Sex can be so enjoyable yet so stressful at the same time....especially when you're dating someone new. We're chatting with Dean about recovering from erectile dysfunction and what that meant for his sex life.
Sex can be so enjoyable yet so stressful at the same time....especially when you're dating someone new. We're chatting with Dean about recovering from erectile dysfunction and what that meant for his sex life. We discuss our societies views on sex and the expectations of men, why not being able to get it up rarely has to do with the partner, and how to get through sexual dysfunctions with your partners.
Want to learn more about how Dean navigated ED through therapy and other mental/psychological approaches? Feel free to reach out to him at deantalksaboutED@gmail.com
Thank you to our partners for this episode:
Drizly: Download the Drizly app or go to Drizly.com and use promo code FAST5 for $5 off your first order.
S14E11: Performance Anxiety (In the Bedroom)
00:00:01 - 00:05:04
The dateable podcast is an insider's look into modern dating that The Huffington Post calls one of the top ten podcasts about love and sex. On each episode, we'll talk to real daters about everything from sex parties to sex droughts, date fails to diaper fetishes and first moves to first loves. I'm your host UA Shu, former dating coach turned dating sociologist. You also hear from my co host and producer Julie Kraft chick as we explore this crazy dateable world. Hey Friends, welcome to another episode of the day Bill podcast, where we help everyone navigate the modern dating scene and what is going on in today's world of dating. And what is going on is that we are both negative from cocoa. I did a little COVID free dance. You'd be proud of me. Wait, you just did it, or you did it before. Well, I did it when I got the negative test. Oh, okay. No, okay. All right, good. Well, I'm sad you didn't record that incentive. You're like, did I miss something? You did it. Jimmy. You're like, were you doing that in your seat? No, I did it for my partner. He's told me that my weird side comes out for him and I'm like, compared to UA, I'm not weird at all. Listen, we're just good. That's what he loves it. You're most authentic. That's when you're most authentic. I was like, I feel like if I told you a way that you thought it was weird, she would laugh because you're always like, I have the weirder one of the two of us. I think I'm like weirder as an I've come out as weird, but I've closeted weird. Yeah. I think you have these impulsive tendencies that I haven't seen yet, but one of these days. I guess when you had COVID, that's when it came out. Damn it, I missed it. No, it's been long before COVID. But yes, yes, I wore closeted weird. It's all good. I am so happy that we were both COVID free though. That is like the best news ever because in hindsight it wasn't that bad, but it was still fucking miserable. I would say in high insight, it wasn't terrible. Like we definitely both got lucky in the cases that I think COVID current day is a lot different than it was two years ago. So for that, I'm very grateful. Would I want to get it again? No. Definitely not a fun experience. But was it like the worst thing ever? I've had like flus that are probably the same. And I'm not equating COVID to the flu. Because I agree. And I think what it is now is very different than what it once was. And what's scary about it is you don't know how it's going to hate you. So I feel like there's a little bit of a relief that I'm like, oh, I didn't hit me that bad, but you just don't know, and that's what's terrifying to me. It's so terrifying to know that there are like lasting consequences of it. So I'm still kind of experiencing the congestion and I don't know the mind. The brain fog, but I do feel also very lucky in the fact that I was able to have access to a drug paxlovid, which is a Pfizer drug, that shortened my COVID positive period. So I tested positive on Monday, I tested negative by Friday and then Saturday we tested again, were negative and got cleared by the doctors, and then we went down to Coachella for a day and a half. 'cause we're the good Asians that didn't want to lose out on the money that we paid for. Coachella. Well, I'm sure that you were good at warrior bass the whole time, because I know you would be there. The good thing about Coachella is that it is so fucking dusty there because it's a desert. Everyone wears a mask because you don't want to get that shit in your nose. So my experience was not my full Coachella experience. And this was my first one. So I definitely don't think this is a representative, but we were sober the whole time because we didn't want to worsen our COVID symptoms. I think Coachella would be awesome on drugs or on something where you don't feel the environment that you're in or if you don't care about the crowd. But when you're fucking sober and tired and recovering from COVID, I think the crowd really gets to you. Oh, I can imagine that on a good day even without COVID. That's why I avoid stuff like that. I know it's like I had fomo because I had never been to Coachella. There hasn't been a Coachella for two years, so this is the first time we were able to go to and now we live in SoCal with so much easier for us to get to. It was fun for what it was. And we made the best out of it, but I definitely don't think I had the full experience. And I can totally see where those memes come from because you get to get there and this is a crazy thing Julie, everyone's dressed up, you know, everyone's like full makeup and costumes and beautiful outfits and heels and then you get there and you feel like you don't feel sexy in that environment, okay? So like all the time you use to get ready, you have to sip, spend almost an hour on the shuttle to get to the venue. And once you get to the venue, you spend like 20 to 30 minutes walking into the entrance. So by the time you're in, you're like my feet are hurting and makeup is melted.
