About Last Night: Be patient with yourself and your partner in new sexual relationship 28-10-18

November 14, 2018

Q: At 46, I am no athlete but I am reasonably fit, although I could lose a few kilos. Since my divorce I’ve had some sexual relationships, with mixed results. Although my ex and I didn’t have a lot of sex, when we did I had no trouble performing, but I’ve been unable to “rise to the occasion” with some recent lovers, even when I find them very attractive. This is embarrassing, and I notice I’ve started to worry about this when sex seems likely. How can I stop this from becoming a real issue?

A: It is not unusual for men over 45 to start to notice some decline in their sexual function. In order to eliminate the possibility of this being a symptom of an underlying health issue, such as vascular disease, it would be a good idea to see your doctor for a thorough health check. If you get the medical all clear you can then focus on other factors that might be contributing to this situation.

You and your ex partner had a relationship that broke down, but you did have the benefit of familiarity and a certain security. Starting new sexual relationships means stepping into unknown territory, which is daunting.

With a new person it is not always easy to be yourself. You want to give a good impression, you want to be able to live up to what you think the woman is expecting, even though she might not be thinking what you imagine.

When the anxiety kicks in take some slow, deep breaths, and bring your attention to your feet. This will bring you back into your body in this moment. You cannot be swept away with passion when your analytical mind is in control, or the “flight or fight” reflex has kicked in.

Men are often goal-oriented, but try not to get fixated on penetration and orgasm. The encounter will be more enjoyable for both of you if you can savour every part of the sensual journey. For many women penetration is not the most pleasurable part of sex.

Few people are athletes, and many of us are sedentary, and overweight. This can negatively affect our mood and our energy levels. Make a point of eating a healthier diet, and take some exercise, even if it is only some brisk walks. This will help with the anxiety, and improve your overall body function. Now is the time to “use it or lose it”.

Your psychological health can also affect your sexual life, so take steps to eliminate your stressors. The divorce process is stressful, and there can be a lot of blame, and much focusing on the other person’s faults. Now is the time to identify, and own, your own failings and issues. If you find this overwhelming, a professional counsellor or therapist might be helpful.

To fully enjoy a sexual relationship you need to communicate with your partner. Most women do not expect a man to be a superhero, and many find that their hearts open to someone who can be honest, and show their vulnerability.

If you are in the habit of masturbating frequently, try abstaining for a while. Too much stimulation from porn and fantasy can be desensitising, leaving you jaded. Allow your sexual energy to build up, and savour experiencing desire.

If you are the sexual partner of someone who is having difficulties, try to be patient and reassuring. Chastising or criticising them will only make things worse. Let them know what attracts you to them. Tell them how good they make you feel. Listen carefully to what they say, without offering suggestions or dismissing their fears. Sex works best when there is trust.

There is a popular misconception that a man gives a woman an orgasm, but you are responsible for your own orgasms. Every woman is different, so you need to know what works for you in order to be able to guide a partner. Practising having orgasms on your own will help you to better understand how your body works.

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