Sometimes, it happens. You're in bed with your partner, and you're wearing your new lace, cheeky underwear that hugs you in the most flattering way. You feel like an unstoppable sex goddess, and you’re ready to get it on. But to your dismay, your partner’s penis does not seem to be quite as ready. In fact, it does nothing; it remains limp. You might be wondering what you could have done to cause this, but know that there are so many reasons your partner isn’t getting hard, none of which have to do with you.
Of course, it's important to remember that your partner's erection is not the only thing that can make or break your sex life with them. "Focusing on erections is a product of our patriarchal society," certified sex therapist Rosara Torrisi tells Elite Daily. "This is extremely harmful for everyone." Plus, there are plenty of ways to be physically intimate with or without a hard penis. "For most clitoris owners, an erect penis is not essential for sexual pleasure," Rosara says. But still, it may be confusing for you when your partner isn't able to get hard. Below are some answers that should help clear things up.
1. They Have Stage Fright
No, your hotness isn't turning them off, but it might actually be making them nervous. This is a situation in which their insecurities and anxieties may be psyching them out and causing a physical reaction.
“Negative expectations for erectile functioning … heighten anxiety and reduce the ability for erections and pleasure to flourish,” Torrisi says. “Anxiety often shuts down the sexual body.”
Chemically, when sexual performance anxiety occurs, stress hormones constrict the blood vessels, which means less blood is flowing to the penis, making it harder to get hard.
2. They're On Medication
Certain medications can disrupt a person’s sex life. Specifically, anti-depressants can cause significant decreases in libido and inhibit someone’s ability to get a boner.
“Antidepressants can be super-important for a depressed person and can really be helpful. But they are often not especially helpful in bed,” Carol Queen, staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, tells Elite Daily. “People of all gender IDs have reported arousal and orgasm issues when taking them. If antidepressants are getting in the way of sexual functioning and satisfaction, tell your doctor.”
3. They're Masturbating A Lot
“Some people seem to be able to enjoy lots of masturbation and lots of partner sex — yay for them,” Queen says. “But for others, engaging in lots of masturbation takes the edge off of the ability to get aroused with a partner.”
If this appears to be a problem for your partner, Queen recommends they try paying attention to how long it takes for them to get hard again after masturbating. Then, she says, your partner can try to put in place a “masturbating embargo” for a specific period of time before they know they want to get hard with you.
“There’s nothing wrong with masturbation,” Queen adds. “But be mindful of the effects it has.”
4. They're Stressed
Maybe they have a lot on their plate at work, or they just got into an argument with their mom. Whatever it is, stress can certainly play a role in whether or not your partner can get hard.
Plus, going back to the whole performance anxiety thing, if your partner’s stress is stopping them from getting hard, they’ll probably feel even more stress about the fact that they can't get hard. Then it just becomes a vicious cycle of stress that they can't escape, no matter how hard they try.
5. They’ve Had A Lot To Drink
“People think alcohol is a sexy beverage, and it does suppress nervousness—but it also suppresses the nervous system,” Queen explains.
Drinking in moderation is fine (if you’re of-age, of course), but if your partner drinks in excess, the toxins from the alcohol that their liver couldn't break down can make their way to other parts of their body, including their penis.
6. They Have A Complicated Relationship With Their Sexuality
Queen says there are many things related to one’s understanding of their sexuality that might complicate whether they can get hard: “Fear or shame, trying to live up to gendered expectations (or identity!) that [don’t] feel right, issues of sexual orientation (including being on the asexuality spectrum), having a history of abuse — to name a few,” she explains. “It can take some time for a person to work these issues out, and in the meantime, they can affect sexual comfort and functioning.”
7. They’re Preoccupied
Queen calls this “the benign version of stress.” Maybe they were scrolling through Facebook earlier and saw a picture of their ex, and now they’re having a momentary flashback to this harrowing relationship. Or, they’ve got a big project coming up and they’re excited to get started on it.
It's not that they don’t love you, or that they don’t find you attractive; it's just that sometimes people have unexpected, uncontrollable physical reactions to their own thoughts.
8. They’re Feeling Guilty
Maybe you two got into a fight the other day, and they’re currently feeling some remorse. Or, maybe they were raised to feel shame about being sexual.
“There are plenty of sources of guilt, some of them sex-negative but others having more to do with interpersonal behavior or ethics,” Queen says. In this case, it’s best for your partner to try to talk things out, whether the conversation is with you, a trusted friend, or a therapist.
9. They’re Just Not Horny Right Now
There's this weird idea floating around that people who can get erections want to have them all the time and want to have sex literally every second of the day. But just like you sometimes aren't in the mood, sometimes sometimes your partner might not be, either.
Of course, the lack of erection doesn’t mean you and your partner can’t get physically intimate. “Whether or not an erection occurs, sex can still happen, pleasure can still happen,” Torrisi says. “Dare I say it, even orgasms can still happen.”
And if you or your partner don’t feel like doing anything sexual, there are still plenty of things you can do feel physically connected with one another without having sex of any kind.
Additional reporting by Lexi Williams.