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The Sex Doc is now a daily! Check back here every day for a new question. Have one for Dr. Debby Herbenick of the Kinsey Institute? Send it anonymously here. 

I am a 41 year old straight male and I haven't had sex since my late teens. Even then, it was only a few times and not pleasant. It just felt awkward and I could only get half-erect and never finish. Over the years, I have dated off and on but I always ended it before it became too physical, usually within 3-4 dates, until eventually I gave up. Oddly enough, I am not shy or lack confidence normally. I find dating rather easy actually. But anything more than kissing and I panic. Any suggestions?

Sarah: Do you want to have sex? In other words, have you investigated your desire and sex drive before judging the bejeesus out of yourself for not having had a lot of sex in your lifetime? If you replaced “sex” with “going to music festivals” in this question, my answer would be, “Stop buying tickets to music festivals. You don’t like them. You’re an LPs-at-home guy, and that’s totally cool.” And about these dates, are you actually building the interpersonal intimacy necessary to bridge the gap into physical intimacy? Or are you showing up in a nice shirt and reminding yourself constantly to look interested and keep asking questions? A lot of people are great at acting like a “good date” based on TV and movie tropes, and a lot of people are “good at sex” in the same manner. The thing that makes it real-life great is building emotional intimacy, vulnerability, and being genuinely open to making a connection with another person. And no matter what your “tissue issues” are, the input of a trained therapist or counselor is invaluable when sorting out these kinds of things. It’s all good, man. Everyone could use a shrink.

Debby: Sarah asks a good question. Do you want to have sex? And, if so, do you want to have sex with adult women (presumably that’s who you’re dating since you said you’re a straight man)? Some people feel more “asexual” than sexual and don’t feel that attracted to other people. Others feel very averse to sexual behaviors - truly grossed out or panicky about sex - often because of a strict or shameful religious, cultural, or family approach to sex. Other times, that early awkwardness gets in the way. If you want to explore this further, you can find a sex therapist through the Society for Sex Therapy and Research (sstarnet.org) or local sex coach extraordinaire, Kathleen Baldwin (tellkathleenanything.com). 

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