Miss Information

My friend-with-benefits is underdelivering on one key benefit.

by Cait Robinson

Have a question for Miss Information? Write to missinfo@nerve.com.

Dear Miss Information,

I'm a female college student. I recently spent six months studying abroad, and completely to my surprise, I fell in love in the process. We met the first weekend I was there, and after some time it got serious, and it was an amazing relationship.

Obviously, we had to discuss the question of where the relationship was headed once I went back to the USA. The bottom line is and was that the United States is my base and his country is his base, and we just had to be realistic. Neither of us felt we would be happy in a long-distance relationship, period, but especially not one that was headed nowhere. It was a completely two-sided, amicable decision. So, a month out of it, we're both happy with our decision. We're still good friends. We still talk regularly, and we acknowledge the fact that we still have feelings and that they'll just have to pass with time.

I still love him, and it hurts a lot. I'm not interested in dating anytime soon, and neither is he. But I'm happy that I had that relationship with him, and happy with my decision, and having a good time otherwise.

But here's the catch: all my peers are apparently romantic idiots who romanticize everything that has to do with relationships and would gladly abandon reality in pursuit of being in love. I am sick of the notion that "If you love someone, you will make it work." That may be true in some cases, but it belittles my situation. I love/loved this man just as much as any other person loves their boyfriend, but when people say that, they're implying that somehow I didn't really "love" this guy enough. And I'm watching my peers jump into long-distance relationships that aren't grounded in reality. (I'm not saying they're all bad, but when they're based on fantasy, it's hard to watch.)

Why am I not allowed to have been in love and to have also made the decision that would be the best for both of us? Why does that mean I loved him less? Why do I feel like I am the only one around in my situation? I just want my feelings acknowledged and to feel like I can relate to someone.

 Hot Mess

Dear Hot Mess,

Ah, yes: "If you love someone you will make it work," my old nemesis. (Apologies to my other nemesis, P.E. Rope Climb.) First things first: you already have most of the answers. It sounds like you've put a lot of thought into your relationship with the guy overseas, so on that score, call it a day and go get some Fro-Yo. But you're really asking for validation, so read on.

Let's revisit this "If you love someone..." idea and flip the interpretation — because "...you will make it work" is so vague you can shoehorn almost any meaning into it. What if "making it work" means "not being miserably tied to someone 7,000 miles away?" What if "making it work" means "enjoying your youth on your home soil?" What if it means "loving each other enough to support each other in your development as individuals, even without claims to a relationship?" All of those sound good to me.

The real angst in this letter isn't about the guy at all, though. You've got everything about your relationship straight in your head—so where is your defensive tone coming from? I understand the frustration of being surrounded by people who seem not to accept your decisions, but it's a little extreme to call them all idiots. By your admission, you're only a month into this new, amicable separation. Is it possible you're snapping at your peers because they're reminding you of what you can't have? Or that they're easy scapegoats when you're having a hard time adjusting back to life in the U.S. of A? I'm not saying the hollow advice isn't annoying, but I am saying don't burn bridges over it. How to stop the advice: smile politely, say, "That's a good point," and change the conversation. Eventually these comments will die down.

Stop fretting about your peers, their platitudes, and their dubious relationship choices. Focus instead on settling in to college, and regard any communication with your ex as a pleasant surprise. You made the healthiest choices for you; now put those beliefs into action.

Dear Miss Information,

I recently started hanging out with a guy who I met at my local coffeeshop. We mesh very well together and I really enjoy spending time with him. He kissed me, so I made it clear that I didn't want a relationship (I'm moving several thousand miles away in May, and at this point in my life I'm not looking for any commitment), but that I'd be happy to have a "beneficial" friendship if he was comfortable with it. I felt that I went about this in the nicest and most honest way possible. That's the background to this situation.

When we made it into the bedroom I was astonished. He went down on me and I came like seven (!) times. He was generous and conscious of my reactions. So, where's the problem? Well, I haven't been able to return the favor, because he hasn't gotten hard. He explained that it's just anxiety, and that he can get himself off pretty easily. I assured him that it was fine (why would I complain? I just got off like a billion times) and went on my merry way.

