A Dick and His Man: Insights on Men's Shame Around Sexuality

“Well, I want have a lot of sex. Wild sex. Wide variety of experiences. Like, um, threesomes and stuff. Lots of women. Um, hot women. Yeah, er, but after that I want to settle down with a good girl, like one girl that I love.”

I’ve heard some version of the above statement hundreds of times from single men from a wide range of ages. Some would say that the paradigm of “sow wild oats in your youth, then settle down with a good girl” is a practical way for the modern man to experience both sexual pleasure and loving connection in his lifetime. However such a paradigm implies a disconnection between sex and love; “The good girl (read: sexually inhibited) you want to marry, is different than the girl you want to sleep with.”

Besides the obvious slut-shaming in the implication, the paradigm demonstrates an element that causes pain to men themselves in various areas of their life. I’ve seen this element as the root cause of sexual dysfunctions, lukewarm relationships, anxiety, and all sorts of self-sabotage. Almost all men are afflicted with it at some point in their lives and most don’t even realize they have had it:

Shame of sexuality.

As long as a man carries shame around his sex, he is unable to be his true self. A shameful man is victimized by the desires of his loins rather than empowered by them. Conversely, a man who is free of shame can have the sex, relationships, and creative life that he wants. Here are a few insights around men’s sexual shame:

The desire for sexual prowess is really a desire to be felt

A good place to start with a man’s sexual shame is with his sexual organ. Nothing symbolizes male virility like the phallus. Man to man comparison can elicit shame in men whose organ isn’t above average. But it’s not really the size for the sake of size that men want. A BDSM master I studied with put it this way, “No man really cares about having a ten inch dick. It’s the thought that ‘if I had a big dick, then she’d really feel me.’”

If you ask the same man if he would still care about his dick size if he knew he could send women into sexual ecstasy with ease, he’d probably say no. Dick size shame goes along with “not lasting long enough,” “not being experienced enough,” and “not getting her off” as ways a man can express his insecurity around being felt. Beneath the typical male bravado around sexual prowess is a deeper desire to have an effect on the world.

That men tend to be more drawn to pornography than women highlights this fact. Watching a video of someone experiencing pleasure tricks the brain into thinking “she’s coming because of me.” This simulates the experience of connection, a dire human need.

Porn creates a cycle of shame

In terms of connection, porngraphy is like empty calories. It takes away the hunger to feel and be felt (horniness) without actually feeding the nutrient of connection. Even worse, that one watches porn and masturbates in isolation only increase the shame through disconnection.

I’ve coached men from age 19 to 63 and I was shocked to find that the only men who reported incidences of erectile dysfunction were the Millennials. One theory for this is that such men grew up with free Internet porn at their fingertips. These men grew up associating arousal with shame, so it become difficult to feel arousal in the presence of a real person.

This separation of sex and emotional connection is highlighted in the statement at the beginning of this article. I’ve seen many guys bizarrely lose their sex drive once they meet the love of their life. Since they’ve treated their sexual desire as something dirty to be hidden, it become difficult to feel it in the presence of a person they really love and respect.

Connection unblocks sexuality

Feeling is interpreted by the reptilian brain as sensation. Feeling is interpreted by the mammalian brain (limbic system) is emotion. To block feeling in one realm block feeling in all realms. As Brene Brown says in her 2010 TED Talk, “you can’t selectively numb.” In order to fully feel and be felt, all channels must be open.

I once had a man hire me to help him get laid once his divorce was finalized. He and his wife were separated and he said there was zero sexual attraction. I was willing to help with what he wanted, and I knew that he wouldn’t attract any woman till he got over his resentment with his wife. We worked on unblocking his hatred towards her and within three weeks they had sex for the first time in three years and eventually called off the divorce. It wasn’t that there wasn’t sexual attraction, it was that they were so disconnected that they couldn’t feel what was there.

Connection is the experience of mutual empathy. Shame occurs when we try to hide a part of ourself from others feeling. The number one way for a man to get over sexual insecurities is to talk about it with someone who can empathize. Simply sharing your internal world with the outside world allows the knots in the psyche to unwind.

 

Everything blocking men from the love and sex they want come down to sexual shame. Sex is what creates life, yet it tends to get hidden and shamed. Just like a plant that withers when hidden from the sun, any aspect of life perverts and deforms when it’s not expressed. Shamed desire becomes a burden. To approve of your desire is be your fully expressed in the world.