As a "real" man you need to be hard!
Sexual performance anxiety in men
Most men struggle with what is commonly called "performance anxiety". The term performance already gives clues as to where the underlying problem starts. For men, being ready for sexual engagement in the right way and at the right time can be overwhelming, and in many cases, lead to nervousness and anxiety. It is a vicious cycle, since it is often exactly this anxiety that actually creates those issues that men worry about.

When sexuality becomes an act that needs to be performed, it creates disconnection from the actual desire and the wisdom of the body. Our awareness is focused on our minds, which are engaged in self-critical, judgemental thoughts that leave us tense, anxious, unable to feel into the body and respect its rhythm and pace. Most of our energy is then caught up in evaluating how well the "performance" is being received rather than being connected to our desire and sensations.
Performing based on what we think is expected leaves no space for authentic expression of desire and the needs we actually have.
Regardless of the level of trauma, basis for an empowered decision derives from being truly connected to the body and listen to what it communicates to us. Perceiving our boundaries beyond what we may think we want is key to being able to also communicate clearly with another person. Instead of relying on the hope that the other person magically knows what we want and need, an empowered decision opens up the body to relax into the trust. Trust towards yourself and the other, which enables a whole new dimension of pleasure and joy in intimate relating.
Male sexual dysfunction is a broad term referring to difficulties with having or maintaining an erection, experiencing orgasm and premature ejaculation. Apart from some medical conditions and the influence of different medications the most common cause for those symptoms is related to the stress and anxiety we create ourselves around who we think we need to be. Most men have a strong believe that they need to be hard at the right time for their partner to have a satisfying sexual experience and to be considered a real man. As mentioned above it is exactly this kind of pressure that disconnects us from being embodied, relaxed and truly feeling what our body needs and desires, which then leads to the body not responding the way we wish it would.
Therefore, to direct our attention away from self-evaluation and worrying thoughts it is very helpful to be present in the moment and focus on the actual sensations and pleasurable feelings that are generated by the body. Letting thoughts and worries drop into the background and allowing for slowness and for the perfectly imperfect.
Have you ever considered sharing with your partner what is going on inside of you instead of trying to hide anything uncomfortable or potentially embarrassing? For many women a man who can show himself in his vulnerability is actually communicating strength and empowerment. It takes a certain kind of self-love, acceptance and care to show who you are in the moment. This creates a space of loving allowance for both partners to immerse into the now. This can be a very nourishing basis for real pleasure and desire to unfold and to be expressed in a safe space. Relaxation and trust in ourselves and the other open up the connection between mind and body and allow for the sensations to be felt and guidance towards the right pace and actions comes naturally rather than being a performed act.
So moving away from performing what we think is expected and towards what is actually alive and true in the moment creates space for authenticity and the possibility for two (or more) people to truly meet each other and enjoy the magic that unfolds.
To really find out what you and your partner need and want to live a fulfilled sex life we need to give space for exploration. This requires a certain level of trial and error and honest communication. If we can let go more of the idea that we need to be the perfect lover who magically knows exactly what is desired and can perform the perfect act, we might actually discover how to co-create ecstatic and fulfilling experiences.
The beauty of authenticity, honest exploration and allowance to "fuck up", not be perfect, holds so much power, while giving space to the subtle and often overlooked juiciness that lies in vulnerability.

This space of allowance will also extend to your partner. Women have very similar anxieties and worries. We all have created many layers of beliefs around how we need to show up and please others especially around sexuality, where it seems even more scary to show vulnerably than in other areas of life. So, working with our beliefs, reconnecting to our bodies and creating safe spaces for all of us to be present is key for both men and women to be able to fully enjoy their sexual potential.

Step into presence with yourself, your body and drop the performance act! Your partners will appreciate the love and care as well as the strength and power that will arise and all those reasons to be anxious may just evaporate.

Simopoulos & Trinidad., (2013). Male erectile dysfunction: integrating psychopharmacology and psychotherapy. General Hospital Psychiatry, 35 (1), 33-38.