Thursday, July 7, 2016

Swingers & Performance Anxiety

Claire and I feel that performance anxiety has become the elephant in the room in the Lifestyle: it happens all the time, yet no one wants to talk about it. Both men and women may feel shame over this issue, being afraid that they are the only ones it has happened to. They do not realize how common it really is.

Male Performance Anxiety Triggers: What Men Have Told Us & What We Have Observed

“I feel out of my element in this venue”
The party or club may not be your regular scene or crowd.

“Feeling uncomfortable around other people’s show”
The other man looks like a total stud and the other woman won’t stop moaning. Being around other people having sex can be a turn-on, but it also can be very distracting, especially when you are taking in the sight and sounds of other people who look like they are in a porn video. Whether the other people are faking it, or genuinely having the best sex of their lives, comparing ourselves to others can generate anxiety and performance pressure.

“I’m distracted by the little things in my environment”
Some men get distracted, particularly the more introverted ones, by what’s going on in the background: loud side conversations, bad lighting (either too bright, too dark, or colored novelty), uncomfortable play areas, too hot/too cold, and even music they dislike. Audrey: I’m not a man but I can empathize with music issues, in particular. I do not love a “good booty shaking” song...in fact, let’s shut off the music altogether, because if I hear a song lyric that triggers something in my brain, I’m apt to go off on a mental tangent.

“Same room or different room couple”
You and your partner need to come to terms with whether you are same or different room. Some couples don’t care, while others are turned on by watching their partner have sex with a new person. Other couples finding it very distracting. Develop self-awareness for what works for you as a couple. If you are lucky enough to find a 4-way swap, and the other couple have different preferences on “same room vs. different room,” be willing to compromise or communicate your reasons for why this does or doesn’t work for you.

“Private vs. Public play space”
If the space is too public, the man may feel pressure to perform as an exhibitionist, when this is not his speed. Private play space or public play space can impact men tremendously. They may feel self-conscious being watched by other men or women.


“Is she into this?”
Some men may experience performance anxiety when they are unsure about the other female. Does she like me? Is she just taking one for the team?

“This feels rushed”
Often LS events happen on tight timelines where couples have the pressure of getting home to their babysitter. Some men may feel that swap-offs are rushed or there is a lack of buildup. Having to be immediately “ready,” when they need more time to get to know a woman and/or have more foreplay, may result in performance anxiety.

“Porn Star Performance”
Porn culture can give people unrealistic expectations about sex. You may find yourself making comparisons, especially regarding your body and technique, and wondering if you “measure up” to a new partner’s expectations. This may be exacerbated by a lack of communication on your partner’s part about what she likes.

“Sizing Yourself Up”
Many men have anxiety about their penis size. This may be amplified if the female emphasizes her preference for larger appendages. We have found that most women care far less about size than men think.

“Taking her feedback negatively”
One man, upon being told more than once by his female partner for the night, that his penetration angle was hurting her, took this personally and lost his erection. He felt resentful towards the woman. This was not her intention. All he had to do was ask what she wanted or what he could do to make her more comfortable. Men need to know that sometimes penetration or rougher play can be uncomfortable for women. They need to pay attention to the woman’s feedback and not take it personally. 

“Whisky dick. Stoned boner, weed wiener”
Alcohol definitely impacts performance. Some studies have also shown that marijuana can lead to erectile dysfunction and negatively impact a man’s ability to get hard. For men, we would recommend experimenting with pot and sex with a longer-term partner so they know their own particular response and limits in this matter.

“Barrier barrier”
Condoms reduce sensitivity and many male swingers have been in monogamous relationships with their partners for years, which means they are not used to condoms. Even the thought of having to wear a condom and knowing that they make erections more difficult can put men into an anxiety loop. Men, this is not your free pass to bareback, unless this is your regular partner or lover. Be safe!

Women’s Reactions to Male Performance Anxiety

Some women do take male performance anxiety personally. It would be better for all involved if women could come to understand men’s anxiety and the pressure to perform and avoid internalizing performance issues as a reflection on their desirability. In the majority of cases, a man’s inability to get hard does not mean he finds his partner undesirable. And, even if he wasn’t attracted to her, a woman shouldn’t let one man’s assessment obliterate her self-esteem. We all have different types of people we find attractive and variety is one of the reasons people are drawn to swinging in the first place.

Claire: We, as women, need to be turned on too to enjoy the experience. We are lucky because this is not always obvious to our partner and we don’t experience the embarrassment men may feel from being unable to get hard. Personally, I like dirty dancing, making out, flirty conversation. I need a connection with my partner, either mental or physical before I can really enjoy “getting down to play.” Meanwhile, the reality is that the 4-way swinger connection with people you have just met can feel very contrived. Until you make the “ask,” you may not necessarily even know if the other people are attracted to you, or just interested in social conversation. By making the “ask,” you open yourself up to the possibility of rejection. So even if the answer is “yes,” it is normal to feel nervous.

