy sex. Instead – you may find yourself focusing on what you think you should be doing or experiencing, such as having an orgasm.
And when your focus is on who you should be and what you should achieve – instead of enjoying sex – this inevitably leads to anxiety – during sex, before sex and after sex.
This can manifest itself physically, through an elevated pulse and pressure on your chest, but also mentally, through negative thoughts milling around your mind.
Men I’ve seen in my private practice tell me they’re on hyper alert during sex, for signs their partner is getting bored, signs it’s taking too long, and signs their erection is faltering.
The constant anxiety pumping around their bodies makes it difficult to feel turned on or excited about the situation, causing sex to become more of a project than a pleasurable experience.
Difficulty Reaching Orgasm Is Complex
Orgasm difficulties in men are a complicated issue as they bring up questions of masculinity and what it means to be a man who cannot come during sex.
Male orgasms are lots of things:
- They’re seen as the natural end of sexual encounters,
- Viewed as proof of pleasure having taken place,
- Experienced as a sign of masculinity and virility
Because of the pressure we place on male orgasms to fulfill so many roles and be so many things, not climaxing can lead to anxiety.
If this is you, or your partner, I want you to know that orgasming isn’t proof of your manliness.
If you want to take the first step towards actually coming, reducing the pressure to orgasm is the best strategy to adopt.
This leads to more sexual arousal and a higher sex drive – ultimately, sex that feels good. And the only kind of sex really worth having, is the kind you enjoy – orgasms or not.
Leigh Norén is a sex therapist with a Master of Science in Sexology. She helps people reduce stress, shame, & anxiety surrounding sex-so they can get their sex drive back and enjoy their partner again. If you want to increase your desire, download her free resource The Desire Test.
Originally published at Therapy by Leigh.