How to help your male partner if he’s struggling with performance issues

May 25,2021

Xander here – stepping in for Vanessa today!

If you’ve been following us for awhile, you’ll know we talk a lot about female orgasm, but women aren’t the only ones who struggle with performance issues! Men experience performance issues just as often.

The reality is that our bodies aren’t machines, and despite our best efforts, they just don’t always work the way we want them to. 

But we’re socialized to believe that men are supposed to always want sex and be able to get hard at the drop of a hat, so the moment we experience a male performance issue, we all tend to freak out. 

For the guy, he usually feels emasculated and worried that something is physically wrong. 

And then he brings that anxiety into his next sexual experience, increasing the likelihood that it happens again, creating a vicious cycle. 

For partners of men, the reaction tends to be something along the lines of:

“I must not be attractive or sexy enough.”

“I’m not doing a good enough job.”

 “He’s not turned on by me.”

“He must not love me anymore.”

While we’ve got an entire course for men dedicated to addressing performance issues – The Modern Man’s Guide – today I want to address the partners out there and talk about how you can support your guy (and yourself!) through the inevitable performance issues that will come up over the course of your relationship.

First, let’s get clear on what we’re talking about here. The most common male performance issues are:

The main reason for performance issues is typically anxiety. But here are some of the other factors that can contribute:

So how can you be a supportive partner to your guy if he’s struggling?

First, there are some really important things NOT to do:

Don’t take it personally. 

Turning a performance issue into a referendum on yourself will only serve to make you feel bad about yourself, and reinforce the idea that he has to perform 100% of the time (which will only increase the likelihood of the opposite happening).

Don’t accuse him of cheating or being gay. 

These kinds of accusations just aren’t true, and they reinforce harmful stereotypes of male sexuality. 

Don’t tell him he needs to fix it OR ELSE. 

It’s OK for you to have your own reactions to performance issues, but you want to be EXTREMELY careful with how you share those reactions with him. 

Making ultimatums or being mean will only serve to make it more likely that he’ll experience performance issues next time. 

And finally, onto the good stuff! Here are some things you can do:


Gently tell him you understand, and try to give an example of a way your own body doesn’t always do what you want it to.

Set better goals for your sex life. 

You can’t control your bodies, so body performance shouldn’t be the main indicator of sexual success. 

Think about what else defines “good sex” to you, and try to come up with some things that can done or achieved without requiring penetration.

De-emphasize intercourse.

(Particularly for heterosexual couples). Intercourse is just one of many possible sexual activities. 

Incorporating more things (e.g., oral or manual stimulation) into your sexual repertoire can lower the stakes around perfect penetrative performance.

Share this email with him. 

You could say something like, “I know we’ve been having some conversations about the frustrations you’ve been feeling in the bedroom. I want to do whatever I can to be a supportive partner to you. I follow this sex therapist and her husband. Look at the email they just sent out.”

Let him know you’re on his team. 

Remind him that despite it being his body this is happening to, it’s your sex life together and you’re here for him in whatever way you can be.

Enlist our help. 

If he’s really struggling with getting out of the cycle, you can always share our course – The Modern Man’s Guide

It has helped hundreds of men have way better sex, supercharge their confidence, and create lasting change!


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I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!