18th of May 2015

Helping Joe, Episode 16


In this episode of Helping Joe, Joe goes on two great dates with the girl he met from Tinder (see Episode 14), and he follows Tucker’s advice by going back to her place because his has no furniture. However, things quickly go downhill when Joe has problems in the bedroom. Tucker and Nils talk him through what happened, why he has shame around sex, and what to do going forward to fix these issues. They also share sad but funny stories of similar experiences they have had.


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Joe’s Thoughts and Takeaways From This Episode:

Hey this is a running commentary of random thoughts, notes, and takeaways I had during or after this episode. – Joe

@Beginning – Two more dates with girl from Tinder, Episode 14

I went on two more dates with the girl from Tinder.

The first date this week was a salsa dancing class at this meetup group. There were like 60 people there, a lot of women. This is definitely a great place to meet women if you like to dance. There were a lot of couples there but also a lot of women who were with their friends or who just wanted to dance salsa.

We only stayed there an hour because I had to go hang out with my parents later that night. They were in town this week and this was their last night in Austin.

The class was like 45 minutes, we rotated partners which is stupid. I hate when dance classes do this. I just want to dance with the person I came here with and I should have just taken us out of the circle so I could just dance with her and not other people who I didn’t know or care about.

After the class we got a drink, sat down on a couch, and people watched, admiring the better dancers and making fun of the bad ones (neither one of us were that good either), and talked about stuff in general. We talked about our families, I found out a little more about her, we talked about dream vacations (mine = Brazil; hers = Italy).

The second date this week was the next night, Friday, to a comedy show. It was so much fun, I love standup comedy and I guess she does too! We walked down 6th street then went to a cool cafe and got some s’mores.

Something I didn’t mention on the podcast was that we talked about a bunch of different things, movies in particular while there. There was also this weird guy walking around this crowded late-night cafe, it was strange and he was an odd looking character so I was just making fun of him and she was laughing because he was really goofy. At least his clothes were normal though. It was like 1am when we decided to get out of there.

@3:00 – Going back to her place because mine sucks.

This was advice that Tucker gave me in Episode 11

I asked her if she wanted to keep hanging out, she said yes. Then I said how about we go back to her place because mine sucks and then I just made fun it: I haven’t bought furniture yet, I live like a bum, (she laughs) no seriously my apartment is nice but my room looks like I live in a homeless shelter. She was laughing and kept saying it wasn’t a big deal, it was okay, etc. but I said no, we can’t go back there. So we went to her place. She drove. It was like 25 minutes away and I could tell she was nervous too because she kept telling me all these things about her dog, trying to prep me I guess.

@4:00 – “Escalating”

“Don’t say this word!” – Tucker

I get why he doesn’t want me to say this. It’s a weird word used by pickup artists and you kinda sound like a creep when you say it. I’ll try not to say it in this context ever again.

@4:30 – The movie I put on was Natural Born Killers

I don’t know what I was thinking. I saw it in her Netflix queue. I heard it was good. So I put it on. 15 minutes in I was like wtf and had to change it to some other less insane drama/horror movie. Holy shit was that a bad decision. Also, I don’t know why I was putting so much thought into picking a good movie. Who gives a damn? It’s not like we’re going to be watching it anyways.

@5:30 – I didn’t get hard and didn’t have sex with her.

We were getting intimate and moving towards sex (clothes were coming off, kissing was getting heavier, we were getting more into it) and my dick wasn’t getting hard. It was half-mast not totally flaccid but still wtf.

This is embarrassing and difficult to say. When your dick doesn’t work, it’s like you don’t work, like I’m incompetent or defective. I haven’t told anybody about this. I’m just really down because finally found someone I like and who likes me, we connected, and we go to have sex and nothing happens. While sex is NOT the only thing I’m interested in obviously, it’s pretty fucking important.

I thought I would just wait until the morning and try again then, but nope still not hard, still had problems. Tucker and Nils dive into this for the rest of the episode:

@8:00 – “This is normal and happens to every guy”

I don’t know. This is hard for me to believe. I thought you weren’t supposed to get ED in your 20s.

Nils explains how there’s more at stake, deep anxiety that builds up in these situations, especially when you’re younger.

Tucker tells a story about how a lot of times he started half-mast and had to put it in to get going: “It’s so common that I can’t think of one time because it’s happened so many times.”

This kind of blew my mind and actually made me feel a little better, like this is normal. For me I’ve almost always been hard before putting it in. I just thought that’s the way it works, you get hard then you’re ready to go. I didn’t think you could go in half-mast and still make it happen.

“It’s hard to get really hard without some kind of physical (oral or manual) stimulation.” – Nils

“It’s super common for guys to need more than just kissing and the thought of sex to get hard.” – Tucker

This is not ED because it’s not a physical problem. It’s a mental one.

