For sexuality and intimacy counselling, I see many clients who are embarrassed by their concerns. Often, I am the first person whom these people talk to about their sexual problems. One client described the effect’s of premature ejaculation on his self-esteem. What made this particular client stand out for me, was the way he said his premature ejaculation made him feel. One of the things he said in his first session was: “I don’t feel like a real man.” He was not the first client who felt this way, but the first to use such powerful words.
There are so many messages that people receive about sexuality as they grow up. If these are all taken to heart, I am sure that no one would be considered ‘real’. Our society is so damaging for All the human beings navigating their way in this life. However, the messages about masculinity may be more damaging to men’s self-esteem, as it is narrower than the allowed possibilities for femininity.
Men grow up thinking that they are supposed to want sex all the time. They are supposed to have sex for hours. They are supposed to be ready and hard at any moment. That being hard at the ‘wrong’ moment is embarrassing. These messages are damaging for many men whose personal experiences do not look and feel like the one they have been to told to expect.
Premature ejaculation is when a man ejaculates or orgasms very early once penetration has been achieved. This can be immediately or within the first minute. Some men who ejaculate prematurely, are sometimes able to have penetrative sex for longer . However, they do not always know what is causing them to ejaculate early, or what allows them to go longer. This experience goes against the societal messages about men lasting ‘long’ during sex. It can lead some men to avoid sexual interaction for fear of humiliation. This can erode a man’s feelings of worth as a man, among other emotional-psychological consequences.
So, with this client, we talked about the things that may have been contributing towards his premature ejaculation. Previous sexual history, anxiety, self-esteem… I gave him homework to experiment with different ways to self pleasure. After a few sessions, he reported that he had gone on a romantic weekend away with his partner. His words when relating this story created a catch in my throat. He said: “I had sex like a real man.” He told me that the exercises I had given him for homework had helped him to gain control over when he wanted to ejaculate. He felt like a king.
And I felt grateful. Grateful that I had been part of his journey, as he embraced different aspects of himself. Grateful that I am able to touch people’s lives in such a profound way, by providing a safe space to talk about the scary things. The things that make people feel unworthy. A space to talk until these things no longer control their lives, and they can begin to control the “hows” and the “whens” of their own lives.