00:05:04 - 00:10:01
It's like a 100°. Yeah, it's definitely not what people see on Instagram end of rant. I'm glad that you were still able to go. I'm glad that you'll be visiting next week and we could be united and we can not be scared of COVID because we're in the clear for at least a little bit, just funny. Don't you feel like you're having a cape or a superpower on? It's like, now we can go into the crowds and we can go to indoor dining, you know? Let's go to Ibiza, why not? I don't know, I feel like my COVID experience has not been nearly as exciting as yours from the day that you got COVID. Not a bachelor. Like leaving the house for the first time this weekend. And I could not be more excited. That's not a bad thing at all. You got your rest, you got your negative test results, and hopefully your partner will clear up soon too, and that was an update. He got it two days later. Three days later, I think last intro, I was like, oh yeah, he's at the Clara, nope. There's a delay. There's a delay. Yeah, and the antigen test doesn't always pick up. In the early days, we got to be COVID buddies together. Four of us. Virtually together. I know. I feel like we've had so many cabos with people, especially recording, so the episode that we're about to bring to you today, we did in the midst of COVID. Yes, we like caveat every guest during this time that we're like, hey, we at COVID. And I was doing the editing for last week's brunch talk. And I was like, holy shit, I sound bad. I'm like, I did not realize how bad I sounded. In the recording, but odd playback I was like, my voice sounds so nasal. And I still feel like a bit congested now, even. So please give us some grace. No apple reviews of how bad we're speaking right now, please. Thank you. We get a pass because we had COVID. But should we talk about erectile dysfunction? That's so let's do it. I'm so excited about this episode actually because I feel like we dive into all modern dating and of course sex is a big part of modern day day. And we talk about and think about the pleasurable side of sex. But there's also a lot of pressure that comes with sex. So much. And you know, we have a guest today, dean, who wrote to us about this a while ago, actually. And you know, we are so backed up, we get so many submissions for stories, which is amazing. So keep them coming. Eventually, as proof by this, we will get to you eventually. Yes. And we read all of them. Yes, and I'm kind of glad actually we got to dean the little later because he's in a totally different place like married now and it's really actually exciting to hear about how he went through this journey and came out on the other side of it. So yeah, I think it's a really great topic. We always underestimate how much pressure there is, especially for bed in our society. Yeah, and now's a good time for all of you at home to answer some of these questions. Think about this question. What does sex mean to you? Think about that for a second. And what are some of the things that have caused you anxiety either before during or after sex? Think about that. Things have caused you anxiety. And I can answer this personally for me is sex for a long time meant penetrative sex and also the anxiety that was cost mostly due to a performance anxiety, did I was I performing at the level that I should be at? Was I pleasurable? Was I attractive enough for this person and the anxiety after sex would be like, was that good for them too? You know, like, was it as good for them as it was for me? And well, they call me again. Yes. Especially when you're in the midst of dating an early stages where you really just don't know, you know? I think for me, especially how big it to my current relationship, this was during the pandemic. I had broken up with my ex about a year give or take earlier, was pretty celibate during those that time from him to the new partner and I was really freaking nervous. I think the COVID bod situation didn't help. The COVID 15, I definitely did not feel super confident. I had a lot of nerves going in that I hadn't had in the past. And I think some of that was where I was at that moment of time. So it can change, I feel like even when you think that you're sexually confident, there may be times in your life that you get thrown for a little bit of a loop. But that just proves the point that when you first start having sex with someone, or even one night stands, everyone's just thinking about themselves.
00:10:02 - 00:15:06
Yeah. So much of that pressure is put on your own self of am I performing enough and do I look the certain way? Am I, am I meeting their needs when sex for the reproductive reason aside? Sex should be pleasurable and fun. But for some reason, sometimes we remove that goal because we feel like the goal is to be this person to be this performative sex kitten when it comes to sex. You know what's crazy too. I mean, who knows what it's like now, but I feel like when I first met my partner about a year ago in the midst of COVID, everything slowed down dramatically. And I remember sharing my insecurities with him on our third date just being like, I kind of want to wait a little and it's nothing to do about our connection or anything with you. It's just where I'm at right now. And looking back on it, it's kind of crazy that the third date would even be an assumption that you have to clarify that. I'd met this person for like three hours beforehand. It just goes to show like how much sex can be rushed in dating, that that third date was the benchmark standard and a pre COVID time. And just making out with people on first dates, it's like you don't know these people at all. It's like when you look back on it, you know? I am curious how it is now, so listeners that are actively dating definitely let us know like are you feeling like people are resorting back to how it used to be that the expectation is that you kiss again on the first day you touch. All the stuff that kind of went MIA with COVID is the third date still kind of the standard go to or have people slow down because of the world that we're still in clearly the pandemic is still not over. We are still getting COVID. That was my initial reaction when I watched the ultimatum. I am going to bring back the show again because they filmed that show in the middle of COVID. Nobody's wearing masks. They're making out with everybody. They're actually going out to clubs when the cameras are off and bring back those germs. I was like, how come nobody got COVID during this time? And they were all like sledding it up. You know, I remember actually during COVID going on a date with someone. We went to a park, and then he asked to use my bathroom. Oh, yes. And him coming in hot for the kiss. And I was so turned off by it because it was just way too invasive of personal space in the world of COVID. And you know, pre COVID, I probably would have totally embraced it. And I remember him being like, should we take this to the bedroom? Or just being like, what? The fuck is happening? It just being like, no. And I think there was a huge shift of the way we view germs the way we look at all this stuff. Yeah, it makes you pause before you kiss someone now. Is it worth it? I think that's a question. Is this germ exchange going to be worth my time? And worth the risk of catching something. And maybe most of the time, the answer is no. It's not worth it. Yeah. I mean, let's be honest, that's probably how both of our partners got COVID. You know, that's like the way that it's going to catch the fastest. I mean, maybe just from talking to, but as soon as you're in for a kiss, it's over, I feel like if you have COVID, it's like your saliva is there. My partner and I both caught COVID during a breathing meditation, so I did not give it to him. But more because there was a delay, but yeah, he probably got it for the breathing meditation. So many people said that story was so funny. He for sure. He was also opening his mouth and breathing from his womb. Okay, during this time. So there's no way he escaped that COVID meditation. But yeah, no, I think revisiting what sex means, especially in this point of where we are in the world and what COVID has done for sexual interactions and even kissing, right? I think it's important to think about what does it really mean? I feel like we did so freely give that away for so long. And you know, maybe people will come out and still say like, this isn't, I don't actually hold it to have that much of a meaning. I think everyone is very different on how they view sex, but doing these episodes, at least for me, makes me pause a bit more. Even last week's episode was Sydney, her sharing how she was like a virgin until 27 and how she viewed sex. And I think about like Kat Harris, the episode we did who still holding on to her virginity, just how much thought she put into what sex means. And I think for me, like, I haven't given it as much thought. I give a lot of other things that, but I feel like sex is not given as much thought and I love doing these episodes because it reminds me that just like everything else with modern dating, it deserves to have that beat to really reflect on. So true, it deserves that intention. That's what intentionality is about and for so long we were doing things without intention and therefore we don't get the result that we want at the end, right? That's what causes all that dating anxiety.
