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Having Trouble Getting Hard?


construction signThis is a post I’ve been meaning to write for awhile, and I have to thank my blogger friend Evil Woobie for pushing me to finally write it.

Have you ever found yourself with a girl, things are escalating towards intimacy… and absolutely nothing is going on down there? Or you manage to finally get an erection… only to quickly lose it as you attempt to slide the condom on?

If you haven’t already experienced these situations… chances are you will at some point in your life. I sure have.

I didn’t lose my virginity until my freshman year at college. Because of this I felt apprehensive about hooking up with girls as I imagined them all to be much more experienced than me. I still remember the first night I brought a girl back to my dorm room. There was this exhilarating sense of accomplishment, and at the same time, this paralyzing fear of inadequacy.

I was surprisingly competent at making out, and unhooked her bra with the skill of a pro… but something was noticeably wrong. I didn’t realize exactly how wrong until she reached her hand down my pants. I was completely limp. She fumbled around for a minute before I embarrassingly brought her hand back up to my chest and continued kissing her like nothing happened.

That night was the beginning of my journey on a long and bumpy road to sexual competency.

I knew that physically there was nothing wrong with me… I mean, I was jerking off twice a day… hard as a rock. But the minute I had a girl willing to come back to my place… I would lose all feeling down there.

I wound up in a relationship with a girl from my math class. She was a virgin too. We took it slow in the bedroom and soon I was functioning full strength during make out sessions. We were having marathon foreplay sessions where I would expand so big I felt I could burst…

But then the night came when she decided she was ready to give me her virginity. We went out to dinner, and then a movie. The entire time my mind was racing with anxiety over how well I would perform atla force de l something I’ve waited 18 years to attempt. When we finally got to my place I was a nervous wreck. I managed to fondle myself in the bathroom enough to get it up… but when she handed me a condom to place on my boss… I fizzled away.

My next few attempts ended the same way. It wasn’t until one morning when she climbed on top of me… slid me inside her and starting bouncing up and down… that I finally was able to maintain an erection. Of course, I never got around to putting a condom on.

For the rest of our relationship I never wore a condom because I saw it as Kryptonite to my erection. My girlfriend went on the pill… so all was well.

After we broke up I entered the hell of erectile dysfunction all over again. By this time I was tearing it up with the girls on my campus. But I was very rarely closing the deal with them. Mainly because I feared going for the homerun… only to fail.

What I learned about my experience with limp dick

1. It most often happened in experiences where there was a built up pressure involved. The more time I had to prepare for the sexual encounter… the more anxiety I felt. And the more anxiety I felt… the less chance I would get or maintain an erection.

2. I found it almost impossible to put on a condom without losing or at least greatly diminishing my erection.

3. The less comfortable I was with the girl… the less chance of success in the bedroom. This meant that if I could make it past the first few mishaps with a girl… it would be smooth sailing from there on out.

4. Alcohol in small doses helped the problem. Alcohol in large doses made me lose all sensitivity down there.

5. The girls I had the best sex with were the ones I felt no pressure to perform well… i.e.) fat girls, girls I didn’t want to sleep, girls I wasn’t supposed to sleep with.

6. Herbal supplements don’t work. I took Yohimbe, Horny Goat Weed, Ginseng, Man Power, and just about every other over the counter supplement… and none of them made a damn difference.


How I Handled the Problem when it occurred

zach_waterfallIf I didn’t avoid sex completely with a girl… I would prolong it as long as possible with massive amounts of foreplay. If there was still nothing going on down there… I would eat her pussy and call it a night.

If a girl started to reach down there and I wasn’t hard, I would pull her hand away and just pretend that I was teasing her to build anticipation.

Sometimes I would blame it on being “too drunk.” Other times I would blame it on being “stressed out over finals”. Other times I would blame it on “just getting out of a relationship.”

What I did know was that my sexual confidence was completely down the toilet for awhile there.