@12:00 – My masturbation habits

Tucker asks me if I have been able to get hard since then like when I masturbate. I tell Tucker that I haven’t masturbated in two weeks. He responds, “How do you go a week without masturbating?!”

I talk about why I haven’t done it. I thought I had problems with watching too much porn and masturbating too much because of stuff I read online (see below).

@14:00 – Sexual shame issues

When I watch porn, I have a lot of shame and feel awful like I’m a fucking bum and should be doing something better or more productive with myself than sitting on a computer screen watching two other people have sex.

Tucker chimes in: “This is the problem!”

“[Masturbation] is possibly the most natural thing a male can do, besides put your penis inside of a woman, is jerk it off until it makes the white goo come out.” – Tucker

@16:00 – Stuff I’ve read on the internet about this

When I thought porn was the problem, I searched for and found stuff online that confirmed that it was the problem. Websites like Your Brain On Porn and Reddit’s NoFap.

YBOP explained it in a way that I thought was a very scientific and made sense. I’m not a doctor, researcher, or scientist, so I’m not a good judge of what’s legit and what’s not, but I thought that this was legit. It detailed stories of a lot of guys having similar problems and getting better (happier, more testosterone, more sex with girls) once they stopped watching porn and stopped masturbating a lot.

Also that subreddit is huge like over 150,000K I thought there was something to it. Maybe masturbating and watching porn fucked you up or trained/wired your brain to prefer this over real sex.

“Don’t look to Reddit for social and cultural trends… they are looking for excuses to why their life sucks.” – Nils

Tucker went off about this and said I should believe other crazy nonsense too (9/11 truther, scientology, creationism, etc.). My reason for believing this stuff wasn’t that there were also 150,000K other people who believed it. It was just one indicator I saw of all these people who shared the same problem, maybe there was something to this. The science angle that YBOP takes is what made this believable and why I thought it was legit, but I didn’t talk that much about it because I could see Tucker was getting angry and that I was probably wrong so I just dropped it. I should have brought this up.

@19:00 – My masturbation peak was 2-3 times a day. Tucker laughs.

Tucker laughs at this because his masturbated twice a day well into this 30s and this was during a time when he had regular sex with women too.

This made me feel a lot better, even if Tucker is somewhat of an outlier in testosterone or sex drive.

“[Masturbating] 2-3 times a day is like table stakes for a guy in their 20s.” hahaha

“There is no one legitimate who is saying that jacking off twice a day is a problem.”

So this is totally normal and isn’t my problem, which is cool.

@23:00 – The % of times this has happened to me

Over the last 2 years, probably 50%…. 50% of the times I want to have sex with a woman I was either flaccid or half-mast or I couldn’t get hard.

Tucker’s conclusion: “You have real issues with sexual shame.”

Yea I probably do. I grew up Catholic, went private catholic school, my mom made me got to church every sunday and all that. We rarely talked about sex in class or at home in a positive way. Actually, we didn’t talk about it much in a negative way either. We just didn’t talk about it at all.

These shame is issues probably run so deep that I don’t even realize them or how they affect me. Well, I guess this is one of the ways it affects me.

Nils goes into a story about a married friend of his who grew up Catholic and has so much shame around sex that he won’t let his wife go down on him and he can only have sex in the morning because it’s the only time he get hard. It almost ruined their marriage. My first reaction was surprise: how the hell did this guy get married without being able to have sex at night? Maybe his problem is more recent as he’s gotten older, I don’t know. I didn’t ask Nils about this.

I’m not this bad (I love blowjobs!) but I am on the spectrum of shame somewhere.

@25:30 – Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

It’s a condition, not a disease. It’s like a sprained ankle or is a sign of deeper problems like heart disease. They don’t think that I have ED. “This isn’t a Cialis commercial.”

Tucker explains how there is a difference between lacking confidence / having anxiety vs having shame issues. I wasn’t that nervous or anxious. I wanted to have sex with her. So it probably was a shame issue.

“The idea that [NoFapping] sounds good to you almost certainly means you have a lot of shame issues regarding sex.” – Tucker

Yea that makes sense. I generally think of watching porn and masturbation as “bad” or a waste of time or not good for you, which according to Tucker & Nils is bullshit. It’s totally natural to jack off and to want to jack off. And if we talked to a primate researcher about this, they would probably talk about how chimps or baboons and other animals jack off all the time too so it’s normal for humans to do this.

@27:30 – This problem has nothing to do with logic or rationality. It’s emotional.