I wouldn't be writing if this was a one-time thing. I've been making out with this guy for a few weeks, but I have yet to see his erect cock. It's disheartening because I really, reaaaallly want to suck/fuck him. I know it's not his fault, and I want to be as supportive as possible. But how am I supposed to be his slam-piece if he can't slam me? I feel awful, because this has been all take and no give. What's the problem? How can I make him comfortable around me?

— Soft-Hearted

Dear Soft-Hearted, 

You deserve some kind of award, because you're the first person I've ever heard use the phrase "slam-piece," and I do this for a living. Is that just a thing that I've missed? Regardless, thanks for ensuring that I'll never again attend a poetry slam without giggling.

Any number of things could be contributing to your guy's nerves. He's clearly cultivated other talents, for which he should get a thunderous round of applause — but which also suggests this is something that's been going on long enough that he's learned to cope with it. You should certainly try to make him more comfortable, but know that the issue might have little to nothing to do with you. As a slam-piece (heh), you don't have quite the same pull that a long-term partner might. By this I mean, he may be antsy about casual sex on some level, or he may have something else going on that he doesn't want to bring up in a casual environment. Or maybe the color of your walls reminds him of the room where his grandmother always made him say the Rosary. Who knows! It's great that you're trying, and you certainly should. It's just that, within the confines of a casual relationship, he may not be willing to open up enough for you to figure out what's going on, and that's fine. 

Addressing the issue head-on any more may just make him feel increased performance anxiety. So take your emphasis away from "boner" and broaden it to "enjoyment." Do nice things for him that don't involve his dick — he's got a whole body, after all. He can still experience pleasure even if his penis doesn't reflect it. Nibble on his neck, pull his hair — whatever gets a reaction. Let him know you're open to requests, and don't register disappointment or confusion over his flacidity. Showing him that you derive joy from giving him joy — whether an erection happens or not — is the real key here.

He's figured out how to blow your mind without slamming you. You may have a different set of tools to work with, but by staying tuned in and getting creative, you can certainly give him a good time too.

Want to form some beneficial friendships, or something else entirely? Check out Nerve Dating.

Commentarium (35 Comments)

Mar 04 12 - 2:04am
Pountsi threefold

Sounds like he's taken the time to master eating pussy because he knows he can't get it up. Enjoy it while you can, because most men don't have a clue how to properly navigate a hot wet cunt.

Mar 04 12 - 5:22am

"Do nice things for him that don't involve his dick" - yes indeed, but...

My further advice is to do nice things that DO involve his dick, if he can get into that, and don't worry about whether there's an erection or not. Being played with or sucked is still mighty fine, even if it doesn't result in penetration-grade hardness.

And - paradoxically - if you both take the erection-dependency out of dick play, you're more likely to actually find you produce a hard-on at some point. Even if not, him cumming with a semi is also absolutely in scope. But even without wood and geysers, some pleasant head still feels a whole lot more awesome than whatever is the second-nicest feeling on Earth.

The key is to make it all fluid (so to speak) and remove the performance pressure around hardness. It's not a million miles from the advice these fora often provide to young women who feel anxious about performance when first becoming sexually active. The gist is the same. With their partner's respect and a relaxed approach to seeing what happens (instead of grim, workmanlike, goal-orientation), lots of good things will happen.

I'd also like to vote major kudos to you, for being so supportive and not getting carried away about what it means etc. It's his shit, and is just one or more of a whole bunch of things going on in his body and/or head. It happens to a hell of a lot of blokes at some point or other. He is still figuring out how to deal with it, most likely, and your approach is really mature and helpful. If anyone's going to make it all cool, whatever the outcome, it's you.

Good luck and enjoy!

Mar 04 12 - 2:32pm

Splendid, you've done a well, splendid job replying. You could be giving advice for a living.
Or maybe you are...?

Mar 04 12 - 9:30am

Hmm. . . I've had performance anxiety issues before that have affected my erections, but they always happened when it came time for penetration. While I know my experience is just that, my own, your description of him sounds like more than just anxiety about sex. He's not getting hard from making out or going down on you. He may have a medical issue affecting his erections. Either he doesn't want to talk about it with you, or he doesn't want to explore the possibility.

