I once dated a guy who didn't try to do any more than kiss me for the first six weeks we were dating. It's something I'd never experienced before, and kind of made me freak the eff out. After six weeks of waiting, the first time we tried having sex, he just couldn't get an erection. The same thing happened the second time. And the third. It just kept happening. I worried that he wasn't attracted to me, that he just wasn't that into me — all of the awful things.
Honestly, it was awkward. There's no getting around it. You move toward a big buildup, and then things just ... don't ... happen. Sometimes you may just call it a night, but sometimes you may keep trying and get frustrated, and both of you end up feeling kind of sh*tty. But it doesn't mean that your sex life or your relationship is doomed.
I've found that the best thing to do is to try not to make a big deal out of it, but it's not always that simple. You want to sort out why, and help them. But there are loads of different reasons that guys can't get it up sometimes. Sometimes it can be as simple as everyone's favorite, whiskey dick, and sometimes there are medical circumstances. But a lot of the time, it's just performance anxiety. Which was true in my case, but it's really hard to just accept it as that, and not make a bigger thing out of it.
Here's what I learned from having sex with a guy who couldn't get an erection. Because you really have to put your ego to the side.
1. Know That It's Not You
This is so much easier said than done. Seriously, I was not great at this. After it happened on a few different days, I went into a spiral of assuming it was that he wasn't attached to me, and that we should just end it. But there are a million reasons it can happen, and all of them aren't you. I try to remind myself that it's pretty egocentric to assume that it's all to do with me, and to keep some perspective.
2. Be Patient
Sometimes, you have to try a few different things, or just give your partner some time to relax enough. A lot of the time, it has to do with nerves, and if you can get to the point where those calm down and he feels comfortable, you may see some improvement. But ...
3. Admit When It's Not Going To Happen
Sometimes it's not going to happen, and you shouldn't force it. If it's really just not happening and you keep trying over and over, you're just going to end up with both of you worked up and feeling crappy. Sometimes, you simply let it go, focus on you, or even just get some cuddle time instead.
I would always try to transition into something else we both enjoyed doing. Either we'd continue to fool around (there are lots of fun sex acts with no erection needed!), or maybe just watch our favorite TV show, or chat. For someone like me, who can be a bit sex-obsessed, it actually meant we had a much stronger foundation for a relationship. We didn't spent our whole honeymoon phase doing it.
4. It's Not Necessarily Permanent
So this was probably the biggest thing I learned. After three or four nights of not being able to get or maintain an erection, suddenly it switched. Like, overnight. He was nervous, he had some big mental block. But as soon as he got over it, we basically f*cked like rabbits for months, and the erectile dysfunction literally never happened again. As much as I panicked at first and read it as a terrible omen for our sex life, those first few attempts were genuinely not at all a reflection on anything that happened afterward.
5. You've Got To Be Mature
All of the things above are important, but your attitude is the most important part. I know it's hard not to panic or feel like you've done something wrong. I know it's hard to be patient. But it's not your thing. It's his thing. And you projecting your insecurities onto him is not going to help anything. He's going through something, and chances are that your partner is feeling as awkward/embarrassed/guilty/whatever as you are, and more. Don't add to it. Be relaxed and encouraging, and try to minimize the awkwardness. When I stopped freaking out and got over it, he did too.
6. Listen To Him
Instead of retreating into your own head about it, find out what he needs. If he says it's nothing to do with you, listen. If he wants to try something, try it. If he says he doesn't want to talk about, listen to that, too. Obviously, you should never try or do something you don't feel comfortable with, but in general, trying to figure out what he needs and making the situation as relaxed as possible is the way out.
The first time it happened, I didn't do this. I was convinced that it was me. But once I listened to him, once I was mature and chilled out out about the whole thing, we only had a couple more awkward incidents before it was all up and and running. And it had no long-term effect on our relationship or sex life at all.
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our video on sex positions for small penises:
Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle; Giphy