00:15:07 - 00:20:00
So it's good to, I agree. These episodes, especially this episode, will help you all, not just to think about erectile dysfunction. Yes, that's part of the story, but I think the ultimate learning is what do we want from sex? What is our intention from sex and how do we want to enjoy that time with our partners? It's more important than am I performing or am I getting it up? Yeah, and how to navigate when things don't go as planned because it's bound to not go as planned, whether it's on your side or your partners, it's something that is good to get ahead of even if you're not in the current situation. For sure. Cool. Well, we will leave it at that because we have a whole episode to go into it. Some quick announcements this week, make sure to check out brunch talk, which is our new installment every Sunday. We also have a sex related topic this week. I'd say maybe the opposite of today's episode, but I'll leave it at that and leave the anticipation to grow and people could check that out. And listen, but I think it's gonna be a relatable one for many people. It's also about dicks. There. That's enough. We got to leave it at that. We get a leaf some mystery. And then share this with a friend, keep that is the best way to pay it forward, pay it forward to us for, you know, our time doing this podcast and continuing to break these gas and then also for all your friends out there that could learn and gain the knowledge that you all have by being dateable. So share it with a friend, especially if they're going through something related to the topic of today. This may affect people and be just what they're looking for. And then finally, follow us on Instagram. That will be our last announcement today at dateable podcast. Yes, okay. Let's go into a few messages from our sponsors. This episode is brought to you by the book unstable from New York Times bestselling author Alexandra ivy. This bone chilling romantic thriller set in pike Wisconsin, a small town with more secrets than residents, a cold case expert and her sheriff ex-husband reunite to solve a cold case where footage of a bound and gagged girl is discovered on a mysterious old VHS tape. So here is the twist, a dead man in a cemetery is no news, unless he's found on top of a grave with a bullet through his head and instead the grave contains the remains of Stacey Gale, thought to have run away nearly three decades ago. Then, an old VCR tape arrives at the sheriff's station, showing Stacey before her death bound and terrified with a note claiming to be from her killer's apprentice. Now, Rachel Fisher's job in cold case files has brought her back to pike Wisconsin, where she'll be working alongside her ex-husband, Zac Evans. In the small town, a killer walks, twist it, ruthless, determined to continue his master's work in a less Rachel and Zach can find a way to get ahead of him, the nightmare will never end. Find unstable by Alexandra ivy at Kensington books dot com or wherever books are sold. Okay, let's hear it from dean. Sex can be fun, but sex can also be challenging because of all these societal pressures around sex and the fact that we're really a society that doesn't talk about sex as much. It's just really interesting to see how people come out of sex with all of these challenges that sometimes you're not able to discuss with your partner even. But today we want to really focus on ED. What is ED? Erectile dysfunction, and this is something that many men will experience in their lifetime or have experience. And I'm really glad that we're talking about it because it's, again, comes with the sexual pressure of always being able to, you know, a lot of men are expected to be able to perform and to perform well and to perform on demand. And that's not how the human body works. So let's get into this conversation. We've got our guests dean with us. He's 31 years old. He lives in San Francisco, been there for three years, originally from New York, and he is married. How are you, dean? Great. Thanks for having me on the show. Of course, we're so glad you're willing to talk about this. Like UA teed up, this is such an important topic. It actually made me want to look at what the official definition of erectile dysfunction was. So the definition was the inability of a man to maintain an erection sufficient for satisfying sexual activity. Is there anything that you would add to that definition did? You know, I don't think so. And I don't think I've ever defined it or it's one of those things where if you think you have ED, it's just something you know, rather than anything that I never thought about it from a dictionary definition. What, let's talk about your personal experience with ED. When did you first start to experience it in your sex life? Yeah, so I think in terms of my story, I wasn't existing relationship for about four years.
