Dating A Guy With Performance Anxiety: What To Know

For many, sex is the ultimate stress relief. 

It can provide important emotional, psychological, and physical benefits, such as improved self-esteem, better sleep, reduced anxiety, depression, and heightened pleasure. 

But, when you are dating a guy with performance anxiety, the entire experience can turn upside down. 

Not only can sexual performance anxiety be a serious blow to your partner’s ego, but it can also cause problems, tensions, and anxiety in your relationship

Sometimes these issues can be hard to navigate and could eventually cause a breakup. 

Below, you can find the best tips on how to deal with performance anxiety and inspire your partner to get through every obstacle together.

What is performance anxiety?

Sexual performance anxiety is one of the top most common sexual complaints. A study shows that it affects about 9% to 25% of men. 

So, what is sexual anxiety? This is a fear-based response to intimacy or sex. It can impede a man physiologically, psychologically, and emotionally.

Performance anxiety means that a guy is too nervous about getting it up. He is very stressed, tense, and apprehensive about sex. Therefore, he has a hard time enjoying it. 

Men who struggle with performance anxiety can have different problems in the bedroom. Such as: 

Mindfulness meditation training and cognitive behavioral therapy can be effective for sexual anxiety performance in men. But there are other ways you can try to help with performance anxiety, erectile dysfunction, nervousness, and low libido.

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What causes performance anxiety?

Performance anxiety in men often stems from unreasonable expectations because of what they see in movies and internet porn. 

They think that sex is supposed to go or look a certain way. So, they try to replicate what they see on screen rather than enjoy the moment. 

Other factors include: 

  • Poor body image
  • Lack of confidence
  • Life stress (e.g., relationship conflict, problems at work, and past experiences)
  • Worries about penis size
  • Concerns about taking too long to ejaculate or ejaculating too soon
  • High anxiety levels about not being able to enjoy sex or having an orgasm
  • Negative feelings about giving or getting pleasurable oral sex

Can anxiety cause erectile dysfunction? 

Yes. Anxiety causing erectile dysfunction is a common problem. Anything that can cause anxiety can affect a man’s ability to get an erection. 

A survey shows that men with pre-existing anxiety disorders have higher odds of experiencing performance anxiety related to sex. 

Men younger than 30 are more likely to have ED from anxiety and nervousness. This is often a short-term problem. 

How does performance anxiety affect relationships?

Dating a guy with performance anxiety can be a challenge. Performance anxiety can happen to anyone. 

You can have sexual anxiety in marriage, and you can have it with a new partner. Erectile dysfunction in new relationships is fairly common. 

Many men have a fear of failure. Someone who is afraid of failing their partner intimately might avoid sex. 

This causes insecurity, anxiousness, and a lack of desire in both of you. For some people, when the honeymoon phase ends, that’s when some of these problems can begin. 

Some couples can break up over erectile dysfunction, especially if their partner becomes physically and emotionally distant. 

Having performance anxiety with a new partner can increase the difficulty of finding a date and building a connection with them. 

When a man feels nervous about sleeping with a new partner, they can stress over premature ejaculation, staying erect, what the other person thinks, feels, etc. 

They can create endless unrealistic scenarios in their head, which can further decrease their confidence and amplify their erectile anxiety.

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Dating a guy with performance anxiety: what to know 

Want to know how to overcome performance anxiety in bed? Performance anxiety can be managed by two simple things: communication and revamping the sex life. 

You need to talk about the things that interfere with your sex life well before the intercourse even starts. 

You should recognize the signs he has performance anxiety, talk about your boundaries, know what to say, and offer male performance anxiety solutions that can work, like guided imagery. The tips below can help.

Signs he has performance anxiety

Before you know how to fix performance anxiety, it is important to recognize the signs. Some of the telltale signs include: 

For example, the man is self-critical, tense, and worried about doing anything sexual with you. They have overwhelmingly negative thoughts and sometimes express them. 

If you are dating someone with erectile dysfunction, you need to be open-minded about their problem. Avoid being judgmental or negative, as this can further affect the man’s anxiety and stress. 

How do I deal with my partner with performance anxiety?

In general, worries about male performance anxiety are rooted in the feeling of not being good enough, big enough, hard enough, or pleasurable enough. 