Mar 05 12 - 1:11pm

yea the dude says he knows how to get off. have him masturbate in front of you. and while he is getting off. slowly crawl over and give him some slow ice cream tongue down in the private area.

Mar 04 12 - 10:14am
etudiante n medicine

I agree with much of the sage advice above, particularly the idea that being relaxed is often the key. Just also wanted to mention that there are a few drugs, like certain antidepressants, that can make it difficult for men to get erections. This isn't always well-explained with patients, I find, particularly if men are reticent to talk about it. In this case, I'm not sure I'd advise the letter-writer to broach the issue of a medical problem with her partner, so I suppose this comment is really for her partner. I just had a friend call me yesterday asking if it was possible that he couldn't get hard because of a med he was on. Then I read this and felt compelled to make a public service announcement to the sexy boys of the world--if you're on an antidepressant, don't be embarrassed to bring up the sexual side effects with your doctor. We want you to be happy, & to be getting some damn good head.

Mar 04 12 - 11:32am
Just Sayin'

Have you actually seen this flaccid penis or are you only feeling the outside of pants? Could it be that your partner might just have a prosthetic in the pants?

You wouldn't be the first to be duped this way and it would explain the amazing oral talent...

Mar 04 12 - 10:25pm

You mean it's a girl! Wow that's hot!

Mar 09 12 - 4:10pm

directed by m night shymalan

Mar 09 12 - 5:58pm

It definitely makes since, he could be a F to M or something along those lines, it makes sense if he's so great at oral. hmm maybe I should invite him over but i'm too much of a lez I do however enjoy a tomboi, or cute boyish looking girls, goodness I need to get laid....

Mar 04 12 - 11:40am

A few weeks later and I still haven't gotten him off. It's getting better, though. We're very good friends in addition to the benefits. It's a fun situation and I'm glad I'm in it.

Mar 05 12 - 4:15am

You sound like just the person to help him overcome his anxiety, so persevere. I also echo splendid's advice above that a good sucking/licking session even on a flaccid member can be intensely pleasurable. Best of luck to both of you.

Mar 04 12 - 12:04pm

LW1: Yes, your suspicions are correct - your peers are most likely being romantic idiots who watch too many Molly Ringwald movies. They're not going to understand the value of quitting while one is ahead. If you need to talk about it, find someone older who's been around that block a few times and who can understand your viewpoint.

LW2: Chances are about 120% that this ISN'T ABOUT YOU. It's not you, it's not you, you could be Rachel Dratch or Megan Fox and he'd probably still not get it up because it's not about you. It's about this guy's issue, which he's obviously been dealing with for quite a while now. Not to be crude, but in this day and age NO guy gets that good at "passing his oral exams" unless he's had to put them to the test A LOT. It could be physical (does he smoke too much weed?), psychological, or both.

In all likelihood, he's probably correct in assuming it's psychological. That's probably why he's trying to work through it through a casual relationship with a nice girl from the coffee shop who will soon be moving to the other side of the Earth. You can't really get more low-expectations than that. But that's kind of beside the point anyway, because unless the nice girl from the coffee shop can recommend a good sex-positive therapist, it's a problem that you will most likely not be the one to solve.

So just relax and accept things as they are. Traditional boning doesn't have to be the end-all requirement of every sexual relationship. Instead of wondering how you can feign "being cool with it" until he actually gets it up (if ever), why don't you just actually accept that this one thing might not happen with this guy, but that he obviously has other skills worth exploring.

So, I dunno, instead of angsting over why there isn't steak on this particular menu, why don't you just take a chance and try some of the more exotic offerings. You will probably learn some good things that you can apply to future relationships, thus making the world a better place. If you must, visit a toy shop and find a suitable pinch hitter.

Mar 05 12 - 1:07pm

why don't you try eating his ass out. exotic offering if there ever was one. and great advice alex t

Mar 04 12 - 12:13pm
don't sweat it

I had a similar thing happen, except my FWB could get an erection, but then would lose it. After time, he stopped losing it. I think it was just nerves, and that he needed time to get used to me as a new partner.