“How do you pinpoint the problem and get rid of it if you can’t see it?” – Me

“Welcome to psychology. That’s really hard. That’s why I go to therapy.” – Tucker

I don’t think about emotions a lot or why I feel certain things. When I have a problem and think about solving it, I try to think about it logically and figure out what I need to do to solve it. But that’s not how this stuff works, unfortunately not that easy.

Tucker gives a great analogy that you can hear music and it makes you feel a certain way but you can’t see music.

“I wish it was all simple and easy and there was just a checklist, but it’s not. It doesn’t work that directly.”

At this point, I felt awful because I have this problem, it’s a big problem, and I don’t even know what’s wrong or how to solve it. And the way I’m thinking about it is totally wrong.

@29:30 – There are a lot of potential things to feel shame about here

The sex itself, sexuality in general, the girl you are with, the way you deal with girls, and a lot more.

How the fuck do I figure out what my specific issue is? Do I have to go to therapy to figure it out? God damn it…

These are all things I don’t know about or that I haven’t talked about with anybody like ever.

@32:30 – It’s probably not a physical.

I was still worried about it being a physical problem with hormones or whatever, but that doesn’t make sense because I’m in shape and generally feel good. I should get tested or whatever to see if there’s anything odd or off that might be causing this issue.

@33:30 – When this happened in the past

This has happened in the past, usually the first few times I slept with a new woman. And it was really embarrassing when it first happened about a year ago but after I realized they still wanted to see me and sleep with me after I “failed” when it came to getting hard and having sex, I got more comfortable and eventually got over it and we had good sex.

“This is the physical manifestation of your attitude toward dating women. This is exactly what you do when you talk to girls worrying that you will say the wrong thing or there’s a right or wrong answer. It’s the sexual manifestation of that mindset… When you realize she’s not going to leave you and she likes you for who you are and not just the strawberry shortcake carrot stick in your pants, then you can get comfortable and things progress.” – Nils

At first I was like “no way this is true” (thinking this in my head), that’s ridiculous, but the more I thought about it, I think Nils might be right with this. I don’t know how he puts the pieces together like that but he’s very intelligent with this stuff.

So on a deep unconscious level I’m probably worried about 1) performing and 2) that she likes me or the sex is good. These are the same issues I have when going out on dates (Episode 5 @14:00) and sometimes at improv (Episode 13 @19:00).

(Paraphrasing Tucker and Nils) These worries short-circuit my sexual system. There could be a lot of different explanations like no confidence in sexual ability, sabotaging myself, testing her to see if she’s really into me. Again things I don’t even think about.

It’s hard to believe that these issues play out when I’m having sex because I don’t really think about them in the moment. I’m just excited about getting it on and really into her. But that’s the thing: I don’t think about them and probably nobody thinks about these things consciously. They occur below the surface.

The pattern in the past has been: Meet a girl I like & I’m into her -> we have sex and I have performance issues at first -> she keeps going out with me (reassures that she’s into me) and later we have good sex and I don’t have problems

“There’s some psychological need [or block] that you have that you receive from having a performance issues.” – Tucker

“Something is working inside of you out of fear, anxiety, or a defense mechanism that short circuits your ability to get rock hard instantaneously and if she still goes out with you after and you keep dating, [your dick] works again because you have that comfort level knowing she’s not going to leave you.”

@36:30 – Performance anxiety, how they know I have it, and what causes it

They break down the way I talk about having sex here and come to the conclusion that I’m thinking about it the wrong way and that might be why I’m having these performance issues.

“There’s no better evidence for anxiety than proceduralism.” – Tucker

Proceduralism (see Choke book notes) is focusing consciously on getting all the steps or moves right instead of just letting it flow. It’s thinking about each individual step and getting it right instead of just dancing. It’s like looking at conversation as a checklist instead of a dance. This self-consciousness is the reason why most people choke or have performance anxiety. They don’t let it flow and just let go unconsciously. It’s being too much in your head (big head) than being in the moment. There’s all this interesting brain science as to why that’s the case. Again, go read Choke.
This is an issue I have had in the past on this show (Episode 9 @ 50:00) .

@38:30 – Nils and Tucker talk about times in their pasts when this has been a problem for them

Nils had a problem of “going limp” at the end of college when either he drank too much, a woman was attractive but he didn’t want to date her, or a woman wasn’t attractive but was throwing herself at him. His point was that it was all mental. With girls he liked, connected with, and dated = no problems. With girls that sucked who obviously weren’t right for him and he knew that consciously or unconsciously = erectile problems.

Tucker had this problem with girls who were hot but awful people. He wrote about an awful woman in his book and the sex he had with her. If I remember the story right he went limp while he was inside of her and she was faking an orgasm. It was a funny but depressing story. I can’t remember which book it was in. Also, I remember a lawsuit being involved, and it wasn’t Miss Vermont.

