25th of May 2015

Helping Joe, Episode 17


In this week of Helping Joe, Joe continues to have the same ED issues and performance anxiety that he talked about in Episode 16. Nils and Charlie help him figure out what he can do to get hard again, how to talk to the girl he is having sex with about these problems, and why to work on enjoying sex together instead of just struggling by himself. They also talk about another awful shirt Joe wore (pics on the blog below), an update with a girl from his improv class, why sleep is so important, and how to get better sleep.

Books that were recommended in this episode:
Slow Sex
The Name of the Wind
Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal


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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


  • The wrong way to think about sex
  • How to avoid anxiety and take the pressure off when having sex
  • How to talk to a woman about your performance issues
  • Why the goal of sex is not ejaculation
  • Update with the improve girl from Episode 11
  • How to get more & better sleep and why it’s so important

Beginning – Update on the girl from last episode

So having problems in bed, the lack of hardness I talked about from last episode, didn’t matter that much to her. I’ve been reading the advanced copy of Mate and there’s this great bit in there about how women don’t want to just orgasm. If they did, there are easier and safer ways to do that then putting a strange man’s penis in her. There’s all these other things other than orgasm that really matter. Also, we talked about it in that Episode 16 but this was just further proof. She likes me for all these other reasons and we went out on another great date.

She wanted to go see a comedian she really liked, but she said his show was sold out. I looked it up online, saw a bunch of tickets, and bought them. I texted her
And she was super excited to go.

@4:00 – Fun at the old video rental store

I was wiped out after eating donut burgers and sitting down for 2 hours. I felt like I needed a nap and didn’t want to go get drinks. So I we rented a movie at this store and went back to her place.

Even the video rental place was really cool and had all these movies I had never heard or old classics I hadn’t watched in forever, walking around the place I was fucking tired. So I tried to snap myself out of it by thinking of what was the most fun I could have right here, right now.

The game I came up with here was pretty fun. Basically, I took random movies that I had never heard of but had odd covers and I just made up the plot, acting like I knew what it was all about. I would not have been able to do this if I hadn’t taken improv classes or done this podcast (“How can I have fun?”)

I also ended on a high note (a big laugh from her) like Costanza!

@6:00 – Still having problems with hardness

This was the 2nd time this happened and it was still really embarrassing and humiliating.

This time I talked with her about it and she was cool. She wasn’t upset or anything.

Nils talks about how it’s almost certainly mental, but there’s a slight chance it’s physical and to make sure that it is not:

“Right now you’re just groping around in the darkness trying to figure out what the hell’s going on, and that just adds to anxiety and uncertainty, increasing the likelihood that this will happen the next time because you don’t know what’s going on.”

Yea he’s right. That’s how I feel right now. There’s this problem. I seem to be in good shape physically. I don’t know what the problem is. And because I’m not certain and I know that I haven’t solved it, this will probably happen again which sucks.

They said in that last episode that it’s probably emotional but not sure what issue exactly, could be a number of issues like sexual shame and performance anxiety. I don’t know. I still feel lost and not sure how to fix this. It probably won’t be a quick fix either.

@9:00 – Thinking about sex, step by step (procedurally)

I’m still procedural about having sex, thinking about getting hard and staying hard, which research says is more likely to make me choke. When you think about an activity step by step when it doesn’t work that way, your brain can’t flow. I’m getting the neuroscience wrong, but it makes sense if you go read Choke.

They try to break down the problem and figure out where the problem was, asking for details, etc., which I am already terrible at giving. This was hard to talk about.

@13:30 – Maybe the problem is sexual compatibility

I don’t know. I haven’t slept with any girls in last 6 months, so it might be possible but I don’t think so. This has happened in the past with girls.

Charlie recommends the book Slow Sex here: “Right now you’re trying to have a rock star performance instead of staying in the moment and putting so much pressure on yourself that you set yourself up to fail.”

Small win: When you get hard just put it in!

@16:00 – Talking to her about it. Get her on your team.

Get that win on your belt so you can focus on the slow sex and things around the act.

I did talk to her about it and she was cool with it (@7:00)

@18:00 – When this has happened in the past

In the past I was usually good to go (my dick was hard) when we slept together the 3rd or 4th time. Maybe I need to just be patient and relax and let it happen. Still I feel like this is weird though… It’s weird that I can’t get it up the first few times I am intimate and want to have sex with a woman.

@19:00 – Chappelle bit about this… It’s not your responsibility

“When I come, it’s right on time!” It was funny Charlie mentioned this. Chappelle is awesome.

Charlie’s point here was that I was putting too much responsibility on myself to get the job done (get hard and make her come) or to make sure she was happy and having a great time. This is ridiculous because there’s 2 people and it’s a dance. I’m not the director and she’s just an actor. We’re partners in a dance. Work as a team to get me hard and to enjoy this (that sounds weird).

Again this is probably the same anxiety I have in other areas of dating or at improv: I hope I perform well and that she likes this. But the reality is it’s not all on me. They’ve told me this a bunch of times, but in the back of my head I still feel like it is on me. And it’s my fault if something goes wrong or if she doesn’t enjoy it.