Mar 04 12 - 4:36pm

I've had this problem too..... strangely with one girl in particular that I really wanted to impress in bed.... it was worse because I was so into her...... a different girl that I had sex with that I wasn't so into, there was no problem....... If a problem occurs the first time, (often one has been drinking the first time which doesn't help) then it makes it more likely the next time cause you're thinking about it...... my advice.....take the focus off his dick....lie there and masturbate and let him look on.... he has to stop thinking about it...... extreme solution put some porn on and let him jerk off to it.... it will make him forget about his dick and make him more comfortable with you being there....

Mar 11 12 - 10:38pm

Typing... Like this... All the time... Makes your posts... Difficult... To Read...

Mar 04 12 - 12:49pm

I once saw a TV commercial about a drug that helps men with their erections. Has anyone else heard about this? I know it is rare to see or hear anything about this, but maybe this may apply here no matter what his age?

Mar 04 12 - 1:44pm

LW1: Find friends that support you. Yes, it is okay to acknowledge that your friends are idiots.

Mar 04 12 - 2:14pm

"P.E. rope climb" HAHAHAH

Mar 12 12 - 12:16am

he too was once my nemesis

Mar 04 12 - 2:29pm

Nobody's mentioned the possibility that the dude in the second letter might have some really weird fetish that he doesn't want to tell you about because your relationship is so casual. The fact that you're leaving should instead be freeing you up to try all sorts of fucked-up shit with him.
Also, "nibble on his neck" should've been "stick a finger up his butt." At the very least, try to get him to masturbate in front of you.

Mar 04 12 - 2:50pm

LW1: I think it's totally fine to call your friends "idiots". Friends can sometimes be monumental assholes, and if her friends were more understanding, they wouldn't a) harangue her about it, or b) suggest that her decision was inferior to theirs. People can be very self-righteous about love/sex and it's hard not to become defensive about it when your decision deviates from an idealistic one. Good luck!

Mar 04 12 - 5:18pm

I concur. I was in a similar sitch at a similar age, and I wish I'd had the sense to make such a grown-up, loving decision instead of letting both of us "waste" our twenties (I feel bad using that word, we loved eachother and had great times when we were together, but 1 week/year for 7 years is beyond tough). My friends were divided between a) the realists who said it probably wouldn't work and b) the hopeless romcom-addict romantics who said "Love finds a way". Bollocks. If I hadn't wanted to prove the first group wrong so badly, etc; but our choices make us who we are - I salute LW1 for hers.

Mar 04 12 - 7:30pm
Long Distance Lovin'

I agree some people really shouldn't dive into a long distance relationship. Especially when it involves another country. Yet, don't mark them all as bad. My boyfriend and I are 5,000 miles apart in different countries. The only reason it works is we're willing to leave our homes in order to make the move to end the distance (which should happen in 1.5 - 2 years). Not everyone can or is willing, but those that are able can make things work. It can be a bitch, for sure, but in the end it is worth it.

Mar 04 12 - 3:59pm

the real bitch of anxious-dick is that its such a vicious cycle. also, that anti-anxiety meds, while helping with the anxiety can actually further dampen the erection. i went through a real rough period of anxiety a couple summers ago, and found myself in a somewhat similar situation. clonazepam and cialis were a pretty effective combo.

Mar 04 12 - 6:28pm

I also had some sexual side effects from anxiety/depression meds. What made it so difficult for me was that I didn't want to admit that I was struggling with mental health problems to the people I was sleeping with. If meds are the reason this guy can't get it up, having her bring it up in a supportive, non-judgemental way might help him ease out of that anxiety spiral.

Mar 04 12 - 11:25pm

LW2, I enjoyed reading this because it sounds a lot like myself - Hey, I'm not the only one! I know and I've been told, genuinely, that I'm very talented at going down on a lady. How did I cultivate this talent? One, I really enjoy it and two, I have anxiety in the bedroom and I learned that doing a favor for the lady takes the pressure off of me, for the time being. It can take me a few weeks of being with a new partner to get fully erect and even then I sometimes will lose it. But, after a while the problem goes away. The advice already given is pretty right on so I'll just reiterate by saying don't worry about it too much. Also, regardless of his penis situation, be intimate in the nude together - kissing, touching, cuddling, etc., and don't focus on getting him up. That seems to really help me relax and feel comfortable around someone new and "magically" the boner pops up. Good luck.

