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I Just Experienced a Sexual Horror Story. Will I Ever Bounce Back?


In this week's installment of our advice column ¡Hola Papi!, John Paul Brammer breaks down the fragility of the male ego as it pertains to time between the sheets.

Welcome to !Hola Papi!, the advice column where John Paul Brammer helps people work through their anxieties, fears, and life's queerest questions. If you need advice, send him a question at

!Hola Papi!

I recently went on a couple of dates with a guy I've had a crush on for a while. I was very much looking forward to jumping his bones. The dates went well, and we went back to his place, and ... I didn't perform well. At all. He was really sweet about it, but I was mortified.

I'm pretty sure he's open to seeing me again, because he seemed disappointed that I left so soon afterwards. (I was feeling terrible about it and just wanted to GTFO.) The problem is, I feel like I can't go on another date with him until I prove that I'm actually good at sex! I usually get accolades from the people I'm with so this was a huge blow to my ego. I want to go out with him again but I feel like I won't pay attention to anything until I get another chance at it. But even then I'm terrified that I'll be too in my own head about it and it'll happen again.

What should I do? Text him to see if he's available for a quick hookup and get it out of the way? Go on another date with him and deal with the fact that we'll both be thinking about how poorly last time went the whole time we're sitting there? I like him a lot, and I don't want to reduce him to this mountain I have to climb to prove my worth but .... yeah that's kind of exactly how I feel. Help!

Bad Sex Haver

Oh, BSH.

I have wonderful news for you. The problem here is entirely with your own fragile ego and has nothing to do with the other person at all. This is cause for celebration. Come, allow me to place this flower crown on your head and we will go dance around the maypole in joyful observance of an uncomplicated situation that is firmly within your power to fix.

It might sound like I'm being harsh in attributing your dilemma to a "fragile ego," but I assure you I mean no offense whatsoever. All of our egos are fragile. That's what egos do. It's the ego's job to take everything personally, to wonder if perhaps we aren't good enough, but then, if confronted with evidence that we might not be perfect, to overcompensate by convincing us that we are in fact flawless beings who've surely encountered a glitch in the system and we need only another shot to prove it. That's hubris, BSH! Very human. The Greeks got a lot of mileage out of it.

And you know, ego isn't all bad. You're not going to make it through this life without being at least a little delusional. Take it from me. If we can't imagine ourselves as better than we are, our plights as more romantic and our dalliances as more substantial than reality can afford, then we probably aren't going to have a good time. Drama keeps us going. If we only dealt with the raw facts of existence, we would lose our minds.

At the same time, it's important to know when to check your own ego. Right now, yours is telling you that you're really, really good at sex. Even in this letter, you felt it necessary to affirm to me that, in fact, you've received plenty of positive feedback before (accolades, even!) and this is really such an embarrassing mess you've found yourself in. I don't think we are going to have sex, as Papi is an internet abstraction with no physical attributes, so I can neither confirm nor deny your claim. But I can say: Who cares?

You either get pleasure or you don't. Your chemistry with another person either works or it doesn't, or it works in one situation but not in another. There are so many ways to share pleasure and so many ways to have sex. It's common sense that they won't all be compatible. Sometimes, in bed, a guy will try something I don't like that I know, I just know, earned him enthusiastic moans in the past and so he wants to try it again. He'll bite my nipple or something, an action some other dude probably loved, but an action that I, a delicate flower to be handled with utmost care, absolutely do not care for. It's neither good nor bad. It just means we have to communicate what we want and how we want it.

Look at the spoils before you, BSH. You have a guy you seem to be into who still wants to see you. Do you know how rare that is to find in the !Hola Papi! inbox? Do I need to forward you some letters to see how lucky you are? Would you rather switch places with this dude from rural South Dakota who's trying to pick up signs from the mailman who shows up once a month and whom he's writing erotic fan fiction about? No? Then eat your food!

I kid. One experience need not invalidate another, and what you're experiencing is a terribly common dilemma cisgender men in the world have all too often. My advice would be to get over this idea that you need to have sex with him again to prove yourself wrong. That's not a healthy way to look at your burgeoning relationship and it reduces him to a hurdle. It puts his body and his needs in the context of a mere arena in which you feel you must prove yourself. That's not good. The more in your head you get about this, anyway, the worse the sex will end up being.

Communicate to each other what you like and what you don't like. And if it's still not good, then maybe you just lack physical chemistry. But making it all about whether you're a sex god or a perpetual bad lay isn't doing anyone any favors. It doesn't have to be that serious. Your ego is making it that serious because it doesn't have anything better to do. Congrats on the sex! I hope it goes better next time around.

Con mucho amor,

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