At least I did the right thing by talking with her about it in the moment in bed when this was happening and was being honest about the situation (my dick wasn’t hard and I didn’t know why, she’s hot and I like her, I don’t know what’s wrong). This was embarrassing but it was better than not saying anything at all.

“There’s no responsibility for anyone for anything… [an erection is] an involuntary physiological response to sexual stimuli. Responsibility is not even a word that belongs in this discussion.”
Hahahhaa, yea that makes sense and is an important point that I just didn’t think about it: I can’t force myself to get hard. I have no control over it. The only thing I can do is make sure I’m healthy and we’re in a good setting or mood for it to happen, but can’t will my dick to get hard and neither can she, not how it works.

Why do I feel like this -> “Because you’ve been hammered by guilt and fucked up expectations your entire life, like most men.” – Nils
Yep. In this episode and the last one I’m starting to think that growing up catholic might have fucked me up in more ways that I thought, even though I haven’t engaged in any religious practice in years.

“The goal of sex is not ejaculation. It is an end that is natural to the action… You’re not in a race to jerk off inside of each other. That’s not sex.”

Haha again I have to laugh at this because he’s right. If I truly just wanted an ejaculation, I would have stayed home and jerked off (then felt bad about it after). And if coming is all she wanted, she would have stayed home with a dildo. Ejaculation and coming is not why we decided to have sex. It’s not the goal but the natural end. Charlie also mentioned earlier how women have a lot of mental pressure to have an orgasm.

“There’s one act of making love, not two parallel acts. You are two parts to one process… Treat her like a partner in all these things… Don’t just have her stand in the closet and wait until you get hard, ‘Ok come on out. I’m ready for you.’”

This is funny but true because this is how I was thinking. I even thought about going to the bathroom to get try to get hard on my own because I was too embarrassed to talk with her about it or have her help me get hard. I didn’t do this but I considered it briefly. Same thing as having her wait in a closet, which is hilarious.

@26:00 – Talking to her about this

They explain why it’s better to talk to her and explain what’s going on & why this is happening instead of “I don’t know…”

When you leave an information gap, she will fill it with her worst fears and insecurities, which are way worse than what’s actually going on. We’ve talked about this before on Episode 14 but the context was canceling a date.

This is really embarrassing but I will at least try to do this if it happens again.

Who knows, maybe even talking about it will help get through this emotional block, be more relaxed and things will start working again.

“Reach out to her because maybe she can help you through it in some way that you didn’t expect… You don’t have to do these things alone or sit in your thoughts by yourself, isolating yourself.” – Charlie

This is a really good point.

@30:00 – “Putting yourself out there puts you in a vulnerable place”

Nils talks about how one source of my anxiety might be that I am going over to her place instead of staying at mine. His point was that it’s less comfortable, less safe, foreign, you don’t know it well. And that might lead to anxiety on an unconscious level. So… get your fucking shit together and get a nice play!

“You don’t have a safe place for yourself. You’re out on a wire.”

They give possible solutions to this problem and furnish my god damn room.

“You’re in good shape. You’re smart. You’re getting funnier. You have things going for you. But you have this thing (you look like you belong in a favela) over you.” -Nils

“You don’t have a place that you can go back to and feel good about. Your environment is a reflection of your inner chaos.” – Charlie

Nils talks about how he loses it if he is away from home for like a week. And that’s totally true. I went home for a few days this week and go completely out of sync.

“If you can’t feel like you have a nest where you’re protected or place where can feel proud to bring someone… that comfort alone is enough to mitigate at least some of this anxiety.” – Nils

I never really thought about it this way. I don’t have any “problems at home” like a bad roommate or shitty neighbors or even broken appliances. I have a good apartment, it’s just that my room is shit. But still I can see how could influence your emotions, totally make sense.

Nils then tells me to sell my awful clothes to buy a bed.

@33:00 – Another goofy shirt I wore on this date.

See photo below. She made fun of me for this but I had a good time with it. We were both in on the joke because I recognized and pointed out that this shirt might be ridiculous but whatever.

Nils & Charlie gave me a lot of shit for this:
– “Park ranger at Urban Outfitters”
– “Snoop Dog ten years ago”
– “the abortion that is this shirt”
– “when my dog eats too much grass, that’s what his puke looks like”

More via email, not on podcast:

– If that Food Network show “Chopped” was about fashion, and all the materials in the basket were made out of shit, this is the shirt the first losing contestant would make.

Today’s ingredients:

– Brown leather flaps from a teepee,
– Green tarp from a backstop,
– Teddy buttons from Build-a-Bear.

You have 10 seconds.

– It’s the fashion equivalent of a suicide note.

(For anyone wondering, no… this is not Joe in the picture)


This is similar advice to past episodes. I’m still not totally getting at this point because I keep wearing this dumb shit.

“If you ended hooking up with somebody… it will always be in spite of this shirt, which is a testament to your other qualities. You have enough good qualities as a guy to overcome this abomination.”

