Being gay and lonely: Sexual anxiety

Guest writer, Peter Minkoff, talks candidly about his experiences with sexual anxiety and offers some useful advice.

Most people have this notion that all gay guys are happy, slightly bitchy guys that are there for their gal-pals to dish, go shopping and talk about their outrageous and spicy sexual escapades. Well, like any stereotype, there is some truth to it; there are guys that fit that exact description – flamboyant, witty, outgoing and ready to grab every opportunity for a good time. However, the other part of the population is not as prominent (especially on TV shows, and I blame them for fostering this stereotype), and that part is the secluded gay guy who is a ball of insecurities and anxiety that are just ready to burst. I am that guy, and I know I’m not alone because I know others who are going through the same thing.

Sexual anxiety is a huge issue, and it’s a mental block that prevents you from having a fulfilling sex life and serves to sabotage any chance of a healthy relationship. It took a lot of therapy, soul-searching and meditation for me to come to terms with who I am. Not all gay men are out and proud, it’s simply not easy for everyone to be comfortable with their sexual identity. While I have managed to come to terms with who I am, and am actively working on my issues with depression and believe I’m successfully overcoming it, there is yet another issue I am struggling with and that’s sexual anxiety.

I went through quite a rough and vice-filled patch. While I was still in the self-loathing phase, I would go to a gay bar, get drunk and hook up with any random guy that caught my eye. I thought this would help me, you know, get some experience under my belt. It did the opposite. First came the self-hatred that follows every ‘walk of shame’ after having spent the night with a complete stranger and having to get wasted so I could have sex. Then came the crippling fear that I might have caught an STI, because I didn’t know the person – how could I be sure that they’re healthy? I dreaded going to the hospital, I was consumed with the possibility that the test could be positive. A close girlfriend of mine basically dragged me, telling me that the suspense and the unknown would absolutely kill me. It’s like those horror movies – the worst part is the anticipation. So, I got it over with and it was negative.

The first thing I felt was relief. The second was a desperate need to not be near a guy ever again in my life. I would go to work, sometimes see my friends, but mostly I just wanted to be alone. Being alone is different from being lonely, but alienating people is a gateway to loneliness. I knew I had to get back in the game and take control of my love life, but the longer I stayed single, the more petrified of relationships and sexual encounters I got. It’s like when you take a book from the library and don’t return it on time – you just let it sit there for the fear of being scolded by the librarian, only a hundred times worse. I thought about powering through, you know, facing my fears and tackling them head on, so I installed Grindr and Tinder. Guys would start talking to me, but as soon as I would see the line ‘let’s meet’, I would disappear from the conversation. After a while, I became something close to a shut-in. Then something miraculous happened. My friend forced me to go out, just for drinks, no big thing, and she introduced me to David. He was funny, interesting and just easy to talk to. We ended up walking around together and he walked me home. At the end of the night, he kissed me and I felt exhilarated and scared. He didn’t ask to come up, which was a huge relief.

We started seeing more of each other, casually. We would see a movie, grab coffee and just hang out. Then, he finally asked me if I wanted to spend the night with him. I decided – it was now or never, and I really like this guy so maybe all my BS would quieten down. We started fooling around, but I was constantly in my head and not in the moment, and I just couldn’t get hard. I felt mortified. David asked what was wrong, and precisely because I liked him so much, I told him that I hadn’t had contact with anyone for a year and that I’m just crippled with anxiety, and that it has nothing to do with him. He was incredibly understanding and suggested we take things slow. We decided to visit an adult store and check out some sex toys – we figured if we took a playful approach and keep it light, it might help. It was a great decision! Once I stopped taking sex so seriously, I was finally able to play and truly enjoy it. Of course, it didn’t hurt that I was falling in love with this great supportive person who helped me every step of the way. I’m not gonna lie, there are times when I still have trouble with getting an erection and sometimes I can’t manage to achieve climax, but what you have to understand is that it’s totally ok, and it happens to everyone, and it will happen less and less once you feel more comfortable with the person next to you.

My advice – if you’re dealing with sexual anxiety, don’t look for drunken quick fixes, they can be detrimental. Get to know someone, take things slow, have an open and candid conversation with your partner and let him help you. I did, and I’m in a much better place now.

Follow Peter on Twitter (@MinkoffPeter)