Road to Recovery

The biggest break through that I had was one day opening up to my friends about my problem. I was amazed to find that pretty much all of them had experienced the problem before. Some of them were even experiencing it as regularly as me. For the first time I felt there wasn’t just something fundamentally wrong with me. That is my biggest inspiration for writing the article; to let anyone going through this know… it isn’t just you.

Once I was armed with the knowledge that other guys have gone through this too… I became a lot less nervous about the situation.

The next biggest breakthrough came with using visualizations. Visualizations are a powerful tool that canVia d be used for achieving any goal… but for me, overcoming erectile dysfunction was where I saw the most distinct result.

I realized that much of the cause of the problem was me visualizing the worst possible outcome. Whenever I was on a date with a girl I would start letting the anxiety take over and imagining the pain and embarrassment I would feel if I couldn’t get it up.

I changed my internal visualizations. Whenever I started to feel anxiety creep in… I would start imaging having the wildest hottest sex imaginable with the girl. I would image myself hard as a rock jamming her to the point of pain. I would hold the vision of this unbelievable sex in mind and it was like a fortress blocking out the anxiety. Soon I found that I was actually going home and having the sex I was imagining.

If for some reason I still lost my hard on I stopped beating myself up over it. I would tell myself “it happens” and then begin looking forward to my next opportunity to sleep with the girl.

The hardest obstacle to overcome was my aversion to condoms. Oddly enough… with all the girls I slept with I never once had a girl force me to wear a condom. I would attempt to wear them on occasion, but if I felt myself shrinking… I would chuck it aside.

"Oh, stewardess?"A few years after college I began dating this girl who refused to sleep with me raw dog. My first time using a condom with her I managed, but my performance was less than stellar as my penis was only barely hard.

An odd thing happened the next time we had sex. We had the most mind blowing sex of my life. We honest to god, fucked for like four hours straight. I was hard as a rock, but could not cum. I fucked her all over her house. I made her come multiple times. When we finally finished she said “that was by far the best sex of my life.” And I believed her, because it was the best sex of my life too.

Since then my mind did a 180 degree turn in regards to condoms. I began viewing them as a tool to last longer in bed. I’ve worn them consistently since her and never once lost my erection putting one on.


It’s been many years since I’ve faced the embarrassment of an episode. I don’t kid myself to believe it will never happen again. It’s part of being a man.

If you’re going through the problem right now the best advice I can give you is to stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. The mind naturally attracts what we focus on the most. Instead change your focus to the mind blowing sex you intend to have. Repeat the image of yourself performing competently over and over in your mind.

If the problem still arises don’t put too much emphasis on it. Look at it like a stumbling block, and get back on the horse.

Do any of you have any tips for guys who might be facing this problem?

About Bobby Rio

I'm Bobby Rio, one of the founders of TSB. I tend to write about what is on my mind so you'll find a mix of self development, social dynamics and dating articles/experiences.  For a collection of some of my favorite articles check them out.

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  1. dude

    August 4, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    i agree. visualization of a positive outcome is definitely the best advice hands down. another tip to add is to be physical fit. this means quit smoking if you do,eat healthy and exercise because if the problem is physical.. visualization won’t help anything.

  2. Altair

    August 4, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    Physical fitness doesn’t play a role in this case I think. I had the *exact* same experience, I mean, it’s scary how similar it was to yours. I went to see a doctor and she said that it was a psychological problem.

    What helped me was leaving some of the clothes on. She was standing facing away from me, we both had pants on and I pushed our bodies together. I swear, I thought my pants would rip.

    Addition: the weird part was, I was actually less turned on when she was completely naked. Try to ask a girl to wear her yoga stuff or something similar to make you more turned on/comfortable. I think that may have something to do with how you need to get your imagination working to penetrate the psychological barrier preventing you from getting an erection.
    Also, maybe try doing it in the dark?

  3. id

    August 4, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    props to you for sharing this. It happened to me too my first almost time. I also share the condom curse. But it totally depends on the context. And you are right on the money with the alcohol thing. A bit of it is good because it helps bring out the animal in you and will have you last longer. Too much = whiskey dick.

