Things to do when you can’t get an erection

Image by the amazing Stuart F Taylor

First things first: when people say ‘it happens all the time!’ I cannot stress enough just how true this actually is. Perhaps I’m wildly unattractive or extremely intimidating (lol ‘perhaps’ – I have been informed on various occasions that I am both of these things, but some men choose to fuck me anyway so I’m gonna work on the assumption that they’re not just making it up for lolz) but rest assured it’s reasonably common. Please trust me on this – I’m a big slag who has been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with dick. Most people I’ve shagged for any length of time have at some point found they can’t get an erection. I am not qualified to tell you how to magically make one appear, but I can give you some suggestions on what to do if you find yourself in that situation and you struggle to move past it.

Important health bits first: there are sometimes medical issues that may be getting in the way of your boner, so if it happens frequently or you’ve noticed significant recent changes in your erectile function then please do talk to your doctor about it. I promise they won’t bite, and they definitely shouldn’t shame you – they too understand how common erection issues can be, and will be able to check to make sure there isn’t an underlying health concern.

What I’m referring to here though isn’t ‘erectile dysfunction’ caused by heart issues, diabetes or any of that stuff. I am talking about occasional dick struggles that most people deal with at some point or another. Sometimes you can’t get an erection because of booze, sometimes it’s drugs, sometimes nerves. Sometimes the condom doesn’t fit right or you’re stressed and can’t get out of your head. I have a theory that unfamiliarity can sometimes play a role too. You’re less likely to get nervous about erections if you’re fucking someone you’ve fucked a hundred times before (including, for instance, yourself) – you know you can get hard in this situation, you’re living proof. When you’re with someone you’ve only shagged two or three times, though, inductive reasoning hasn’t yet kicked in.

It’s not always ‘erectile dysfunction’, sometimes that’s just how dicks work

Brief sidenote here on the phrase ‘erectile dysfunction’: I fully understand the importance of having a medical term for this, but I don’t like how often it’s used in a broad sense, to refer to individual instances where someone can’t get an erection. It is, of course, vital to pay attention to your body and talk to your doctor if something changes (for instance if you used to be able to get an erection fairly easily and you find there’s been a sudden uptick in how often you find yourself flaccid when you want to be hard). But the word ‘dysfunction’ isn’t helpful if we’re talking about the examples above where you’re drunk, stressed, high, nervous or what have you. A dick that won’t get hard when you’re off your face or in panic mode isn’t ‘dysfunctional’ – it’s functioning exactly as you’d expect!

It’s really important for me to emphasise that when people say ‘it’s common’, they aren’t making it up just to make you feel better. This is the key thing I tell people I’m banging if they can’t get an erection. And I mean it with my whole heart: it’s common. Don’t sweat it.

Please please please do not sweat it.

There are loads of things I, or you, or we can do if you can’t get your dick hard, and I’m willing and eager (as you’ll see below) to do plenty of different things to help both of us through what can sometimes be an awkward moment. I’m going to ask you to do one simple thing to make my own life easier, though: acknowledge what’s happening. Just acknowledge it. Say ‘I can’t get an erection’ plus whatever else you want to say – offer a reason, give reassurance, make a joke, say something kinky – your style will depend on your confidence and personality. But it’s your dick and your body, and I am not a mind-reader. So if we’re making out and you realise you can’t get hard, it’s extremely helpful for me if you try and call it before I do.

Not sure how to do that? The line I usually use when I realise things aren’t happening is…

“Shall we take a break?”

What to do if you can’t get an erection

Although my ‘take a break’ suggestion usually leads to exactly that – a break – there are plenty of other things you can do/say if you’re struggling to get a boner. Here are some ideas of things that would work very well for me (note: for me – you’ll understand why it’s important to note this somewhere around point 5):

1. Laugh about it

Say “lol fuck that’s the last time I get pissed before shagging/stay up all night before a date/have a wank two hours before we hang out – shall we grab some water/crisps/McDonalds and try again in a bit?”

This is absolutely fine, make mine a Big Mac.

2. Take a Viagra

Sometimes if I’m horny but my cunt won’t play ball, I nip to the bathroom before we fuck so I can spit-and-wipe to kick things off. It’s more complicated and expensive for you dick-owners, but there is a similar option: blue pills! They’re available over the counter in the UK these days – I literally keep some in my bedside drawer.