The thing is, everyone’s desires and pleasure points are different. So, if you spend each moment of the sexual experience trying to figure out that pleasure point, you can work on achieving enjoyable intercourse.

Here is how to reassure a man with ED:

  • Be mutually supportive
  • Don’t pressure each other
  • Go slow and ease into it
  • Take turns pleasuring one another
  • Focus more on the sensual aspect of things, not just genital arousal
  • Give non-critical directions of what you like and don’t like
  • Pay attention to their erection pattern. See what you do that arouses them the most.

Relationship vulnerability can help. It means you should open up to your partner. 

This process takes time and effort. It gives better chances for growth and connection. It can help establish a better mind-body connection and foster trust, intimacy, and closeness. 

Without it, the relationship can feel superficial, and partners can start acting resentful or disconnected from one another. 

How to overcome sexual performance anxiety with guided imagery

Guided imagery is a therapy technique that focuses on visualization to describe a positive scenario that you want to happen. 

Studies indicate that guided imagery offers positive benefits for depression and stress, which are some of the major factors for ED.

Guided imagery for ED starts when men repeatedly visualize themselves having great sex without erection troubles. This slowly helps the mind rewire itself. 

The way it works is relatively simple. Performance anxiety happens when negative emotions, thoughts, and self-talk overwhelm you.

They create a mental barrier that makes it difficult to achieve and maintain an erection. Guided imagery helps draw away the attention from the psychological block and focus it on what you wish to happen. 

That is why ED medication, like Viagra, doesn’t work for sexual performance anxiety and psychological impotence. You can speak to a psychologist or sex therapist to try guided imagery therapy.

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What do I say to my boyfriend with performance anxiety?

If you want to know how to get rid of sexual anxiety, you should work on your talking skills. Your partner sometimes needs reassurance. And the way you express yourself can help. Let him know that things don’t have to be perfect. Just being together is enough for you.

So, how to stay hard when nervous? Simply tell your partner that you are nervous. This can release and ease some of that tension. 

If he looks apprehensive about getting naked in front of you, tell him that he is handsome and that you want him. 

Poor body image is one of the main causes of sexual performance anxiety. Sometimes giving a simple validation of their physical appearance can come a long way.

Also, try to dirty talk more. Dirty talk can highly arouse partners. The things you say should feel natural. They don’t have to be super creative. Even something as simple as “just like that,” “look at me,” or “right there” can work.

How to break the cycle of performance anxiety?

If you want to know how to help the guy you’re dating get over performance anxiety, you can multitask a bit. It might sound counterproductive, but it can work with sex. Some men could use a little distraction if the intimate experience is making them feel anxious.

When a man is entirely focused on having sex, their anxiety and stress can get the best of them. What you can do is try to have sex while you watch a movie or listen to music. These simple distractions can create the perfect atmosphere and even set the mood.

You can also try letting him be in control. Experiment with different toys and find something that you both can enjoy. 

Another way is to give your man a confidence boost. Tell him that you like whatever he is doing so he can feel more comfortable and able to pleasure you. 

Feel free to try different positions, and focus on your breathing, foreplay, and mutual interest. 

The sexual encounter can be eventful and highly pleasurable if you and your partner put all the negative thoughts in the background and just enjoy the moment. 

If getting over performance anxiety proves to be a tougher challenge, you can advise your partner to seek expert help.

Different mental health issues can contribute to ED. A mental health expert can help partners who struggle with emotional problems that get in the way of their sex drive. They can suggest meditation training, cognitive behavioral therapy, and guided imagery. 


Many partners are looking for ways how to overcome sexual performance anxiety. With open communication, mutual effort, and expert help, you can revamp your sex life. 

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  1. Pyke RE. Sexual Performance Anxiety. Sex Med Rev. 2020.
  2. Rajkumar RP, Kumaran AK. Depression and anxiety in men with sexual dysfunction: a retrospective study. Compr Psychiatry. 2015.
  3. Case LK, Jackson P, Kinkel R, Mills PJ. Guided Imagery Improves Mood, Fatigue, and Quality of Life in Individuals With Multiple Sclerosis: An Exploratory Efficacy Trial of Healing Light Guided Imagery. J Evid Based Integr Med. 2018.
  4. Kuruvilla K. Treatment of single impotent males. Indian J Psychiatry. 1984 Apr;26(2):160-3. PMID: 21965976; PMCID: PMC3012223.

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