Past psychological trauma

I have always had problems getting it up when nervous, which is typically the first time with someone. In my last relationship, however, I started having issues after we had been together for about 4 years. When she was mad at me, she would lay like a dead fish during sex … and when I couldn’t stay hard, she would say I didn’t Iove her and blame my porn use. We broke up a little over a year ago, and my confidence in sex has been off ever since. I tried once since with someone I care about, and couldn’t get an erection, was trapped in my head. Any advice? I feel like I need to have sex with someone to prove to myself that I can, almost like meaningless yet therapeutic sex

I completely understand the feeling of needing to prove your physical health using sex. In the past, I’ve been very thankful to have had some kind of regular “friend with benefits” who allowed me to feel comfortable in not being at my best sexually-speaking. While having sex with familiar partners helped reduce my performance anxiety, I realized it was literally just keeping me in my comfort zone and not encouraging me to work on the actual problem which was experiencing performance anxiety with new first-time partners.

I think it’s completely okay to engage in sex with someone familiar if you feel that will help you get your “mojo” back but remember that it won’t necessarily address your larger problem of anxiety while performing with a new partner. Take it easy on yourself and exhaust the things you can do on your own to reduce the feelings surrounding performance anxiety leading up to sex.

Be honest with your partners, even new ones, about the issues you’re having if you feel comfortable sharing, although we all know how difficult it can be to initiate sex even after you’ve laid all of your baggage out on the table with honesty.

In regards to the anxiety you talk about having experienced with your ex, it sounds like you’re a bit fixated on the problematic times the two of you would have sex when she was angry with you- resulting in her putting forth minimal effort. While thinking about this won’t solve everything but, it may serve as a lesson that we often times shouldn’t engage in sex while we or our partners are angry. When we are angry we become much more self-serving, hostile, and emotionally guarded- I’m no expert but off the top of my head these all sound like mental states that would prevent us from making fulfilling connections with our partners during sex, by extension compromising our aroused state.

Your situation sounds completely normal- as you move forward perhaps you would benefit from paying attention to the emotions you or your partner are feeling in the moments leading up to sex? Ask yourself if you’re excited, or comfortable, or intimidated, or if you’re struggling to read yourself or your partner and then decided if engaging in sex at all would be enjoyable in that moment. Best of luck to you!