You don’t have to make a secret of taking Viagra either, because having problems getting hard is not a shameful thing (remember what I said at the start? This genuinely does happen ALL THE TIME and it’s TOTALLY OK and COMPLETELY COMMON I promise). The act of taking a blue pill can in fact be really horny in and of itself. For example: “There’s something really satisfying about how hard I get on blues, and I want to absolutely destroy your cunt so I’m having one – brace yourself.” Or, from a subby perspective: “I want you to ride my dick like I owe you money, and it’s yours for the whole night so I’ve just taken some Viagra – go to town.”

3. Wank me off

Tell me you’re super-horny but your dick isn’t doing what you want it to, and ask how best to give me a hand job (or, for people who like head, give ’em head). Only do this if you genuinely care though, and if you’ll truly be into it. If your cerebral horn is there even though your physical horn’s absent, make that clear and plunge into a hand job the same way I often dive into sucking your cock.

However, if the lack of boner action has killed your horn altogether, please don’t just ‘sort me out’ like I’m a chore to tick off your to-do list. That attitude/feeling is exactly what makes me so sad about the ‘determined soft cock foreplay’ that so often happens when you can’t get an erection but you don’t want to acknowledge it. You struggling to get hard is – again, louder for the people at the back – NOT A BIG DEAL. However, you ploughing grimly on with the attitude of someone who has long since forgotten I’m a person? That kicks me in the teeth. If you offer me token action as a desperate sop to try and perform horn when you’re not feeling it? I will notice, I will stop you, and I will go home worrying what I’ve done to give you the impression that I’m so scary you can’t admit when you’re not in the mood.

Are you worried I’m going to shout at you because you can’t get an erection? Weep on you? Fucking eat you? I promise I won’t. Your consent matters, cis dudes! Please don’t try to fuck me unless you really want to.

4. Tell me you’re not going to fuck me

You know how sometimes we’ll be partway through a bit of making out or foreplay and I just stop touching your dick and say ‘god that’s hot, but I’m gonna make you wait for it. Let’s get a drink/change the music/talk about things we find sexy’? I do this sometimes because I’m too in my head to actually get fucked. Because something’s putting me off, my cunt isn’t paying attention and getting wet yet or I’m nervous about how I’m going to slide sexily out of these goddamn skinny jeans and I need a bit more time to strategise. Sometimes I do it because a song came on the playlist that reminds me of a particular guy and I’m not confident I can fuck you while it’s playing. Sometimes I just do it because it’s fun to make you wait.

The point is – you’re allowed to do this too! You’re allowed to do this any time you like, for any reason you like! If we start making out, and you start fingering me, but then your brain goes ‘oh fuck my dick’s not getting hard, shit shit shit shit how are we going to shag?’ then why not just… not try to shag me? Tell me ‘you’re a horny little bitch, aren’t you?’ then pull your fingers out of my cunt, make me suck them clean, and order me to go get you a beer or something.

5. Kink it

Tell me ‘suck my fucking cock’ and shove me down there, let me try to get you hard with my mouth. Tell me ‘if you want to get fucked then you’re going to have to earn it – face down, ass up, I’m gonna beat you till my dick’s hard.’

I acknowledge that this is a very risky strategy, one you only want to take if we know each other very well indeed. But I’d argue that it’s still a far less risky plan than just continuing to make out with me while buzzing around your own head like a panicked fly, refusing to acknowledge something that we both know is happening.

6. Blame me

If you thought the above suggestion was risky, this one will feel like basejumping off Clifton Suspension Bridge but I promise you it’s been done before, to excellent effect.

“I really want to fuck you up, but your pathetic begging is putting me off. Shut the fuck up, that’s it. Good girl, keep your mouth shut. Kneel on the floor, get your fucking tits out. Look at me/don’t look at me, you needy slut. Give me five minutes and if I can’t get hard I’m gonna thrash you till you cry.”

[A similar tone can be achieved by dismissively putting some porn on, and simply telling me to ‘ssssh’]

Naturally, these suggestions are not for the faint hearted, or indeed for anyone to spring on a partner by surprise. The degradation/humiliation of being told that I’m the reason you can’t get an erection is devastating to me, and therefore devastatingly hot to me. But that’s a very personal thing – I really enjoy playing with taboo, and I enjoy that most when it’s right on the border of something genuinely traumatic.