00:20:00 - 00:25:05
And I never really had any issues during that relationship, but after I got out of the relationship, I started dating again and it was a lot of new things, new partners, new dynamics, and I had one experience where it was probably the third or fourth date. She was coming back to my place and I just felt a little intimidated by her. She seemed much more experienced and confident and I felt like I had to match that. So I was feeling very nervous and I just that was my first time. I couldn't get it up. So I wrote that as a one off, but it just kept on happening like the second time the third time I was not something that I thought could possibly happen to me before I turned 60, but it was suddenly an issue that was in affecting my dating life. And when you say kept happening, was it with the same woman or was it with different people? Yeah, it was first with the same partner, but then I thought maybe it's just her, but then with two other partners, I had the same dynamic and that's where I started freaking out more over time. Yeah, I think that is a misconception that people think ED is reserved for when you're older. But many people, when they're much younger, experiencing it and there's just so much stigma around it. So I'm curious to know when this first started happening to you and you start seeing this as a pattern. What were some of the thoughts that were going through your mind? Yeah, I think before that it was being ignorant about it and just trying to ignore it and denying that, right? Sort of like not trying to admit to myself that was a problem. But then once it became a pattern, I started entering like a freak out kind of OCD stage almost where. I think there's a lot of behaviors I had where it would be kind of compulsive, felt like I would try to test myself to see if I could get a erection randomly. Like before I went on a date, it would be like, um, does it still work kind of deal, right? And of course, that's not how it works, right? Being by yourself is very different than being with a partner. So it's not like that testing did anything. It was just me being on edge and wanting to reassure myself. Well, yeah, the board you get in your head too. I can imagine it only builds up the pressure. So you said when you were in the last relationship of four years, you didn't experience this. Do you think that it was because you had a level of comfort in a relationship versus being with new partners or why do you think that was the case? Yeah, I think absolutely. I think when it's not something that pops into your mind, it's much easier. It just feels comfortable and natural, but new experiences can get us into a thinking and worrying phase, right? And then I felt like once I was in that mindset, it was harder for me to get out. So it's kind of like a seal was broken for me once I had that first experience. Was this kind of like the first time that you were actually dating or had you done dating before? I had dated before to, but this was definitely the bulk of my dating experience being in that long relationship. So maybe to some extent it was my first time really getting back into the market and having new experiences. Was it like your first time using dating apps or had you done them before? I had done it before, but it definitely changed a lot. After 5 years where it was still new at when I started initially, but when I started dating again, it was suddenly this is the way you meet your partner. And were you able to communicate about this with any of your partners because I'm asking because I had an experience with someone who had ED and we had a relationship where he was never able to get it up, but he just never want to address it. So then I just assume he would always be like, oh, it had too much alcohol, or I'm so tired. And to this day, I'm still sitting here thinking like, was I just not good enough? Was I not attractive enough? I wish we had an open communication over something or conversation about it. So were you able to talk about this with any of your partners? Yeah, I think communication is something that is important and every relationship, but especially with ED. But I would say that it's more of like a leader in the game kind of thing, right? I think there's a lot of work that the guy needs to do of being able to face it head on first, right? It sounds like your partner was more in that earlier denial phase, right? When you're in that state, you're not able to communicate because you're not ready to, maybe. So I would say that talking about it is important, but it is something that you have to build up to. And I think there are ways to build up to that. But it's definitely not easy. So were you able to because I could see that it would be hard with people that you were just dating, right? Let's say you've went on a few dates, you don't know this person super well. Can I take us back to where you were? Where was your head space about wanting to talk about it at that time? Yeah, I mean, I think to be honest, a lot of the partners that I had early on, I was taking more of that hope approach where, okay, maybe this time will be different.
00:25:06 - 00:30:01
I don't have to talk about it. I don't have to have a conversation about it. But what I realized was that actually it was an asset for me to talk about it because everyone has performance anxiety. It's not just a guide thing, right? And I felt like when I was actually comfortable enough to admit that I had ED. It was actually taken as a sign of me being confident. And so that realization helped me have that conversation more upfront. But I would say that it took a while to get there. And how did you get there? How did you have that revelation that you're like, I can just talk about this? Yeah, I mean, I think you guys sort of talk about this a lot in your podcast, but a lot of it ties to expectations, right? We feel like we have to meet expectations. We feel like our partners are holding us to this higher standard. And a lot of the work that I did earlier on and credit to my therapist was basically let's look at these expectations, figure out what's actually causing the anxiety, what's causing you to have the denial. And then let's just have an open look at them, right? And then once you actually look at some of these expectations, it's like, oh, okay, it's not that scary anymore, right? And so that really opened me up to having that conversation with partners. Well, I want to focus on that a little bit more. At what point did you decide I need to seek help? And what were those initial conversations with the therapist like? Yeah, so I think what I did early on was first go to see a regular doctor and rule it out being a physical problem. I got my testosterone checked and basically all my indicators are fine. So the doctor was like, yeah, it's probably a 100% psychological. So I think from there, it was like, okay, well, if it's my mental game, let's work on this. So I contacted a few therapists. And I started on that journey. Yeah, and to your question about, what were those first few conversations like, it was first talking me off a cliff of, look, am I normal am I what's wrong with me? I'm still my 20s. How is this happening to me, right? It's also talking me off the I need a quick fix, right? Give me something that I'm going to treat this right away. This is not supposed to happen to me. So a lot of it was setting my expectations about, hey, this could be a longer journey. You might need to take time and we need to dig into some of these things in a deeper level instead of, all right, you're going to take a pill and that's the end of that, right? I think pills are something that can be very helpful, but if it's a purely psychological issue, if you're just using it like a crutch, when that crutch fails, you're totally screwed. So I felt like I really needed to meet with this therapist and do that mental work to be on the path to recovery. I want to dig into these expectations around sex. But before we do that, I want to go back to your data life because I can imagine this would be really hard to date when this is in the back of your mind. This is great dates and then it's going to get intimate and this is going to happen. Could you kind of walk us through how your data life was, how this impacted it and then what happened with these partners when this would happen? Yeah, I mean, definitely, it was tough to date with this issue, right? I think learning to deal with needing to, I think it's still ties back to expectations, right? Because the man is supposed to initiate the man is supposed to be sexual and be suave and strong and forceful. And it was hard for me to be confident when I was feeling not confident, right? And especially I'm in Asian men and Asian men, I think traditionally in society, it's like you're definitely being emasculated and from a dating perspective, Asian men are desired the least, right? So it was doubly challenging. So I think the biggest thing was, it did affect my confidence. I'm naturally pretty secure in my attachment style, but I definitely got into my head a lot and I thought a lot about different things and I think it really affected my early partnerships. I think the first one that I had the issue with, it really ended poorly because I didn't know how to talk about it. I didn't know how to deal with it, and then my partner at the time thought it was her issue and she wasn't feeling good. And so every session we would have just ended in disappointment is definitely recipe for failure in her relationship. That is so crazy to think about that you were in a stable relationship where you didn't have any of these issues and all of a sudden you found yourself dating again and it's because of these societal pressures and expectations, you are back at experiencing these issues that you didn't have when you were in your last relationship.
