I am shy about anything other than ‘vanilla’ sex with my husband

I am shy about anything other than ‘vanilla’ sex with my husband

We used to be more adventurous, but now I can’t even bring myself to do oral sex with him

I love my husband, who is father to my two young children, but over the past few years I have become very shy about doing anything other than “vanilla” sex. I dream of doing things we used to earlier in our relationship, but just can’t bring myself to do even fairly standard things such as oral sex. I think that I would have no problem doing them with a stranger, and I know my husband would very much like me to do it to him, but I have a mental block that I can’t get over.

For all the right reasons, you view yourself as a good wife and mother, but people are multifaceted and there is another, important part of you that you are currently undervaluing. Your dreams and fantasies reveal your longing to reconnect with your sexual side. You might find it helpful to read Carl Jung’s notions about balancing one’s “mother”, “amazon” and “courtesan”, but in practical terms you need to find a new way to express yourself erotically.

Consider setting up a role-playing date with your husband in which you meet in the bar of a hotel and pretend to be strangers hooking up; such games will often give couples permission to act in uncustomary ways. Sometimes returning to the locations of your early courtship can break an impasse. I also recommend you take a class to physically release your sensual self – for example salsa or Brazilian dancing, such as lambazouk or samba. Such dances are excellent for releasing the hips to allow for sensual expression and sexual awakening.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist specialising in sexual disorders.

• Send your problem to private.lives@guardian.co.uk


I’m depressed and scared that I can’t get an erection

You have split up with a long-term girlfriend and so you are understandably down. But don’t be ashamed about it, advises Pamela Stephenson Connolly

Depression is frequently an underlying cause of erectile problems.

Depression is frequently an underlying cause of erectile problems. Photograph: Alamy

I’m a male 21-year-old university student. I recently broke up with my girlfriend of three years, who was my first sexual partner. This left me feeling quite unstable so I got together with another girl. That ended after a month, mainly because I couldn’t keep an erection during intercourse – a problem I’d never faced before. Since then, I’ve lost all confidence and become a social recluse. I can’t sleep and it’s affecting my grades. I’m scared that if I do have sex again, I won’t be able to get an erection. I don’t want to go to a GP and admit I’m depressed because I will feel as if I am letting my family down.

Depression frequently follows loss. Since you’ve lost not only your girlfriend, but also your sexual and social confidence, it’s entirely understandable that you might experience a mood slide.

Suffering from any kind of mental health issue shouldn’t be a shameful thing, so don’t prolong your pain. You’re now an adult with a right to privacy, so you don’t have to share your physical or mental status with your family, but don’t suffer alone; tell someone close to you about your feelings.

Depression is frequently an underlying cause of erectile problems but this reaction is usually temporary. Unfortunately, the intense anxiety a man often feels after a few erectile failures can hamper future physical arousal and compound the problem. Summon the energy to see your GP, do more physical exercise and acquire some relaxation techniques. You’ll heal in time.


I can’t maintain an erection and it has ruined my confidence with women

Men imagine women are critical about every sexual performance, but this is not the case

I’m a 21-year-old male student but my sex life is non-existent. I haven’t had a girlfriend in four years and the sexual experiences I’ve had have resulted in humiliation, due to my inability to maintain an erection, especially when using a condom. I wouldn’t describe myself as sexually driven, but I long for an emotional connection with a female. I very rarely indicate interest or approach girls I like due to a complete lack of confidence in my sexual performance. Any advice on how to change this depressing situation would be much appreciated.

Many men imagine that all women are critical about sexual performance and expect perfect erections at every lovemaking session. This is absolutely not the case. Most women would much rather be with someone who is caring, so approach them with that in mind.

Take your time to find a relationship where sex is not anxiety-inducing, but is about you pleasing her. Intercourse is not necessarily a woman’s favourite part of sex. If you find out exactly what a particular woman likes – how to stimulate her clitoris manually or orally, for example – she will appreciate that far more than nervous thrusting. Once you know you can arouse her without using your penis, you will find it easier to relax and have intercourse.

Experiment with different types and sizes of condom until you can masturbate to orgasm; then it will be easier to use protection with a partner

My boyfriend can’t come. How can I help him?

Some men take longer to climax than others. Ask him to tell you what he needs, advises Pamela Stephenson Connolly

Couple sitting on edge of bed

‘Two months beyond virginity is a very early stage in one’s sexual life.’ Photograph: Lofty/RelaXimages/Getty Images/Cultura RF

I have been with my boyfriend for two months and we were both virgins when we had sex for the first time. I feel so sad because I can’t get him to come. We do foreplay and I give him oral sex to get him in the mood. He says once he enters me it feels good but after a minute he doesn’t feel anything any more. Can you please help us get over this problem?

Some men simply take longer to ejaculate than others, and sometimes this is because they require more intense penile sensation than most mouths or vaginas can provide. Ask him to help you understand exactly what he needs; that is the essence of good love-making. Learning about his masturbation style would be a good start. Some men are used to self-pleasuring in a high-friction style – for example, with a rough towel – and that can make the switch to partner sex more difficult. Two months beyond virginity is a very early stage in one’s sexual life, so don’t be too concerned.

In terms of delayed ejaculation, other possibilities are that your boyfriend may be struggling to stay focused on the task. Some people find intrusive thoughts or anxiety prevent them from reaching orgasm, so it is important to help reduce any performance anxiety. For both of you, taking the pressure off achieving orgasm, and simply focusing on the giving and receiving of pleasure, is the way to develop a lifetime of enjoyable sex.• Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders.


• Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist who specialises in treating sexual disorders

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