When someone can’t get an erection, what’s usually running through my own head is ‘argh I’m not sexy enough/fun enough/good enough at blow jobs’ and I’m working double-time to try and keep that panicked feeling down. So hearing you tell me that it truly is my fault, but crucially not because I’m ugly/terrible at sex, rather because I’m a degenerate slut whose begging is putting you off your game, and who therefore needs to shut her fucking mouth and do exactly as she’s told before she gets dicked? GIMME.

The key thing to do if you can’t get an erection

As I say, the list above is my own, so I don’t go recommending you spring all these tips on a partner in the heat of the moment. Your own response will depend on your mood at the time, your and your partner’s needs and sexual styles, and what will work best for you both. As ever, sex is improv, and I’m just chucking out suggestions for you to riff off. If you do struggle to get hard occasionally though, why not try having this chat with your partner in a quiet moment? Rather than leaving it to crisis management time when you’re already stressed and worked up, cock in hand and heart in mouth and worrying that you can’t do it, send them this post and have a discussion when you’re not in the middle of trying to get your fuck on. My examples are personal, but you might be able to come up with new ideas for what you could do when the inevitable (REALLY COMMON, SERIOUSLY) happens to you. Then chuck ’em in the comments, please, so I can profit off your genius.

Above all, though, no matter what the scenario, here’s what I think is key: if you can’t get an erection at any moment in time, acknowledge it. Ideally before I do. Be the one to say ‘you’re not getting fucked/I don’t think this is happening right now/calm yourself, you massive slag, I need more foreplay than that.’

I don’t think I get overly sad these days if someone can’t get hard – there’s plenty of other fun to be had in life, after all – but I struggle with the fact that I’m usually the one who ends up calling it. Saying ‘let’s take a break’ when it’s long been clear that things aren’t going to happen. As a result, occasionally I’ve had to be the one to alert men to safety issues if they repeatedly try to thumb in a soft cock with a condom insecurely draped off the end of it. Or endured the odd humiliation when someone’s been desperately trying to get hard while simultaneously, silently performing for me as if I’m a stranger. When this happens, I promise you I’m not sad because I’m thinking mean things about your dick – your dick is behaving in a completely reasonable way for one which is attached to someone who’s drunk/high/nervous/tired/wearing an ill-fitting condom. It’s not about your dick, my dude, it’s about us as two people who are meant to be fucking friends. If you’ve made it to my bedroom (or more likely, my living-room sofa), I’m not an audience to whom you’re performing, I’m a person you’re meant to connect with.

It isn’t possible that I’m noticing this before you – you know your body better than I do. You know your mind better than I ever can too. Based on the responses from men I’ve shagged when I say ‘let’s take a break’, 90% of the time they were already thinking ‘this isn’t going to happen,’ but were waiting for me to actually call it. And I know it can be tricky, and I know it’s often embarrassing – no shade on you for feeling the monstrous pressure to do it. Society has LIED TO YOU about how common this is, so you think somehow you’re an outlier rather than a normal person who’s going through some stuff. I’m happy to hold your hand and talk you through the tricky bits, if you can promise you’ll try and be the one to call it first. If you start panicking that your dick won’t get hard, I am begging you to say so.

If what I wanted was a solid rogering with a dick that never lost rigidity, I’d crack out one of my many many dildos. But when you and I are fucking, I’m here to connect with a person. So connect with me, baby! Tell me your woes! I promise on my life I will not bite.

Unless, of course, you think that might be helpful.




  • Starcross says:

    Some excellent ideas here, one of your superpowers is clearly knowing how to make potentially awkward situations sexy (although personally I’d find it tough to hear “Shall we take a break?”, and that’s no doubt something I need to get over). I also cannot recommend highly enough trying different condoms – just as there is an immense variety of penises, there’s also an immense variety of rubber to fit them. Wearing the wrong size or type has caused me problems in the past, finding the right one definitely helped point me in the right direction.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ohhhh damn I’m sad that ‘take a break’ would hit so hard – do you have any alternative suggestions? I picked it because it feels quite neutral to me, and like something that doesn’t put onus on a specific person (specifically ‘we’ take a break rather than ‘would YOU like to take a break’ because the latter feels a bit rubbish to me). If there’s a better way to say this though, I would love to refine how I do this! I only ever say it when things have got to the point where I’ve lost my mojo because ‘determined soft cock foreplay’ makes me feel like we’re not connecting, so I want to try and say it in a way that makes reconnecting easier, not harder. Any tips v gratefully received!

