Here's my deal: I'm a 42-year-old guy in a serious, monogamous, long-term-as-long-term-can-be relationship with the greatest woman I've ever known. We've been together a little under two years. It's my first relationship. I was a virgin when we met... but not for any good reason. No religious compunctions or hard-set moral rules, I'm not a mutant or a dick. It just sort of worked out that way. Anyway. It took us a little while to have sex, and she was really wonderful and patient about it and about the occasional failures on my part. But here's the problem: I cannot keep an erection when she's on top. I want to—it totally turns me on, and it feels fantastic, but whenever we try it with her on top, I wind up limping out. She blames herself and thinks it's her fault—which is totally not the case! I want her so bad, all the time! The end result is that now we're both scared to try new things, because the spectre of failure looms over me like some sort of droopy sword of Damocles, and so it ends up being missionary almost all the time, which has gotten stale. We've tried other positions occasionally and it seems fine most of the time, but not all of the time, and like I say, the haunting fear is there, so... missionary. I have tried boner pills and they worked but she doesn't want me to use them. Any thoughts on how I can get this solved? Please help, if you can. I would be eternally grateful, for real.

Ex-Forty-Year-Old Virgin

P.S. It was hard for me to come in the beginning, but I had read about that problem your column—the problem of going from masturbation to actual intercourse—and I was prepared for it. So thanks for that!

My response after the jump...


Your say your girlfriend was wonderful and patient before you started having sex, EFYOV, and yet I found myself wondering, as I read your letter, what the hell happened to those good qualities after you started having sex. Treating every lost erection like a personal rejection, "blaming herself" and making you feel like shit, forbidding you to use pills that worked and that you could've phased out after overcoming your performance anxiety—none of that is evidence of patience or wonderfulness.

And none of that is helping.

She needs to chill the fuck out, EXYOV, you so do you. Losing an erection in a new, unfamiliar, or uncomfortable position is only as shattering and traumatic as you two decide to make it.

My advice: give reverse cowgirl another try—along with some other positions—and if you begin to lose your erection, pull out and jerk yourself for a minute or two, shift to missionary, fuckfuckfuckfuck, then shift back to reverse cowgirl and see if you can't last a little longer. And remember: not every position works for every person or every couple. You might lose your erection doing reverse cowgirl because something about the way your bodies are coming together—the angle of your erection, the angle of her vaginal canal—just doesn't provide you with the kind of friction or stimulation that you need to maintain your hardon. And if you discover that a certain position (reverse cowgirl specifically) or entire class of positions (girl-on-top generally) don't work for you guys, EFYOV, write 'em off and enjoy the ones that do work for you.

Good luck!