00:30:02 - 00:35:10
I feel like that says a lot about modern day in general. It's just like, it gives us so much of these insecurities and pressures for really no reason because you were like the whole goal is to get into a stable relationship, right? But like in the beginning stage of dating, it's just so much anxiety around it. Yeah, absolutely. I think it was definitely tough to be able to date in that setting and it took time for me to feel confident again and get my groove back. Well yeah, I can imagine too for both of you and you and the partner that you were experiencing this with. I can only imagine how defeating it must be. Every time you go to have sex to just be like, well, that didn't work out. Now we both feel bad. I wouldn't want to do it. I totally get where it's just so hard that if everything else is going well, this is the one thing. I mean, I know this woman and other partners are not on this call. But did you ever talk with her further about how she was feeling? Because I definitely have been there myself too. And you do think you're doing something wrong. Yeah, I did have conversations with some of my partners and I think what I took away from that was it's really important for the partner to take care of themselves too, right? Because it will impact you emotionally to thinking it's your fault or you're not attractive enough. And even though you know that the answer is, it's not you. You still have to keep reminding yourself that. So it's not good enough to just know that something that you have to keep reminding yourself of and it's something that I would say that it's really helpful if the partners is able to have outlets and be able to express their own insecurities to someone else because the worst thing that can happen is for both parties to have insecurities and you have more problems than what you started with. Well, I think it just speaks to the expectations around sex and our society so much too that we have to finish and it's almost like if the woman doesn't finish, it's not that big a deal, but there's something wrong when the man does. And I've definitely seen myself fall in that trap too, but it's something that's been ingrained in all of us men and women that in order to have good sex like the guy needs to get off essentially. Yeah, for sure. My therapist was talking about try this thing called non goal orientation, right? Yeah. It's not about the orgasm, right? And I get it. I get this concept, but in practice, it's so hard, because we're so, so trained on this is the goal. This is what success is measured by. In the narrative that we've been told, ever since we were teenagers, is basically men can get it up whenever and wherever. Don't look at them in the wrong way because then they'll have the boner, you know, don't touch them. Don't touch your lower back. They're getting a boner. You feel like it's just a simple thing for a man to just get it up. It's like the most basic foundational sexual response to your own attractiveness, but that's not the case, right? So I want to get back to now that you're married and how are you able to go from the work that you did with your therapist to now being in a committed relationship? Yeah, I think it definitely took a lot of listening to my body. I think you guys talk about a lot on the podcast as well, but it starts with taking care of myself and working out more eating better helped as basics, right? But a lot of it is also learning over time to respond to my body better. New relationships are just not comfortable. I don't know this person yet. So I can't expect my body to be like, all right, let's have sex now, right? Yeah. And so I really was forced to listen to my body more. And some of that was also retraining my body a little bit to be more sensitive. For example, I did things like mindful masturbation. And this is a term that my therapist also introduced to me, but basically when we're having sex, a lot of it is sensual, a lot of it is, it's not visual the way that porn is, it's also just a very soft and something that involves a lot of our senses. And so retraining your body involves being sensitive to all these signals instead of the porn that I was watching was definitely not the same as having sex with a partner. So the goal and what helped me a lot was making sure that I slowed down, I listened to my body, I did things that were a lot less stimulating, and that led me to be more sensitive during actual sex with my partners. Interesting. So when you met someone new, right? Would you dated? I guess putting it in timelines of your current wife. Did you start to get comfortable before her or was it really her that kind of got you to feel like you were starting to overcome this? Yeah, I think it really took me getting into a stable relationship for me to get over the hump.
00:35:11 - 00:40:06
And I think without being in a stable situation where you're able to communicate well with your partner, you have that security, you start to build the right patterns with your partner. I think it really took that. When I was dating it, it was very hard for me to be consistent and to feel like I was comfortable. So when you first start dating your wife, you're now wife, were you getting ahead of the problem and just telling her what was going on? Yeah, I did. I did bring it up to her very early on and she was very understanding she was very nonjudgmental. She helped me feel safe about it and she was open to trying to be non goal oriented, even though in practice it was still difficult. She definitely did a lot of things to put me at ease. And did you guys wait longer to have sex? Like, did you ease into other things before, you know, kind of going towards intercourse? Yeah, we definitely experimented with a number of different things like just having an only touch session, giving each other massages. Doing things that aren't just about, all right, penis and vagina, sex, right? Right. I'm not saying that all of these experiences were necessarily natural or easy to come by since we just don't have these patterns in our society, but having a partner that's willing to experiment was really helpful in my road to recovery. And how far into the relationship did you start all this experimentation? We probably started about a month and a half or two months in. It took a while for us to build that trust with each other and be comfortable. And at that time, I was already being more cautious about jumping into a sexual situation right away, right? So we had a longer build up and that definitely helped to. It's so crazy in today's world that a log build up is like a bump and a half two months. It's not even that long when you think about it. But in today's world, when the expectation is third date, it is a long time. Yeah. So before you met your now wife, did you take like a break from dating at all while you were working through all this or kind of walk us through, you know, like there's this gap of I've identified this is a problem. It's getting in the way of my current data life and budding relationships. How did you kind of move to the next stage? Yeah, that's really insightful. I did take a break during that time. It took me probably a year and a half to go from my first ED issue to feeling like I've got over a hump with my now wife. And during that time, it wasn't dating throughout, right? I think after the first few months, I just put my body in such a difficult situation that it just shut down. And so I had the time I was forced to sort of go back to drawing board. So just because I wasn't dating doesn't mean I couldn't make progress, even with other people. So one thing I did was I went partner dancing. You were able to build up sensuality in a safer environment. And so I sort of tried different avenues of helping my body be more comfortable in different situations, right? I think a lot of what I was doing was also being able to talk about it with some of my friends. And I think that's a big step, actually, because first you're in denial mode, you can't even admit it to yourself. But then to really overcome it, psychologically, you have to really believe that it's not an issue that's impacting your life. It's not something that you're shameful about or you feel a lot of stigma towards, right? And so once I was able to reveal it to my therapist, I was then able to reveal it to a close friend and after I got a good reception from him. I started talking about it to other friends and it kind of snowballed and I'm lucky to have a friend group that was very supportive. I imagine that if someone reacts negatively to that story, it could send you down a tougher path, but I was able to have great conversations about it. I feel like Friends are so essential on the dating journey. It's one of those things that is the most overlooked support system that you need in, you know, especially for men, there are studies that have less close friends than women do and to go to a subject like this. I really do commend you for being able to have those conversations. I think a lot of people just wouldn't like they would just be like, I'm gonna deal with this. I'll figure it out. And that's just such a smart way to do this too, because the more you talk about it, the more you normalize the conversation. So when you do start dating again, you don't feel so odd bringing up the conversation. So with your current wife, how far into your dating timeline did you bring up this topic? I think definitely it was something that I had to mention pretty early on by the first end of the first month.
