Dear Richard: Help Me Get Wood

By: Dear Dick

Dear Dick,
I am wondering if you could comment on the following: I have no trouble getting an erection. But when in bed with another guy, often I can't stay hard, even if I use Viagra, or similar. I wonder if it's too much porn? I watch a lot of porn as I don't get together with another guy often. But it's become a real concern. On top of it, when I do stay hard I don't orgasm. What should I do?

Help Me Get Wood


Dear Help Me,
Let's roll up our sleeves and see if we can get you some help!

Looking at the porn part first: Porn is handy (ahem) stuff. But it can also be a crutch or an escape hatch. Lots of guys watch porn and expect that their sex lives will unfold like the scenes they see on the screen. Having worked as a consultant on adult film sets for decades, I can tell you that what you see is a highly edited product. You don't see the insecurities, the flop sweat, the cranky attitudes, and the wilting penises.

One problem with being acculturated to porn sex is that many guys think if they are not doing the same stuff the porn actors do — in the same order, and with the same noises — that they are not having good sex. They have let the porn dictate what sex is to them.

I came of age when porn was very difficult to get a hold of. It wasn't streaming on Dad's computer in the den. You couldn't buy it on the newsstand. We had to muddle our way into sex with our own imagination.

Nowadays, a lot of kids have seen "Two Girls, One Cup" before they hit high school. It adds a lot of pressure to what should be a wonderful exploratory experience. Also, with all this exposure to sex before one has actually had it, the expectation that you will hit the ground running in your first sexual experiences can be really penis-numbing.

A daily menu of porn can also convince you that intimacy is like a side dish: Order some up if you like, but it's not required. You didn't mention if you are having trouble with getting hard with guys you are dating, or much briefer encounters.

That leads us into the next area to explore that is often part of the erection problem: Intimacy. Many guys have trouble getting hard with another guy they are dating, but no problem with a more casual situation, like a hook-up, or a sex club. Some guys can only do the intimate act, the casual encounter makes them go dead down there. And some guys just have spectacular cardiovascular congestion no matter what the situation their cocks are in. (See porn, above.)

If you are having more trouble with casual encounters, try a slower getting-to-know-you-better type situation. Move much more slowly toward sex. Try investing more time in sensual interplay, kissing, holding and stroking, before you add penetration into the mix. Concentrate on your partner's pleasure. If you get hard in fast-food-type sex with no problem, but sex with guys you are getting close to is a problem, again, try going much more slowly. Let your partner know what's up, make the process part of the growing intimacy. If a guy you are dating isn't willing to take those steps with you, maybe they are not a great choice for a partner.

Some men are unaware of their reluctance toward intimacy. The body has a truth of its own that is difficult to ignore. Fears around sex and closeness are not seen as "masculine" but they may need more investigation. That you can get hard when you are alone would indicate that it's not a physical problem. Viagra may not help that and may only add another crutch. Try to be interested in how your body is communicating with you to help it get what it wants.

And finally, it can always be helpful to seek counseling around this stuff. It's not required, but if you are having gay sex issues, it might be best to seek a gay shrink. Your local gay center is a good place to begin to look for a source for recommendations.


Dear Richard is not a medical doctor, a licensed psychiatrist, a counselor, a reverend, or a rabbi. He has not been evaluated by the FDA, the CDC, or the BBC, and his words are not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. The information is for educational purposes only and it not intended to serve as medical advice. Dear Richard does, however, love hearing from you and answering your questions. Leave a comment or send him an e-mail.