Mar 05 12 - 2:14am
hearts and darts

So, Soft-Hearted, I had a friend (no, really) who was in the exact same situation you were in. I feel ya, girl. That must suckkk. I've had boyfriends with occasional performance problems but nothing like what my friend was telling me about her latest crush... just never got hard. ever. She was also enjoying her end of things but, in the end-end, nothing is ever going to do but a nice. hard. cock. Amiright?

I totally agree with what others have said on here that it's probably pills. My friend eventually found out her FWB was being treated for depression, which just so totally killed his mood (and by mood, i mean boner). And I can see how in a casual relationship, that could be difficult to disclose. (i was going to say 'hard' instead of 'difficult' but i refrained.)

I think it's damn sweet of you to stick around a give it a whirl. Just don't let it get to your self-esteem if it doesn't work out because he needs to talk to a doctor.

Mar 05 12 - 4:21am

I am not always so down on "big pharma" as seems fashionable nowadays, but really, WTF do they think they're doing marketing anxiety meds that kill erections? Guys, would any of you get *less* anxious if you suddenly couldn't get it up?

Mar 09 12 - 10:55am
Flacido Domingo

A few years ago I was fooling around with my wife, I was really distracted and admittedly my mind was on other things; my dick went limp. We've been together a long time and it has happened before, but we always try again in a few hours and it was always ok. Not this time; every time we tried over the next five weeks I would go soft within a minute or two. I stopped trying. My wife is a very sexual person, and has an incredible drive; she and I have had an amazing life together and sex between us is a huge part of our relationship.
With pressure mounting there was no fucking way my penis would work- then depression sets in; thoughts of a lifetime of impotence with my wife.

I'd heard about guys realizing they were gay later in life, even after being married, was this me??? Maybe I could tolerate her having a boyfriend? I was already picturing myself in peeping out of a closet watching her have sex with strangers.. Then I started thinking fuck this!!, I'm too young to act like a cuckold, this is getting solved by the end of the week.

I went to the doctor, she drew blood to check for anything out of whack, before I left she gave me a scrip for 8 cialis pills, told me to cut one in half and take it about an hour before any fooling around.

Boom!! It worked! Rock hard erection and an awesome sex session, angry sex, comfort sex and utter bliss. All in the room were relieved beyond belief.

I followed up with the doctor and told her that the half pill worked, she said that in all likelihood the problems were anxiety related because a half pill of the lowest dose would really have no effect if I had a serious problem. She told me to keep the pills and use them if I ever felt I needed it. It's been two years and I still have 7 pills in my bathroom, just knowing they are there takes all the worry away and I've never had a problem again.

You are an awesome girl for working with him and I hope his dick gets fixed. With his oral skills and obvious generosity he is going to make some happy clams out there once he gets all straightened out.

Mar 11 12 - 2:36pm

That is such an awesome story! Glad it worked out for you!

Mar 11 12 - 9:02pm

Thank you for sharing your story! It's very encouraging.
It's getting better. We have (sort of) fucked! I have yet to get him off, but we're getting closer. Things are looking good. We are completely honest about our sexual activity and turn-ons (as all slam-pieces should be) and have agreed that a threesome would be super hot. Once we have some successful fucking, we'll search for a fine lady friend.

Mar 30 12 - 4:24am

I laughed so ridiculously hard at the suggestion he needed to get his dick fixed

Apr 01 12 - 1:23pm

Who knows what the problem could be? It's probably some ill-placed anxiety, coupled with being newly intimate with you. But I'm fairly certain it has nothing to do with you. Some guys just take a little more time to warm up to the idea. I know I've used the whole going down on her to take some pressure off myself more often than I should, rather than getting to the root (pun intended) of the problem. But once Mr. Friendly comes around, he will be your friend forever (barring some medical issue, usually.