Audrey: I’ve been in a few situations where the man had performance anxiety, and I did not take it personally. From what I could tell, it was due to nerves or attributable to drinking too much alcohol. I used verbal reassurances to make sure my play partner knew that I was understanding. Our culture puts a lot of “baggage” onto male performance. Pornos show men with never ending erections who seemingly can screw for hours on end without stopping, like the Energizer bunny. What they don’t show is the moments where the man loses his erection or takes a Viagra or something funny happens like they fall off the couch, while trying to get into a position. The excessively choreographed scenes of porn are not real sex. There’s a lack of authenticity and vulnerability. If we can find that place of vulnerability, outside of judgment, and accept each other as humans, not walking love-dolls who “should” be having “perfect” sex “the right way,” then we are making progress. 

 www.makelovenotporn.com

Claire: This has happened to me on a few occasions and I did not take it personally. I tried to put the man at ease. I told him, and this is true, that “sex is a buffet and I enjoy a lot of items on the menu.” I usually ask them if there are other things they’d be interested in doing.  For me, sex is not all about penetration. It is about connecting (even if it is just physical) with another person. Oral sex, manual stimulation and focusing on other parts of the body are good alternatives. Talking is as well. What is key is that I feel self-confident, as a woman, that this is not about me. And, when the guy is cool about this, it puts me at ease. We all have to realize that sex can be awkward, especially with people we don’t know. There is no “playbook” for how good sex goes down. It’s about relating to the other person and being able to pick up on their signals.

Elaborating on conversation and play, I have had some really fun conversations with guys before, after, or in lieu of sex, with both of us totally butt-fucking naked. I am relatively comfortable in my body, and if I am attracted to the guy, which is the only circumstance in which I will play; I don’t see failure to get hard as a failure, when we can do other things that are fun.

Recommendations

Props, very under-used at swinger parties I (Claire) have gone to. One time I went to a party by myself. I didn’t even catch a ride with friends, just took Uber. I like light flogging, so I took my favorite flogger. This turned out to be a real ice breaker. Quite a few men and women in the LS, with whom I had previously talked, but had no idea they shared my proclivity, started talking to me about BDSM and their experiences and what they enjoyed. This led to a lot of light fun and play, outside of the playroom...and inside, as it helped me identify my partners for that night.

Another prop I love was nicknamed by a fellow LS woman as the “purple passion.” Another name for it is the silver bullet. There is nothing expensive, rare, or high tech about this toy. It comes with a cord and manual control. This toy often breaks, but for the $20 or so dollars it costs, I buy reserves. It provides good value. I have taken this to LS parties before and played with my spouse. If I met a new partner who seemed at ease with this, I would probably break it out. I just haven’t tried it yet with first-time swinger sex partners. 

We wanted to note that many men in the Lifestyle do use ED medications like Viagra and Cialis to address performance anxiety. In some cases, they may be remedy whether they are a placebo or not. At the same time, we personally know men who were unable to achieve erections even with medications. These drugs are not guaranteed to work and anxiety can still get in the way. That's why it's important to address performance anxiety even if it can be alleviated, to a degree, with medications. 

Female Performance Anxiety

What women do have, that may be the closest equivalent to male performance anxiety, is the occasional pressure with some partners, for us to come.

Reality check. Not all women come on demand. Some women feel cheapened by faking it and won’t do it. Many also find it hard to come when there is pressure to do so. Some women come very rarely and only with certain positions or props, or they may need to build up a mental scenario in their head to help trigger this release. This is usually NOT a direct reflection on the man’s performance as a lover.

Women who find it hard to come and who are comfortable with their sexuality, usually do well to let their partners know if play has been going on for a long time and he feels like he can’t stop until she comes. Just as men don’t like being judged for performance issues, women do NOT like it when men take their (the man’s) inability to make them come as a personal let-down. 

Audrey: I get stuck inside my own head relatively easily. While it is usually well-intentioned, a man being too vocal about his desire to make me come makes it all the harder to achieve. This is compounded by the newness of the partner, a lack of familiarity with each other’s bodies, and tendency for things to feel “rushed,” as most get-togethers have a set timeline. It doesn’t matter how attracted I am or how sexually compatible we are, sometimes it just won’t happen because I can’t “let go” mentally. I consider this a type of performance anxiety and have joked that, if I were a guy, I’d rarely get it up in the Lifestyle because I’d think my dick out of it! Men having their arousal on display is not something I envy.

The good thing is that we have had cool partners who were not judgmental about us (as women) when it came to making us come, and we did not feel like it was a big deal when men could not get hard with us. Like everything in life, swinging is about having a good attitude. To be successful about this, you have to be relatively easy-going and not take yourself or sex overly seriously. Also, if we are in this environment for the right reasons, it’s because we enjoy variety when it comes to sex. Good sex is about more than penetration or cumming. It’s about a whole bunch of mental and physical ways you can connect with other people. Claire loves the word “play” for swinger sex. At its best, swinger sex is hot, sexy, erotic, but it is also playful. 

Don't buy into the shame!



Be like these smiling ass mofos!





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