Almost all the men I spoke with about DE talked about feeling nervous, dealing with anxiety or combatting shame—not a single one said that their inability to finish had anything to do with how attracted they were to their partner. One dude I spoke with said it always takes him forever to finish. In the process he gets so worried about hurting his partner that he gets too much into his head, which then made it even more impossible for him to finish. “Sex is absolutely impacted by mindset for men,” Gallop says. “Just the way women are impacted by it.”
I couldn’t have orgasms well into my 30s because I had a trauma I hadn’t dealt with. “Orgasm is about surrendering,” Skyler says. “With women, the vaginal walls will close down. Sometimes it’s guarding and protecting her from either the person in the room or from someone in her past.” I get this: I never trusted men enough to surrender, so it wasn’t until I dealt with my issues head on with specialists that I could finally let down both my vaginal and metaphoric walls.
It’s not just about some hidden sexual trauma or deep-seated phobia, however, Skyler adds. Something as commonplace as a fear of commitment can create a roadblock to orgasm. I was terrified of commitment until my 30s, which might explain why I never had a problem orgasming with a one-night stand but couldn’t seem to finish once a fling showed signs of turning into a relationship. It never occured to me that the men in my life might be having the same issue. With one old hookup, I used to have marathon sex (the kind that left me barely able to walk the next day), but once we became closer, he started to have issues with ejaculating inside me. At the time it baffled me, and I blamed myself. But now it makes sense—his body, like mine years ago, was saying a hard no to surrendering.
So What Do We Do About It?
All of the specialists I spoke with, as well as the men I interviewed, made one thing clear: A dude’s inability to finish is much more likely to be about him than it is about you.
So what’s to be done? Most men who struggle with delayed ejaculation can benefit from talking to a pro, Skyler says. “This is one of those issues they could explore on their own and if it’s a light issue, that can work. But I find that delayed ejaculation is one of the trickiest,” she says. “The body has to be retrained.”
When I told her about my striptease, she said my hookup’s behavior wasn’t all that strange. ”With DE, the [treatment] protocol is for a man to have sex, and when he’s close to having an orgasm, to pull out, then keep at it.” Eventually, she says, he’ll pair the two actions, making it easier for him to finish the old fashioned way.
When you’re in this situation with a partner, don’t internalize it or blame yourself: This is not a negative performance review. Instead, stop focusing on orgasm as the goal, Skyler says. “If we don’t make sex a performance and orgasm the goal, and instead enjoy it for the experience that it is,” she says, “then we don’t have the pressure and anxiety.”
In my last several years on Tinder, I have realized that a lot of men avoid in-person hookups. If I send them a sexy picture or engage in sexting, they’ll almost always stay home and masturbate instead of meeting up. I thought this was because they’re lazy (and some are!) or because my vagina can’t compete with their death grips, but that’s far too simplistic. Men are dealing with a lot of pressure, self-doubt, shame, fear and insecurities that get in their way—just like the rest of us.