I have a problem that has bothered me for several years–as long as I have had sex, actually, since I’m only 23. The problem is that I have a difficult time obtaining an erection without a minute or so of manual or oral stimulation. This has happened on many occasions and has embarrassed me quite a bit.

I assume from the response of the girl I’m about to have sex with that when she reaches for me, I should already be hard. But usually, at the time she reaches for my penis, it is only semi-erect, and she asks what is wrong. As far as I’m concerned, nothing is wrong, because that is the way I always start out. But the fact that women ask has made me paranoid that something is really wrong, even though I don’t go to bed with a girl unless she really turns me on.

Another problem: When I have become erect and I decide to prolong the encounter by stimulating my partner either manually or orally, my erection subsides once again to a semi-erect condition. I like to go directly into intercourse after this stimulation, but it is difficult to do with a semi-erect penis. So it’s either back to her manually/orally stimulating me or I attempt to enter her anyway, after which a full erection is usually obtained. If other guys are hard from the mere thought of sex, why aren’t I?

I’d like to be able to do whatever I want at whatever stage of intercourse we’re in, too. Am I overly dependent on manual stimulation because I masturbated as a teen?L.G., Dallas, Texas.

You seem to be the unfortunate victim of sexual stereotypes. For years, we’ve lived with the idea that men are incredibly horny, that they are turned on by sight alone, that they never need foreplay. The flip side of that stereotype is that women are tactile (they need to be touched, porn movies don’t turn them on, etc., etc.) and that they need hours of foreplay before they are ready for sex. The truth is, we are more alike than different. You are more aroused by touch than by sight. You need some reciprocal attention. There’s nothing wrong with you and nothing wrong with your partners. Ask them to try a little role reversal–they may find the experience truly liberating.

This question is from the JUNE 1986 issue of Playboy. To read more from the Advisor column, click here.

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