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He couldn't get it up: is it because of me?

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first timer asks:

I'm 17,and I have been dating this guy for like a year. We just started having sex, and the other day we were going to but he wanted me to give him head before so he would last longer...then he could not get it back up. He tried hard to but it just wouldn't. Was it me? Can I just not do it for him or something?

Heather Corinna replies:

How familiar are you with the changes to your vulva or the rest of your body when you get sexually aroused?

I ask this, because I'm willing to bet that there have been times, for you, when you're with a partner you're attracted to, and who you want to be with, but find that your clitoris is not as hard or has not grown as big as it did as it might have the last time. Or, where you don't find that your outer labia get all puffy the way that they have sometimes, or where you're not as wet as you were once when you had sex or got excited. You probably have also experienced getting very excited, then finding out that that didn't sustain itself, or kinda just went poof when you don't feel like, mentally, you'd lost any excitement. You might have experienced being very excited then just losing interest because something else distracted you. Sometimes when you get sexually excited, your face will flush, your breasts will swell and your nipples will get hard: sometimes, none of those things will happen, even when you're in the exact same situation with the same person where it happened once before. Too, you may also have had times where you reached orgasm once, then your body was just done: it just wasn't going to happen again, even if you wanted it to and your partner was doing everything right. Heck, you may yet have not even experienced that high-level arousal at all with a partner or alone to even have had any of these things happen to you yet at all, despite being attracted to your current partner.

For some strange reason, people seem to interpret men's erections as automatic signals of approval or rejection while not doing the same with female sexual arousal. Mind, some of that is because plenty of people don't even know, realize or pay attention to the fact that some of our body parts get erect or change when we're aroused, and too, some folks just assume that female arousal isn't even an issue in the first place.

But whether we're talking about men or we're talking about women, sometimes our bodies just don't act in accordance with our sexual desires.

The sexual response cycle and our libidos are complex things, influenced by a world of physical, emotional, psychological, interpersonal and environmental factors. Things like our overall physical and mental health, our hormonal levels at given times in our reproductive cycles (and men have them, too), our stress levels in all areas of our lives, how awake or tired we are, what pressures we do or do not feel sexually from ourselves and/or partners (and "trying" to become aroused or erect is one of those pressures), certain medications we may be taking, even what we ate on a given day and what our bodies are trying to do to digest it are all just some of the things that can often impact our sexual desire and our sexual response. And sometimes, when any of us have gotten off one way, or enjoyed one activity, our bodies are just plain done with sex at a certain point, and would prefer a cookie or a nap.

I can be more attracted to my partner than I have been to anyone in my life, and sometimes, I've had enough sex to just be done or the fact that I can't get something that happened at work out of my head is going to result in my body just not expressing that desire sexually. Make sense?

It's best to not take these things personally, and or to get all hung up on the idea that someone's erection is all about you. Men can get erections -- and women can get physically aroused -- randomly, even with things where we feel like while our body seems to find it very exciting, our minds are going, "Eeeew! No WAY!" We can find that we sometimes physically respond to someone we don't even like at all, and sometimes don't physically respond to someone who makes our hearts go all a'flutter. Our intellectual, emotional and interpersonal desires just aren't always in alignment with our bodies. Certainly, we're more likely to have our bodies respond to something we also feel excited or positive about in our heads and hearts, but not always. And if you need to have your partner's affection for you and attraction for you better demonstrated or verified, it's better to look to his words and actions for that than to his penis.

I hope you're in a relationship where the two of you have good, open communication about sex, and where, if something you're doing for your partner -- and vice-versa -- just doesn't feel that great, or if you two are having problems or experiencing your sexual desire ebbing, you can talk about it. If you're not sure you have that, put it out there and make clear you want to be sure you can be open together. If you are, then rest assured your partner knows he can tell you if he needs you to do something differently, or tell you if he's experiencing changes in his feelings about you. And if you've got all that going and he expresses none of those things, then know it's just one of those days where what you both want and what his or your bodies wither want or are up to aren't coming together, and that's okay. I'd also make sure you're both on the same page in knowing that when something just isn't happening, neither of you has to feel obligated to try and make your bodies do something when they just don't wanna: that it's no biggie on a day like that to just snuggle or go watch a movie, take a walk, or call it a night.

P.S. If part of this issue was that he got off and you didn't, by all means, let him know if and when that happens. he doesn't need an erection to get you there: he's got hands, he's got a mouth, you've got hands... there are a lot of different things the two of you can do together, and he doesn't need to get off again, or have that be a possibility, to want to do that or be motivated to do that. If and when two people had intercourse in mind, but it just isn't going to happen, one or both should be able to easily just suggest doing something else both of you enjoy.

Here's some extra info on all this for you:

written 10 May 2008 . updated 11 May 2008

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