00:40:06 - 00:45:01
We had talked about it and I think it was something where you can't really hide this for so long, right? Right. You guys are saying about the expectations of one month to two months being a long time. That's definitely true. And I felt like I had to have a conversation. Well, yeah, then she starts being like, does this guy like me? It brings up all this stuff, right? It's so interesting because I feel like we always turn to ourselves. We're all selfish inherently selfish people that we always charge how it's impacting us and it's never like, oh, it could be something that has zero to do with us. Yeah. Let's hold that thought for a few messages. This episode is brought to you by the baby or bus podcast. Did you know that one in 8 couples struggle with fertility? That's over 7 million people in the U.S. alone, and the risk of miscarriage, it's more common than breast cancer or diabetes. The challenges of your fertility journey, we don't talk about them enough. 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Or did you meet your wife just more randomly? I think it happened to coincide with me having two months before I started a new job. And it was just a natural time for me to jump right back in and get a lot of dating in before I had to focus on work again. So I think it'll just naturally come up, it will feel like it's time. And I don't think it applies to necessarily my particular situation or having ED in general. We all need breaks here and there with the dating because it can be overwhelming and can feel like a grind. So whenever that feels like it's more palatable to jump in, that's when I think we should jump back in. I would love to explore some of the conversations you've had because I think that's kind of the blocker for a lot of people is how do I communicate this with someone new I'm seeing. So could you give us verbatim some of the conversations you had? How are you able to bring it up in early dating? Yeah, I think one of the key lines I use was probably, hey, this is really hard for me to admit, but I've been struggling with ED for a while. I think that's the main phrase, right? And then that leads to a reaction for the partner and if they react positively or in a way that shows curiosity, then I can review more.
00:45:01 - 00:50:07
Then we can start having a conversation of, hey, I think for the first few sessions, I want to take it slow. Let's try these things. The precise thing probably depends on you and what you think would work best for you. But for me, it would be I think it would be better if we started out just touching and not going into penetration. Let's just play and explore. And see where it takes us, but not necessarily needing to have either of us orgasm. Oh, that's how all initial sex should be. In dating, right? Like you don't need to go straight to penetration because I've had some pretty bad initial early sex. It's all about exploring each other's bodies and being curious about each other. That makes it for a much better sex life than just going straight into, like you said, the goal oriented penetration. Totally. Once you progress a little bit, there are simple things you can say like, hey, when you do this, that turns me on a lot. Very simple, but you're just giving each other information or, hey, I'm not feeling this, or if you did this, it would make things easier for me, right? And a lot of that is setting up both of you for success. And that makes making it easier, making sure that you guys understand where both of you are at. And so simple phrases just to communicate where you're at, we're really important at the time. And did you have these convos with anyone else besides your Dao wife or was she kind of like the first person back after you've had these revelations? There were definitely conversations I had with other partners, but I think with my now wife was definitely where we were able to take that deeper and have ongoing conversations. I think the initial conversation was easier to have really when you're the continual experimentation is something that comes over time and only happens in the course of months and not over two or three sessions. Were you met with any sort of bad reactions when you had these conversations? I would say that in general, the reactions I had for my partners were very understanding. That being said, I was often worried that maybe they're just saying that. And they're actually going to judge me for it. And so I think there's still stuff going on under the surface that it's not just because you have the conversation, things are good. I think that's where you have to continue to communicate. I think you having to continue to reassure each other that, hey, it's not because you're not attractive enough or, hey, I really like you. And this doesn't affect me liking you at all, right? And so it's not just a one time conversation. There's a lot of repetition involved too. And with some of these other people, not your now wife, was the reason it didn't work out. Was it related to this? Or did it have nothing to do with this aspect? I don't think it really had anything to do with it. I think after the first few bad experiences where the relationship was definitely being held back by having ED, it progressed in a way where. No, it was just we were not compatible and not, oh, there's something wrong with our sex life. The zillion other things that could go wrong. So many days. How do you think do you think it was your current wife and the way she was able to meet you? Or do you think it was where you were on the journey or a combination of both? I think it's definitely a combination of both where I was finally ready in terms of listening to my body more and chilling out about it overall. And then also her being just really non judgmental and helping me feel safe. So it's definitely a combination. You talked about her some of her reactions. I would love to get into that a little bit more for a partner to show that compassion and understanding. What are some of the other things that she said to you after you had revealed this topic? Yeah, I don't think it's necessarily anything she said. It's more the way that she said it, which is very soft and you can tell when someone really cares about you and is trying to understand what's going on. So I don't think there's anything in particular she said that was game changing, but it was just me feeling like I could be comfortable with her and I could share with her and communicate with her. I know you said that you started off doing more experimentation and getting easing into things. Did you ever hit a point where it just felt like you didn't have to worry about it? Or was this always something that was kind of top of mind in your sex life? It definitely hit a point where I wasn't worrying about it as much. But I will be honest in that this is an ongoing journey in the sense that it will still pop back into my head and there's nothing I can do about it when it does other than just try to stay in the moment. But I would say that it will vary from time to time and there are times where I'm not worried about it at all and I'm just fully in it and there are times where to make sure that we pause and we don't get ourselves into a situation where I'm in a negative place again because I wasn't feeling good.
