I've recently gotten into a nice relationship with a really great guy. We have a lot of fun together and nice chemistry. But I've been a little surprised that he's had some issues getting hard and staying hard. We are both young college-age kids in good health. I've been patient and creative and fun in the sack, but I'm concerned. I don't think it's me, and he seems just as perplexed as I do, especially when blowjobs do the trick, but not for intercourse. He's even gone flaccid inside you know where, which was a disappointing fake-out. I'm wondering if his recent omission of meat and dairy from his diet could be a factor? He also tends to pre-cum a lot, so is there a leaky pipe? He's a great guy regardless, but we've had more failures than successes, and I'd like a fuller, more intimate relationship. Help!
— Dying for More
Wait, you actually think meat and dairy will give him a pole you can fly a flag off? Girl, you fell off the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down. To paraphrase Olympia Dukakis in Moonstruck, "What you don't know about men is a lot."
Take, for instance, your suspicion that pre-cum is a sign of a leaky pipe. WRONG. "Pre-ejaculatory fluid" is a clear liquid bubbling up from the penis when men get sexually aroused. The quantity varies from zero to several drops depending on the man and the situation.
You know what happens when somebody puts a big T-bone steak in front of you when you're hungry? Well, the same thing happens to a man's penis when you put a ripe peach in front of it — it salivates. His pre-cum is a sign that he's sexually aroused by you.
No one really knows the purpose of pre-cum. Some experts believe it "washes out" leftover urine in the urethra so that it doesn't kill sperm during ejaculation (urine contains acid).
One thing I can tell you for certain: You are not to blame. It has nothing to do with you, the way you look, or how much you turn him on. It has everything to do with his hang-ups about intercourse.
Just like some men have "ejaculatory inhibition" (they can't orgasm during intercourse), some men have what might be called "erection inhibition." Note that his inability to get or stay hard happens during intercourse, not oral sex. That's most likely because he's got a powerful, subconscious fear that intercourse will lead to a complete loss of emotional control.
For a more thorough explanation of what I just said, check out my column on "ejaculatory incompetence" here.
Basically, your boyfriend suffers from a subconscious fear that says, "If we have intercourse I will lose myself to her, I'll be her slave, I won't have any control over my life. I can protect myself by having everything else but intercourse."
His subconscious fear is subverting his conscious desire. He wants to make love to you in the worst way, but his subconscious won't let him. Sex therapists see this kind of problem a lot. Luckily, they have a terrific success rate. Once they bring the subconscious fears to the surface, you can then deal with them rationally.
Right now, he's thinking, "I can't." With a little therapy, he'll realize that "I can't" is actually "I won't." And once that happens he can consciously undo the decisions made by his subconscious.
Until he can get therapy, I'd make an agreement not to have intercourse. On top of everything else, he now feels enormous performance anxiety. Take it off the table so he can relax and avoid making every session an event of anticipatory anxiety.
Got a burning or a why-is-it-burning question for the Sexorcist? Email him at email@example.com. Mike Alvear is the author of a line of Meet The Hottie In The Corner and teaches monthly blogging workshops with Hollis Gillespie.