Sexual Performance Anxiety with A New Partner

Learn About the Causes and What You Can Do to Manage This Unpleasant Experience

An image of a man sitting on the bed worried about having performance anxiety with his new partner

Having sex with a new partner can be an intimidating experience. The anxiety that gets triggered in such situations can lead to sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction. Performance anxiety can also lead to premature ejaculation and to difficulty in reaching orgasm.

Usually, these erectile problems are temporary. In some cases, though, the issue can persist in a chronic form.

In this article, we’ll explore the topic of sexual performance anxiety with a new partner, with special attention given to the causes and what you can to manage this unpleasant experience.

Why do we get anxious with a new partner?

Negative thinking patterns are thought to play an important role in causing and maintaining sexual performance anxiety. The pressure to satisfy a new partner can make most men feel nervous and anxious.

Thoughts like the ones listed below are common example of thoughts that may arise in new sexual situations and can trigger performance anxiety:

  • “Will I be able to get an erection?”
  • “What if I’m not able to last long enough for her to orgasm?”
  • “My penis is not big enough.”
  • “I’m not going to be able to satisfy her.”
  • “What if I can’t stay hard?”
  • “My body is embarrassing.”

Watching porn can also have a negative impact. In particular, it can set you up to have totally unrealistic ideas about how you should perform sexually, which can lead to performance anxiety. As a result, increasing numbers of men are reporting porn induced erectile dysfunction, which is thought to be caused largely by performance anxiety.

Stress alone can also lead to erectile dysfunction, due to the way that the signals between the brain and genitals get hijacked. Thoughts about work, family and financial issues can distance you from the moment and make it hard to get or maintain an erection

A single incident of a failed erection is often enough to plant a seed of self-doubt, which can make you fall into the performance anxiety cycle.

Why does performance anxiety lead to erectile dysfunction?

Stress and anxiety trigger the brain’s fight-or-flight response, which leads to a series of changes in blood flow, hormones and muscular activity.

The body, when under stress, is redirecting energy to the limbs in order to help you fight or flee from a threat. This means that less blood-flow is directed toward the genitals. At the same time, your blood is flooded with stress hormones which indirectly lower testosterone levels and make a sexual response less likely.

Summing up

Sexual performance anxiety is an incredibly common experience. A 2020 study estimated that up to 25% of men and 16% of women experience this sort of issue; and that this often leads to other forms of sexual dysfunction.

How can you overcome performance anxiety when having sex with a new partner? Read these articles to find out:

About Daniel Sher, MA

Clinical Psychologist and Sex Therapy Expert

Daniel Sher is a registered clinical psychologist and a sex therapy expert practicing in Cape Town, South Africa. Daniel gained his master’s degree in clinical psychology from the University of Cape Town (UCT) in 2014. A component of his training and practice involves working in the context of sexual and sex-related issues.

Daniel is a professional consultant for the Between Us Clinic, where he writes, edits, and reviews, professional materials and articles. He also treats patients at his clinic for male sexual dysfunctions including, premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction and sexual performance anxiety.