Do men worry about “doing it right?”
I asked both women and men students in my classes if they ever worry about whether they are “doing it right” when they have sex.
Let’s start with the men, all of whom are 1st and 2nd year students, and most of whom are in their late teens/early twenties.
I asked 69 of my men students who had sex with women (straight/bi) this question:
In sexual situations do you ever worry about whether you are “doing it” right?
Answer: YES: 71% NO: 29%
So most do. And then I did another qualitative survey of 26 men, where I asked them to talk about their answer to see what their concerns revolved around. (Fyi, 65% of this sample worried about “doing it right.”)
I felt that some of the categories blurred, but you can get a sense of how I categorized responses that could bleed into each other by seeing how I classified them below. I also placed three of the responses in more than one category, so adding everything up will come to more than 100%.
Here’s what they had to say:
Concern for her pleasure (n=5; 19%)
- Yes. Does she like what I’m doing?
- Yes, because I like to make it pleasurable for my partner so I’m self-conscious over whether or not she is attracted/pleasured.
- Not really by some “standard,” but I do think of what she’s feeling. I get the highest enjoyment from focusing on how she feels. (I know that often what she enjoys is me doing what I want.)
- I try to please my partner. I don’t really “worry” about it though
No harm (n=4; 15%)
- Yes. I don’t want to hurt the other person emotionally or physically
- Only when exploring boundaries. Testing involves a lot of concern for safety and comfort
- I worry about too much dominance versus too little
- Yes, because having sex requires high responsibility
Worry or focus on technique (n=4; 15%)
- No. Well, if I’m getting the motions down efficiently
- Yes, right techniques. Sometimes I can imagine myself being more focused on doing it right
- I feel pressure to do what feels the best and what society has perceived is “standard” action
- Yes. It’s a gut feeling that probably stems from never having comprehensive sex ed.
Inexperience creates concern with technique (n=3; 12%)
- I used to worry when I was younger, but not too often now.
- Yes, only the first couple of times with a new partner
- Yes, I’m not that experienced
A few guys seemed more concerned about their egos, hoping they were good enough for their partners and wanting to make a good impression:
Yes, if I feel intimidated by my partner (n=1; 4%)
- Yes, but only if I’m with someone who I think is better looking than me. I’m still pretty confident and not stressed but I also think about it
Make good impression/reputation (n=2; 8%)
- Sometimes I’m more concerned about making a good impression than thinking about pleasure
- Yes. If they are strangers I want to leave a good impression
Nope, I don’t worry about doing it right (n=9; 35%)
One-third of the guys didn’t worry about doing it right. Several were men of few words who simply said “No” or “Nope.”
Just because they couldn’t muster more words than “nope” doesn’t mean they don’t care about their partners, but one specifically added, “Don’t care, honestly.”
- Not now but I did when I was younger
- I rarely question myself during the act
- Don’t care, honestly
We’ll take a look at the women’s answers to this question next time.