    From an NLP perspective its really about reprogramming how you think of condoms. When I had problems with this in the past as soon as I reached for it mr stiffy was already waning. I was worrying and visualizing a repeat of past failures.

    The problem is when I am in foreplay, I’m getting really excited thinking about pounding that pussy into pudding and getting hard. But even reaching for the condom BREAKS MY STATE. So the question is, how to make putting on a condom exciting and pleasurable?

    Its all about fooling yourself. Start training yourself now by getting horny by the idea of putting one on. Visualize. Feel Horny. Pop wood. Spell the name of a state backwards. Repeat. Sure it sounds absurd- but not as absurd as having a limp dick when there’s a naked girl in your bed.

    I’m no NLP guru but I do believe in some of its principles. If I’m not explaining this clearly please let me know.

  4. id

    August 4, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    one thing I forgot to add: am I the only one that has trouble getting turned on when its too easy? I like a bit of resistance.

  5. evilwoobie

    August 4, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Hi Bobby! Thanks for this post!
    My experience with a guy with ED told me one thing: porn and real life are way too different! So my advice to guys with this problem is: less porn, and more focus on real sexy women (i.e. women who don’t have ultra-perfect bodies).

    I used to ask a guy first if he drank a lot like daily and how many, so I can gauge how to properly handle my frustrations later. A girl’s role in an erection-ridden guy’s ego health during sex is crucial, if she “takes it personally”, she won’t even begin to know how to help him. Yep, alcohol is bad for the little-big guy.

    Thanks again, TSB. You rock!

    evilwoobies last blog post..Dating Could Save Your Sanity

    • James

      September 4, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      Hey, thanks Evil Woobie for getting Bobby to tackle this most delicate subject. Not being able to “get it up” and the resulting fear can destroy a man’s confidence and game. Not because he can’t attract women, he still can, but once he starts doubting himself down there, he may even start to self sabotage his interactions with women just to avoid having it happen again. And then the nice sexy woman runs off feeling rejected. And everyone loses. It’s better for us men to face the issue head on and get back on track.

  6. lilez0521

    August 5, 2008 at 1:36 am


    You’re on point about the keeping the clothes on. I find it that when a girl has a nice rack, it is so much more appealing when they keep their bra on.

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  8. Buddha

    August 5, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    I just had this problem over the weekend and I was contemplating rescheduling our hookup for tonight…so big thanks for this one! I think visualization will get my launch sequence properly activated.

    I think porn may be a culprit as well…at least for me…when I was 18 and didn’t have access to porn, seeing a chick with big tits walking down the streets gave me a hard on. Now, I can look up any damn thing I want and have it as fast as my computer downloads it… so perhaps desensitization plays a part.

    Also, if there isn’t tension, resistance, passion, etc.. it makes me lose my horniness…and I also like the idea of leaving clothes on.

    Oh, and lube has helped me in the past as well.

  9. Slatko

    August 7, 2008 at 2:38 am

    I had the exact same problem. With the first 20 women I wanted to have sex with. I never had problems while watching porn. One day I realised there was a connection. I stopped watching porn completely, no smoking or drinking allowed.

    Two weeks later I had the first sex in my life! I was 23 at that time. You can’t imagine what a big wheigt fell of my shoulders.

    Great article!

  10. Dave

    July 13, 2009 at 12:23 am

    I am having this problem right now, with the first girl I’ve ever gotten to a sexual relationship with. I’m 19, and have never had any trouble getting hard masturbating, or with previous girls when sex was not an option. However, with this new girl, we’ve gotten to the crucial point 4-5 times now and I’ve been totally unable to get or maintain an erection.

    I think it’s a very psychological issue and each consecutive time it happens, I get more worried, which must be making the problem worse, but awareness of this is not helping me like I thought it would.

    I’m going to try the visualization thing. And the little bit of alcohol thing (I had been avoiding it entirely). I’ve already quit masturbating. I don’t know what I’ll do if I have condom issues, like described above.