00:50:08 - 00:55:02
Right. Are there any tactics that you share with people that kind of help you stay present and not be in your head? Because I do think that is one of the biggest challenges with this is the more we get in our head with it the harder it becomes to not have it happen. Right. Yeah, I think a lot of this ties back to practices around meditation too, right? The way that we all try to deal with anxiety is also partially solved by meditating and having that approach where you're just present your practicing your paying attention to your breathing to your body. So a lot of those things are not just ED practices. They're things that will help you have better mental health overall. And so I think that's what I recommend. I think I might have mentioned sensory awareness, but if not, I think that's really a practice where I remember sitting outside in a park and just for 20 minutes would turn to one sense after another and just focus on that sense. So for example, like just trying to smell and seeing what smells come through my nostrils and then moving to site and just seeing every blade of grass. It sounds a little bit crazy too, but I think it's part of the practice that I built around trying to be more sensitive and more aware of my body and that's definitely helped me be more present in interactions with my partners. I feel like that's something we should be doing all the time. This sensory mindfulness and meditation is so important. We actually had a guest on. I'm sure zod, who came up with the positive intelligence quotient and he has this whole practice around positive intelligence, but the exercises are all based on singling out your senses. So you're only feeling one thing at a time. And after you're done with that, basically calms your mind so you can tackle whatever issue or challenge that you have at hand. So I think that's just something we can all learn to do. And I think also with sex, a lot of times, we're not feeling it. There's just like you're doing it. You're going through the motions, but we're not taking the time to be mindful and be present to feel it. And I mess them on recently and he says something to me and I was like, this is so simple, but he's like the whole goal of sex should be fun. Yeah. That's like the goal. Experimenting, playing around, and getting to know your partner's body, that should be fun. I think this conversation definitely reveals that side that we can all do more of, especially in the bedroom. Yeah. Definitely. I feel like D, even as you were just saying all that stuff, I'm like, oh my God, there's so many senses that could happen. During sex. And we're not thinking about any of it. You know, we're not taking the bow bit where jumping to the finish line, you know, we're so goal oriented that we're not enjoying the process, which I think goes back to what you were saying, UA. It's supposed to be fun. If we're just trying to skip to the end, what's the point of even doing it the first time? For sure. And even this entire E journey, I feel like has been an opportunity for me to experiment. And even have good experiences from it. And it's something where it's not just a negative thing that was burdening to me. It's something that pushed me and helped me grow and led me to experiences that were fun. So I think that's definitely also something that I want to make sure folks that are suffering from this their framing in a way that helps them have a more positive mindset and have it as an opportunity for the growth. I feel like sex to we think about it in such a hetero perspective of penetration. Experiencing ED has it made you more exploratory in other avenues of sex. Yeah, I would say that it has, but not to the extent that I expected. I think it was easy when I felt like I was back in the groove and not dealing with ED to revert back to the traditional way of having sex. So I think a lot of the experimentation was during this time when I was trying to get back there. I wish I could say that, yeah, I've totally transformed my sex life because of that, but I think it's still an ongoing process where we all can be better about experimenting. And I think it's a tool that we have in our toolbox. And even if someone's had a lot of sexual partners, doesn't mean that they know your body. Sometimes we feel like, oh my gosh, this person's dated for a long time. They are probably more experienced at sex than I am. It doesn't mean that they are more experienced with your body. Just means that they've done it with other people. So I don't think I can see how that could be intimidating, but that shouldn't be a barometer for how someone will be in bed with you. And dean, you know, you're the one that reached out to us and you really want to tell your story.
