Here’s how to help him get his confidence back.
By The Good Men Project — Updated on May 19, 2023
Photo: Ron Lach / Pexels
By Jordan Gray
Sex is where we literally and metaphorically get naked together. It’s vulnerable, and, for some men, it can sometimes feel like walking on a minefield.
Sex can be a stressful topic for everyone, but in my coaching practice where I work with a lot of men on sexual issues, the topic of sex tends to focus around three main areas of concern.
To make sure that I wasn’t just imagining a trend that didn’t exist, I conducted a survey with over 3,000 men and these topics came up time and time again. I will include some direct quotes from the responders when appropriate (with names withheld because almost all of them requested anonymity). So without further ado, here are the biggest things that bother men in bed.
Here are 3 surprising things that really annoy a guy in bed:
1. Always having to be the one who initiates sex
This one was definitely one of the most common topics from all of the responses.
The majority of men are quite secure in being the ones who initiate sex with their partners. In fact, many of the men even mentioned that they preferred being the one who initiated the majority of the time.
But hundreds of men talked about how they wished their partner initiated sex (at least) occasionally. Answers varied on the spectrum from “I wouldn’t mind if she was the one with the higher sex drive and I felt like I couldn’t keep up…” to “In an ideal world she would initiate maybe once or twice per month, just so I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was just as attracted to the idea of sex with me as I am to her.”
The most common trend in this feedback leaned more towards the “I wish that she initiated sex with me sometimes.” For most of the men, less was more. Once a week, or a couple of times per month seemed to be ideal.
As for the tact going into the sexual initiation desired by these men? It almost didn’t factor into anyone’s response. And, if anything, a lack of traditional tact or subtlety was preferable.
“She could literally grab my crotch out of nowhere while I’m doing the dishes and that would be enough for me. I don’t need subtlety.”
“My ideal world fantasy (that I don’t think is that farfetched given how good our relationship is currently) is to come home and she’s already in lingerie… waiting for me to take her.”
Many men expressed that their partners didn’t need to be clever, coy, cutesy, or subtle in their sexual initiating…they just wanted it to happen.
So if you love a good man, and think he might enjoy this… you can either ask him first if he would enjoy it, or just try it out. The results might surprise you.
2. Worrying about lasting long enough/being long enough/satisfying their partner deeply enough
This is likely one of the things you thought might be on this list when you first read the headline. Cliche but true… men are highly concerned with their penises and sexual performance when it comes to sex.
The most common subdivisions of these responses were the concerns of 1) Is my penis long enough/big enough?, 2) Do I last long enough?, and the question that they’re ultimately asking in all three of these sub-points, 3) Is my partner enjoying themselves and feeling deeply satisfied with my performance?
Here are some quotes from some of the men suffering from these issues.
“I think porn really messed me up from a young age. Seeing these men with seemingly stallion-like lasting power and huge penises made me feel inadequate on so many levels. I delay sleeping with women for as long as I can in new relationships because I worry that I don’t measure up.”
“When I last for less than ten minutes during penetrative sex, I feel deep feelings of shame. Even if she tells me that she’s really happy, and I know she came, I still feel like I messed up. I have a hard time looking her in the eye afterward because I beat myself up so much about it.”
“I know that I largely create the anxiety for myself, but when I don’t feel like I hit my objective target of what sex is supposed to be like (i.e. last for 45+ minutes and make my girlfriend orgasm at least 5 times) then I feel like a failure. I know how perfectionistic and flawed this modus operandi is… but it’s how my mind works.”
What men expressed a desire for (when it comes to these topics) was that they wanted their partner to reassure them that they loved/adored their penises, that their sexual performance was more than adequate (if that was true), and if it wasn’t adequate they expressed that they wished their partner could speak up about what they wanted from them sexually more often.
Whether that feedback from their partner was real-time (in the moment, during sex) or after the fact/outside of the bedroom was irrelevant. They just wanted to be the best lovers possible for their partner.
3. Having a partner who doesn’t think that they themselves are sexy
This one surprised me the most out of these three. And I wasn’t really surprised by the fact that it was a pain point for men, as much as I was surprised by the sheer passion that men spoke about it with. I’ll let them do the talking for a bit to show you what I mean…
“I tell my wife I think she’s the prettiest human being on the planet… she doesn’t believe me. We’ve been married for over twenty years, I don’t have that high of a sex drive, and yet I still get a rock-hard erection every time I see her come home from work. I wish there was a way I could convince her or make her feel how attractive I find her. It’s like nothing else. And it’s not just physical. It’s her energy. She just lights up my body on such a deep level.”
“I literally take photos of my wife with me on vacation (when I travel without her for work) to masturbate to. I think she’s so sexy it’s insane. And yet she still prefers to have sex with the lights off most nights… unless she’s had a glass of wine. Then it’s easier for her to relax. But she worries that I’m going to see the cellulite on her thighs. And her cellulite is one of my favorite parts about her!”
“I don’t really consider myself a feminist across the board… but the thing that bothers me the most about how society oppresses women is the thick layer of shame that the media puts on our women when it comes to their physical appearance.
Magazines, billboard ads, and TV commercials are telling my wife every day, probably a hundred times, that she isn’t pretty enough, or thin enough, or whatever enough. And I just hate it! How’s a guy supposed to get a word in edgewise when there are 100 other jerks telling her she isn’t enough? I think she’s the sexiest woman on the planet. I really do. And I just wish that she could see herself through my eyes for just a second. If she could do that, she’d never worry again.”
Time and time again men expressed how amazingly sexy they found their wife/girlfriend/partner and how their partner didn’t believe them. And there were also countless mentions of how they assumed the media was to blame for their partners’ lack of security in their physical appearance.
While I won’t be going into how to counteract this phenomenon within this article, verbal praise and appreciation is definitely a good place to start. You can try writing powerful love letters, helping your partner move through sexual blocks, and getting more comfortable with your body through extended masturbation.
If you enjoyed this article, please share it with your friends so that the world can grow emotionally. More people need to see that men are not the stereotypically sex-obsessed beasts that society makes them out to be.
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Jordan Gray is a five-time #1 Amazon best-selling author, public speaker, and relationship coach with more than a decade of practice behind him. His work has been featured in The New York Times, BBC, Forbes, The Huffington Post, and more.