      And YES thank you so much for your thoughts re: condoms too. This is such a big topic here on the blog (and in my friendship group) lately, I feel like more people are starting to realise that condoms aren’t one size fits all, which is great.

      • Girl on the net says:

        Additional: someone on Twitter recently said something like ‘normalise telling someone during sex ‘this isn’t working for me” and let me tell you I cringed into a tiny ball. If someone said that to me I might cry. I’d prefer someone to give a positive inducement to do something else like ‘please could you suck harder/softer’ or what have you rather than just flat out saying ‘this isn’t working.’

  • fuzzy says:

    Blow jobs on a flaccid cock are one of the best things ever; and I mean that from the perspective of both the suck-er and the suck-ee. It’s a real delight to be allowed to suck a non-hard cock.

    • Girl on the net says:

      YES! Couldn’t agree more fuzzy – if you have any extra tips, pls do chip in below KMB below as well. You and I are kindred flaccid-suck-job spirits. Not a sentence I ever thought I’d type =)

  • Leonardo says:

    A few tips for getting it up: get plenty of rest, stay hydrated, and don’t jerk off 8 hours before sex

  • Kiss my breasts says:

    Loved this. Really helpful, as ever.
    Can someone give me tips for sucking a non-hsrd cock please? I never know what to do

    What do you do if Viagra has no effect?

    • Girl on the net says:

      Hey KMB, OK so the question about sucking a non-hard cock might actually form a whole blog post in and of itself – I fucking LOVE doing this, and I think that for me there’s not a specific list of tips so much as the inducement to just have fun with it. Do the things you may not be able to do when it’s hard. So for instance, getting the whole thing into your mouth, rolling your tongue around it, squishing it with your lips (some people rly like it if you grip just beneath the ridge of the head with wet lips [curl your lips over your teeth so you’re not getting teeth on it] then flick your tongue back and forth/around the head itself), others like pressure/tension at the base while the whole cock is in your mouth. When it’s flaccid you’re not usually trying to (or easily able to) do the ‘up and down’ motion that you might when it’s hard, so you’re more kind of toying with it, flicking your tongue over and around, or fully sucking by creating a seal which is harder when it’s… umm… hard. Don’t feel like you have to keep it in your mouth constantly either – hold it at the base and take some time to sit back and appreciate looking at it, licking/spitting on it, experimenting with which parts (the underside of the head, the tip of the head, the ridge, shaft, balls or perineum) get someone to make the best ‘unngh’ noises as you lick. Different levels of pressure, different speeds (long, slow licks or swift flicky ones etc). Basically just get stuck in and enjoy all the sensations of a soft dick in your mouth. And of course, as you’re doing it, your partner in crime should hopefully be giving you feedback (noises or ‘yes’s or ‘that’s good’s) as you do, so you cad adapt and build depending on what they say. If they don’t say anything or make any noise, I recommend stopping, looking up at them, and saying ‘Oi, you fucker, I’m not a Fleshlight – make some fucking noise so I know what’s working’ or something more romantic like ‘do you like that? Tell me what you like best.’ Depends on the person you’re doing it to and your dynamic together!

      Then if you’re sucking someone while they’re soft, you might get to experience the awesome bit where it starts to grow hard while it’s in your mouth, and you realise after a bit of toying that suddenly it’s nudging at the back of your throat and you’re not able to fit it all in any more. That’s one of my favourite bits. UNNGH.

      To the question what to do if Viagra has no effect, it depends to be honest: if you still want to have penetrative sex, you can either take a sexy break and wait a bit (watch porn, talk about your fantasies, tell each other stories about hot things you’ve done in the past to keep the mood going), take a non-sexy break and wait a bit (have a sandwich, talk about other stuff, watch an episode of Grand Designs), or you can use a strap on (magically hard all the time without any of the flesh body’s troubles!). If you’re happy to do sex stuff that isn’t penetrative, then hand jobs/oral/mutual masturbation/all the other stuff that’s on the smorgasbord of sex!

  • wifeslayer says:

    If I find myself losing my erection to take a break I’ll just say ‘sit on my face’ something about a juicy wet cunt in my mouth that really turns me on gets me hard again instantly especially if she’s grinding all over my face and moaning, I’m very good with my tongue always get a woman to orgasm cum in my mouth then back to the fucking

  • Shy Guy says:

    And, sadly, it gets more common as you grow older. A time machine would be the best solution. “Take me back to when I was in my twenties!” Back then, it was the opposite problem. I’d get involuntary erections at the most awkward times. But that is another discussion. Oh, and Viagra can be fickle. Sometimes it works great. Sometimes it doesn’t. My wife and I have developed a strategy in which we play with each other by hand while telling each other insanely naughty fantasies. It’s fun, even if one or the other never orgasms. Of course, women can have their own version of the problem, when they can’t naturally get lubricated. Good communication and the acceptance that “these things happen” is probably the only way forward. It’s not the end of the world, although it is natural that our egos might hurt a little bit.