@38:30 – Nils talks about when it’s okay to wear

Basically his point was if it’s a joke, go ahead and wear this to a sports bar or out with your friends. (One of my roommates does this well actually.) But Nils wouldn’t wear that nonsense to a date with his wife or to a meeting.

I was not wearing this as a joke, unfortunately.

“Your clothes don’t need bells & whistles. Your personality traits are the bells & whistles.” – Nils

He’s right. That’s a really good point.

Charlie tells me to send them 5 go to date shirts if I can find them. I send him & Nils in a later episode.

@45:00 – Improv girl update

We talked about this girl on Episode 11. We matched on Hinge and it’s kinda ridiculous I haven’t asked her out by now. Nils lays out all the objective evidence and reasons why I should ask her out.

I kinda asked her out, she said she was busy, and didn’t give me any other suggestions. Nils makes the point that she has a life outside of improv and outside of dating. Or that improv/dating is a small part of that life. She has other shit going on.
Maybe I need to ask her out in person instead of through texts or Hinge app. Unfortunately, I pussed out at the next improv class and didn’t ask her out.

They say she’s definitely into me, but I’m still not sure. I don’t know. Why when I ask her out, she’s said no, and hasn’t made a move to make it easy for us to go out. No suggestions, no “how about next week”, but she is still sending signals that she’s interested.

@52:00 – Missing an opportunity here. She will eventually move on.

“If you want to see this girl, you’re running out of opportunities because she’s going to get tired of this.” – Nils
Yea I think she already has. I should have asked her out a month ago after we went out on that first semi-date.

“Or another improviser will ask her out.” – Charlie

Charlie talks about an ex-girlfriend he dated when he was doing improv classes and how he was much better for it. “It made it more fun. I got to go through improv with a partner.” That’s sounds pretty cool.

I’m also looking at the downside too much and jumping to the worst case scenario (my improv class will suck or people will hate me). I have a bad pattern of doing this. “There will never not be risk, but here you have eliminated about as much risk as humanly possible up to this point… She’s given you all the signs you could possibly need to know that at least she’s going to give you a fair chance when it comes to dating.” – Nils

@56:00 – Charlie asks me if I am going to ask her out.

I answer ‘yes’ but it was a half-assed ‘yes’, just the way I say it is fucked up. In the back of my head I was probably nervous or embarrassed that I haven’t already asked her out. And to be honest I feel like I already missed out on a good opportunity here.

Nils makes a point about reputational damage if you string a woman along or don’t make a fucking move. This is where I’ve fucked up in the past by being too flirty with female friends (they got sad or angry when I didn’t make a move) or not as forward with girls I really like (they got annoyed and disinterested)

@57:30 – Don’t be self-deprecating

Nils tells me to cut through being evasive and be more assertive or confident in asking her out. Active language. Haha, I suck at active language, honestly. You can hear this in the podcast. I use so many damn fillers in between words. “I want to take you out.” / “Let’s go out.”

@1:00:00 – I bailed on Charlie’s Recess event

Charlie does a fun play event called Recess in Austin. I told him I would come but I didn’t. It was on a Sunday and I thought about it all day, I knew I should go, I said I would go, but I didn’t. I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before, I was behind on work I wanted to get done. And I made up a few other excuses and just didn’t go. I didn’t think he’d notice.

Charlie’s advice / to-do: Next time, go over to his apartment and go with him so there’s less awkwardness or nervousness.

@1:01:00 – You always talk about how you feel like shit

Charlie & Nils point out that I say “I felt like shit” a lot. Or I didn’t do something because I was tired. Yea they’re right. I do say this a lot.

They recommend seeing a doctor and getting my blood levels checked out, but I think they might be exaggerating.

“There’s been a clear pattern where you short-circuit your attempts at being social and one of the excuses you have trotted out is that you have felt like shit from something. It’s a constant theme, regular pattern for you.”

So either I’m depressed, my sleep routines suck, or there’s something physically wrong like with hormones or whatever. I don’t know.

To be honest, I think its sleep. I usually stay up late at night and push through initial tiredness that I feel. I know that’s not good for my health but I do it anyways. I don’t know why.

Nils says it’s still good to see a doctor and find out if all my levels are normal. Just so it’s one less thing to worry about.

1:08:00 – Getting better sleep

“This whole podcast is about building foundational habits so that you can grow into being the best version of yourself in order to achieve your goals. Sleep is as foundational as it gets.” – Nils

Go to sleep at the same time every night is key, sleep in a dark room, disconnect from technology.

Sleep is the #1 for health (mental & physical), willpower, and other things. Investing in better sleep pays so many dividends down the road.

“It’s clearly impacting your ability to connect social with new people. The energy and enthusiasm just isn’t there for you.” – Nils

Nils is totally right here. I’m tired a lot and it fucks me up socially, mentally, etc.

Read fiction: They recommended The Name of the Wind and Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal.

Nils also made a point about how the power of fiction or story helps connects the dots for other things in your life. This was an interesting point but it went over my head.

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