00:55:02 - 01:00:02
So I'm curious to know what are some of the things that you wish you had heard in the beginning of your journey that you want to tell someone now so you can pay it forward. Yeah, for sure. I think a lot of it is around just telling folks that there is an alternative path. I think I mentioned it upfront, but it's not just about the quick fix and about taking a pill and being done with it. I think it's really an opportunity to dig into yourself and be a more resilient and better human. And so I think what I would say is just chill out, right? I think that's one of the biggest thing. I'm on the ED subreddit from time to time. And people are super freaked out about it every week I see a post that's like, oh yeah, I'm 18 and I didn't have morning wood last week. Like, what's going on? And chill out. That is nothing to do with anything. And I think in general, people just worry so much about ED, and of course wearing an obsessing just makes things worse. So I think it's really about chilling out experimenting and trying to get yourself in a place where you're able to treat it like a normal thing that you talk about at the dinner table. I love that. While we're dishing out advice, is there any advice you'd have for a partner that supporting someone going through ED? Yeah, I would say definitely number one is still to take care of yourself first, right? You don't want to have both partners having issues and them creating this extra tough not to resolve. And so it's really about making sure that you check in with yourself. Am I feeling insecure because we're having issues in the bedroom and reminding yourself that, hey, it's not me. This is something that I can help my partner with, but it's not something that is because I'm not attractive enough. I think that's one thing. Another thing is just creating safety, right? I think my wife did a really good job of just being curious, being warm, and that's a huge part of it, right? A lot of these guys are probably in that first stage where they're still not able to talk about it. They feel shame. They're in denial, right? And a lot of it is being in a safe relationship in a safe environment and being able to finally address it and start experimenting in start coming out with solutions. So I think the last piece to that is doing some gentle nudging and figuring out where the guys in the process and if he's really in that denial process and still in a bad mental space, like gently helping him find a therapist and in a way where it's not like, oh, you're broken, like you need to be fixed here, but it's more like, hey, I want us to have a really fulfilling life in general, but also in our sex life. And I want to work together to help you find a therapist. So that we can build a stronger relationship. I feel like sometimes we think that we need the magic words, but what I'm gathering for you and so much of relationships, it's just being there and being open and the way you show up is so much more important than even having the solution. No one's looking for the solution. They're just looking to be heard and see it. Absolutely. Well, thank you so much, dean for coming on and sharing this. I think this is a really important conversation. It's a conversation that probably is living in a lot of people's heads and not out in the open, so I'm glad that we're changing that. I mean, the biggest takeaways I have. First and foremost, just how interconnected our body and minds are. Never fails to amaze me. And I like that obviously checked it out at the doctor. Made sure that there was a reason that you needed to turn to meds, but then making those connections and looking at what is it that's really the deeper piece that I can work through is so important. So I think that's definitely one that stands out to me. The other piece is just how much more connection, even the things that we see as flaws or insecurities can bring. If we choose to let it be that way, the fact that you were able to share this with your now wife, you were able to see one, I'm sure the way she was receptive to this too made you realize like this is someone I need to hold on to. And having you open up to her, I'm sure brought you closer to her too. So so often we think that we need to hide all the stuff that's less than perfect, but oftentimes by just being like, I think that really is the true definition of vulnerable. It's not unloading all the trauma, but really being like, this is what's going on with me. I need your support, asking for that, is so important. So everything that is less than desirable that comes our way, we have many ways of approaching it. And if we could always turn to connection, that's going to help with our data and love lives. Oh, 1000%. A 1000%. I feel like ED is just the clinical term for what many of us have experienced, even as women.
01:00:02 - 01:05:03
Because erectile dysfunction is a lot more visual. You can see it, not doing what it's supposed to quote unquote supposed to do. But many women feel this as well. It's like sometimes I'm not as turn on as I think I should be, or I should feel this horny right now. And when we had Emily nagoski on our podcast, she talks about the sexual accelerators and breaks. And sometimes, if you have so many breaks, no matter how many accelerators you get, you're just not going to get turned on. I think that's a fact we need to face. So instead of trying to find all the stimulation, all the porn, all the sexual images, if your brakes are what's stopping you from getting turned on, you're never going to get there if you don't address your brakes first, right? So I think that's a really important point for me to take away is like, sometimes it's not about the stimulation. It's about what is in my mind right now, that's stopping me from getting to that point of wanting to explore this sexually. And I also think it's very important for us to talk about this openly because I hate that we are calling this performance anxiety. Why is this a performance? It shouldn't be performative at all. Nobody should be performing when they're having sex, you're giving, if anything else, you're experiencing this together, and I think that is mainly the issue that we're facing when it comes to sex is that we feel like we need to perform. We feel like we need to be on all the time. That is just so much pressure for a human being. So I think we need to get rid of that performative mindset and think about sex as non goal oriented. It's not about penetration. It's just about having fun and exploring each other's bodies. I would definitely choke that up to media, too. It's like the way that we poured and movies and all the stuff says that it's just what you do with sex. And I think we need to really accept that all of our bodies are wired differently. What turns one of us on is not going to turn the other person on. And how we get to feel our dot is going to be different for a person to person instead of just thinking that we're all in this blanket. This is how it works across the board. Exactly. Any last parting words for our listeners. Yeah, I would say that just set yourself up for success, right? Make it as easy as possible on you. That means chilling out about it and reducing those expectations. It means not just doing wishful thinking about communicating ahead of time. It means try to make sure that you don't have a lot of stressors when you're trying to have sex, the same hour, right? And use that as an opportunity to experiment and push for your own growth. And in general, I think I'm happy to chat to anyone if they feel like I can be helpful. So I can create an email address and maybe you guys can include in the show notes. Yeah, of course, that's so kind of you. That is truly paying it forward, so we are happy to do this. Thank you so much for offering to feel some questions. And it just shows that whatever you're going through right now, you're not alone. There's someone else. There's many other people who are going through the same thing. So never feel like you're alone in this. And that's our purpose here with a date of a podcast is to create this forum so that you know you're not alone going through this and there are other people who've gone through it and they can tell you how they got through it. So thank you again dean for coming on our show and telling us your story. And for all of our listeners, we love to hear from you too. One way is to you can email us hello at dateable podcast dot com or you can DM us at table podcast on Instagram or you know what, head over to Apple podcasts and give us a 5 star review. That's where we read all of the messages. Something nice and sweet would be great, but that's our platform for feedback. So please do so. Pay it forward like Deena's. Yes, pay it forward. Okay, now we're gonna wrap up this episode. The dateable podcast is part of the frolic podcast network find more podcasts you'll love at frolic media slash podcasts. Want to continue the conversation? First, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the handle at dateable podcast. Tag us in any post with a hashtag stay dateable and trust us. We look at all those pose. Then head over to our website dateable podcast dot com. There, you'll find all the episodes as well as articles, videos, and our coaching service with vetted industry experts. You can also find our premium Y series where we dissect, analyze, and offer solutions to some of the most common dating conundrums. We're also downloadable for free on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Google Play, overcast, stitcher radio, and other podcast platforms. Your feedback is valuable to us, so don't forget to leave us a review. And most importantly, remember to stay dateable. 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