Sextion: Why is he going soft?

Conversations with my guy friends at Brown reveal a surprising statistic: 100 percent of them have perfect sex lives, make their partners orgasm every time, and never finish before 60 minutes. This is in stark contrast to the men I’ve slept with — 0 percent of whom fit this same bill. I’d love to believe my guy friends, but I’ve got this nagging suspicion that something’s up. I’m not sure why — call it social pressure or self-consciousness — but the point is, guys aren’t coming out with it.

I don’t mean to downplay the seriousness. When problems down there do happen — as they will to us all at some point in our sex lives — it can be embarrassing and frustrating. Probably the scariest problem for a guy in bed is going soft. This problem can tug on a guy’s deepest psychological strings and make him feel like he’s “not a man.” No fears, gentlemen! The first step is recognizing that this same issue has happened to every single man in the history of the universe (according to a fictitious survey I did dating 10,000 BC–present). The second step is better understanding what’s going on down there. There are tons of reasons why you might be finding yourself going soft like a pretzel, so read on to discover more.

Physiological: a.k.a. erectile dysfunction, loss of your hard stuff happens because of low testosterone levels or the narrowing of blood vessels to carry blood down there. However, if you are under the age of 70, it is less likely that this is your problem. Usually only in cases of traumatic accidents or severe injury to the brain or penis is this seen in young men.

Solution? Talk to your doctor about possible medications or rehabilitation.

Performance Anxiety: Probably the most likely culprit of losing a hard-on, performance anxiety can be a real tricky one to tackle. Why? When it happens, it leads to a vicious self-fulfilling prophecy. You’re soft because you’re nervous about pleasing your partner. And when it happens again, it only makes you more nervous about pleasing your partner.

Solution? In my experience, you’re best off addressing the problem head-on (no pun intended). Talk to your partner about what’s happening. Ask him/her to be patient as you figure things out. Spend some time fondling and cuddling — anything that will allow you to stay hard without worrying about “performing” for anyone. When you decide you’re ready to try again, do it in a comfortable setting. Think nice dinner, a little wine and some candlelight.

Drugs and alcohol – Some medications can cause loss of erection, but the most common culprit in college is alcohol. Though your brain wants to party all night, your little guy is ready to hit the sack.

Solution? Pretty simple: try to drink less. You may be drinking so much because you are self-conscious about approaching a partner sober. You may have to start asking yourself some of those tougher questions about how you’re feeling and why. After all, you’re in college and a big boy now.

Putting on condoms – a.k.a. “condom collapse syndrome.” Many men complain about the severe loss of sensation caused by protection. You’ll notice this as a slow loss of erection a few minutes into the deed. More common though is a psychological, rather than physical barrier (pun intended). This is the case when the male instantly loses an erection immediately after touching the wrapper or hearing the word “condom.”

 Solution? Thinner condoms might help. Try to avoid plucking those free ones off your RA’s door unless you’re in a jam. You’ll save $5 but they’re quite thick, so it might be difficult for the sensation-inclined.

If you’re experiencing a psychological issue, practicing the action of putting them on might help too. Finally, try not to lose the mood. You may want to ask your partner to touch him/herself next time you’re pulling it out of the wrapper.

Although it might seem like the most obvious answer, try to resist the urge to say “&#!@ it!” and tear the condom off. At least wait until both you and your partner have been tested, discussed monogamy and (if you’re in heterosexual relationship) started birth control.

For many guys, going soft feels like the end of the world. Why? Because in our society, penises are supposed to perform. This is the male: he is strong and powerful. He discovered fire and invented the wheel. He jumps around like a chimp, beats his chest. In porn, he is supposed to finish all over a million girls’ faces and leave every one begging for more. But these male stereotypes don’t capture what men really are in bed — human beings, vulnerable to self-consciousness, doubt and a desire to please the person they’re with.


  1. Mark

    Excellent article and you’ve covered most of the common issues that we men face sometime. Thanks

  2. Tim

    Thanks, this is a really good article. I had this issue with condoms, and I got really mad and did exactly what you said: shout and throw away the condom and be really upset, because I felt hurt in my manhood. But that didn’t help at all, as you probably have guessed already. So I trained myself step by step (I actually started masturbating with condoms) and now I’m totally fine with them.

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