Q&A: Sexual Arousal With Strangers

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QUESTION: I currently have sex with a woman from my office and occasionally with women I meet out at bars. I am 35 and healthy but I can’t seem to get an erection with them. I seem to lose my erection when things get hot and heavy but with my ex I can get a hard on right away. What can I do to get an erection with these women who I don’t know as well?

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A girl sitting alone at a bar

Photo: rsambrook (flickr)

If you are open to getting to know other women well, you might spend more time getting to know them over dinner, drinks or other activities before having sex with them.

In many cultures, there is a stereotype that men are always ready and eager to have sex with just about anyone. However, as strong as a man’s interest or desire may be, his body may not always be ready to have sex.

Some men find it very difficult to get or maintain an erection with partners who they do not know very well. Often they find that they cannot “make” themselves have an erection just because they want one.

Mental and Physical

Sexual arousal is often strongest when a person feels both mentally and physically aroused. If you don’t know these women very well, you may find it difficult to feel mentally aroused or excited by them.

Perhaps it is easier for you to feel sexually aroused, and to become erect, with your ex because you feel more connected to her or mentally turned on by her. After all, you have an entire history with her – you may feel attracted to her because of the way that she makes you feel, or because of her humor or personality in addition to her physical attractiveness.

A Physical Problem?

Since you are able to still get erections with your ex, it is unlikely that you have a physical problem with your erections. However, if you are concerned about your erectile function or have questions about it, please check in with your healthcare provider.

If you are open to getting to know other women well, you might spend more time getting to know them over dinner, drinks or other activities before having sex with them. As you get to know women more, you may find it easier to feel relaxed, comfortable and both mentally and physically turned on.

It is also possible that other issues are keeping you from having full and reliable erections with other women. For example, if you are still in love with your ex, you may find it difficult to move on and be with other women until you have resolved those feelings.

Recommended Reading

To learn more about erectile function, you may find it helpful to read The Sexual Male: Problems and Solutions by Richard Milsten and Julian Slowinski.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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