Nils tells a particularly fucked up story about a girl in college who hated him when she was sober but wanted to fuck him when she was drunk. He went to hookup with her and lost his erection during sex because emotionally he wasn’t there. On a deeper level, he wasn’t attracted to her. His dick knew this was a bad idea even if he didn’t so it got the hell out of there.

That’s how important this emotional stuff is. Nils had issues when he was in college, an age that for men is peak testosterone, peak sex drive, and there was no online porn to blame it on back then (I think, not sure how old he is).

These emotional barriers (“why am I fucking this awful person” or “this person hates me”) short-circuited their physical abilities and they couldn’t get hard or stay hard. Testosterone levels or sex drive didn’t matter.

This is deep stuff that I’ve never really heard any man talk about. I’ve heard women say that they weren’t there emotionally so they couldn’t have sex with a guy. And I think that’s the cultural narrative: women are more emotional beings, men are less emotional. But maybe that’s bullshit. We’re probably all emotional because we’re all human. Men are just expected to suppress it and are better at hiding it while it’s more accepted for women to cry or “be emotional.” We talked about this in Episode 12 about vulnerability, why men have trouble showing emotions, and why I thought it was lame to cry while reading a book. This might be one reason why men are 3-4X as likely as women to kill themselves.

They were really vulnerable here. If this has happened to them, shit it’s probably happened to a lot of men. I’m glad they decided to tell these stories. It helps put these things in perspective and I don’t feel as bad about myself and my issues.

@42:30 – I am lost and Tucker loses it

I just wasn’t getting it and didn’t directly understand how this was the same problem I was having. Probably because I’m dense or I didn’t connect the ideas and experiences. Tucker got a little upset because it wasn’t obvious to me. Looking back it’s pretty obvious and I’m able to understand and write about the parallels here, but in the moment I was struggling to connect the dots. Nils explains it more here. Tucker is frustrated.

@45:30 – Nils’s more recent problems

If he has problems now, it’s because of work anxiety.

“My wife has a jungle gym for a body.” This was funny but his point was that his wife is gorgeous AND there’s no problem with him physically yet he still has problems when there are other big mental or emotional issues going on in his life, like work deadlines or big projects coming up.

Meditating and having a disciplined work schedule are how he fixes this issue: “When I have all my ducks in a row at work it’s off to the races.”

@48:00 – What I can do going forward

1. Get a test and look at your blood levels.

2. “Start jacking it!” This was a joke but his point was if you have these urges, don’t suppress them. Masturbation is a pleasure not a chore. Recently I’ve looked at it as a waste of time and something “bad” or something to be ashamed of.

“If masturbation doesn’t feel good to you because you think that you are a bum because you’re doing it, then you need to look at your thoughts and your emotions related to that.”
– Tucker

“It’s called beating off, not beating up [yourself].” HAHAHA

@50:00 – Your thoughts are a choice

I talk about how thinking or feeling bad about myself after jacking off isn’t a choice and Tucker corrects me.

“To a large extent, your thoughts are a choice… your logical thoughts are definitely a choice. That’s why you focus on reason and logic so much because your emotional life is so chaotic and painful, and you can’t control it. So you focus on what you can control, your rational thoughts. I do that a lot too. It’s a recipe for disaster.” – Tucker

Nils put it a better way: “It’s not just that you can’t control it, you can’t make heads or tails out of it so you are trying to order it.”

The only way to get a grip on them is to engage them and process them. Recognize them, name them, verbalize them, and bring them up to the surface. You can do this by:

1. Meditation
2. Journaling
3. Talk therapy
4. Talking to friends or family

This Helping Joe episode and past ones are also a great way to do this: “This was a painful hour for you, but your life will get better.” – Tucker

@52:30 – She still liked me after and wanted to go out again

“All these things that you think are mortifyingly embarrassing about yourself, she is cool with because she likes you as a person and you’re a good dude.” – Tucker

Yep, I dress like either an oddball or a boring dude, I don’t have a car (she drives me around), my knows my place is a shithole, and I don’t spend a lot of money when we go out and she still likes me because of all these other positive traits that I have. That feels pretty good and it’s nice that he recognized that because I usually don’t take the time to recognize that for myself. I’m getting better at this with the 5 Minute Journal.

What I can do going forward:

– Start allowing the emotions you have to come up and have a voice (see the 4 things above)
– Examine them, see what they are.
– And decide how you are going to deal with them, what you are going to do.

Don’t ignore, or suppress or withdraw from them.

“Your goal is to like you as much as she likes you.” – Nils
Haha, this was a great point Nils made. And Tucker followed up with more on this.

Man, it sucked that we had to end the podcast here because this was some great stuff we were getting into and I still feel lost. But at least now I have a direction to go in and things I can do.

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