    Thanks for a very interesting article. I finally found a source on the internet that I can point to and truly say “OMG JUST LIKE ME”. :s

  11. Toby

    December 27, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Relax, guys. I know the correct medical name of the problem, and its solution. I suffered the same when I was 20 years old. (I am now 44). It had gotten so bad that I had to go see a urologist. When I told him my problem, he immediaterly told me what it was. It’s called “Spectatoring”, which is the term Masters & Johnson gave this psycholgical condition. The problem is caused by the man focusing too much on himself during intercourse, rather than the pleasure he feels from his partner. In other words, the man needs to learn how to forget himself, so to speak, and be completely in the moment. Once the man gets in the habit of being in the moment (rather than being a third-party spectator), he is able to relax naturally, and thus erections become spontaneous.

    You can find Spectatoring on Wikipedia:

    And here is an article on Spectatoring, published in 1997 in the Journal of Sex Research:

  12. Jay

    June 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    I definitely appreciate reading this article and some of the comments. I am a guy who is 42 and have sometimes gotten a decent amount of sex in my life and then other times I’ve gone very long periods without it. Also, I didn’t lose my virginity until my 20s, which caused immense embarassment to me. I think because I’ve gotten so used to just usually masturbating when I’m horny, and not having loads of sexual opportunities, I think sex is sometimes almost an afterthought for me. I have sometimes had amazing sex with women… but there have been times when sex was just a very dreadful experience, due to worries about performance. Anyhow, I am coming off an almost 2 1/2 year period of no sex, and I’ve only finally had the chance to have sex again. The first 2 times I couldn’t stay hard and we stopped after only a few minutes. Another time I couldn’t get it up at all. The 3rd time we actually had sex I was finally able to perform for about 5 minutes before I finally went soft. And the last time I actually performed and had an orgasm… but it only lasted a few minutes and therefore she didn’t get a change to have an orgasm. Each time we’ve had sex it’s gotten slightly better, but I still haven’t been able to get back to fucking a girl for a decent amount of time like I used to and long enough for her to enjoy herself. I’m still worried about performance and whether I’ll be able to get it up each time. It’s definitely a psychological problem I know… but I will take your suggestions of just not giving into that fear and worry. I really want to satisfy this girl as well as get back to a place where I can really enjoy sex again and be decent in bed. It’s a horrible and embarassing feeling when you can’t.

  13. Jay

    June 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    I’ve also had the same problem of “losing it’ when I go to put a condom on. The last time I had sex with this girl, I didn’t use a condom… which is the first time I’ve had sex without one in about 11 years…. and that’s when I finally came. But I would like to be able to have sex with her with one on and still be able to get it up and maintain an erection and continue having sex until I know she has had an orgasm.

  14. Jere

    February 16, 2013 at 2:10 am

    Thank you guys knowing I’m not alone in this feeling soft for any man is like the end of the world I know I look up a lot of porn and agree how it’s fake to real life but what has helped me so far is my wife listening to me and dressing up now reading your comments has lifted a lot off my shoulders still having problems bad but gonna try to do it now with confidence thank you gentlemen

  15. Jeff Fisher

    August 10, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Too much porn and jacking of is the culprit. I used to watch porn everyday and be texting/talking to girls. Once I c****d my sexual desire dissipated. But I was unaware of this as I made attempt after attempt to have sex only to get limp dick. Even dated a girl for 8 1/2 months doing nothing but foreplay because I couldn’t get hard enough. It made me start doubting myself. I knew for a fact I was straight so that I knew that wasn’t the problem. It wasn’t until after I broke up with her that it hit me. Porn actually does desensitize you and change the way you thing about about sex. If you’re instantly satisfying yourself, being satisfied by a woman is not as appealing as it should be. It wasn’t until I took a month long hiatus from porn (and drank plenty of water/exercised regularly) that I saw a huge difference. Also your confidence in general and with women specifically increases. As well as your desire to pursue intimacy. I still watch porn on occasion but am wary of that fact that it becomes a habit quickly and the affects return. I just remember how much better real sex is compared to doing it yourself. Please try this if you are having this problem. Changed my life.

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