  • Starcross says:

    I thought a long while about how to answer this and, I think for me at least, it would be better if nothing was said. Instead maybe move onto a different body part and if nothing still happens then guide their hand down there and ask if you can watch. But again, others may be perfectly fine with hearing ‘let’s take a break ‘.

    (‘this isn’t working for me’ would destroy me too. Seems as though I’m particularly susceptible to words).

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ohhh yeah I think we might be talking at cross purposes here – those are definitely good tips and things I’d try and do, but ‘let’s take a break’ comes at the point where I don’t want to do anything sexy any more because I’ve exhausted all those ideas and my keenness has dissipated. Basically what I’m trying to end is a situation where one (or both) of us is doing stuff for the sake of erections alone, instead of joy. When the fun stops, I want to stop/timeout/take a break.

  • Jamie says:

    I hooked up with a lovely guy on Growlr. About 10 minutes in, he went limp.

    He looked like he was about to cry.

    I switched from the “fuck me now, fuck me hard, fuck me” vibe we’d had going and lay next to him just playing with his cock gently, teasingly, really enjoying the idea and the reality of exploring every bump and lump and… well, I like cocks, so I just enjoyed touching his.

    While I was doing that, we chatted. Ordinary stuff, some sexy stuff, stuff about how bad Twitter was (and this was before the Anschluß), stuiff on what his and my husband thought about hookups (they were “don’t ask, don’t tell”, Chris and I am “tell me all about in detail it while I furiously masturbate at the whole idea”), shooting the breeze really.

    And after about 20 or 30 minutes, with no warning, he suddenly came. Really powerfully, especially considering he still “only” had a semi. It was fucking marvellous.

    And then he was embarrassed about that too. He had no reason to worry: I’ve had so many wanks remembering it, he’s really in credit in every way. It’s not often you get a lovely day with good chat and then a guy randomly spaffs all over your hands as part of it.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Holy fuck this is so hot! And also… doesn’t this make you… the Dick Whisperer?! DO YOU RUN COURSES. Fully agree, this is incredible, and I hope that now he can look back on it fondly and with no shame because there is nothing shameful here, only extreme hotness. Man. Thank you for sharing. I will have to have a good hard think about this.

  • Max says:

    I’m a huge admirer of your work, and in the last few days this text has been really helpful for me. I hope it’s okay for me to relay my story. Maybe it’s of interest for you.

    A week ago, I met one of the sexiest people I hooked up with in my whole life. I swear, I don’t say this lightly; I’m in my mid 40s.

    We had sex, but I didn’t get a full erection; it was the most marvellous night anyway. But of course I couldn’t stop thinking: why just now, when I meet this incredible person? If my dick had to go half limp at some point, why couldn’t this at least happen with some other sex partner, not with this perfect, super-horny sex god/dess?

    You can probably see me getting caught in a spiral of of thoughts that are not at all helpful.

    And it was reading your notes on things to do when you can’t get an erection that helped me get out of this spiral. It was immensely helpful to hear things repeated that I know (it happens all the time) together with other things I wasn’t aware of (the kink of a half-soft cock).

    I had my second (actually first, since we’d first met at a sex positive festival) date with my new sex god/dess yesterday. My erection did not come in the way I would have liked it. I had expected this, and having contemplated on it with the help of your article, could deal with it in a way that seemed pleasant and hot for both of us. You helped me to address the topic in a playful, not in therapeutical way. They said, very confident in a very sexy way: you’re gonna fuck my brains out when you’re ready.

    I have to add that another reason why this was such a pleasant experience is that the person I’m talking about is one of the best, warmest (and at the same time alwyays super sexy!) communicators when it comes to sex that I’ve ever met (which of course is one of the reasons why they are so incredibly sexy!). But of course it still needs another person to be able to show when this warmth is needed and accept it, and having pondered on your thoughts enabled me to do that – and from there on to be rough and brutal when, in turn, that’s what they needed from me.

    I hope you don’t think this long narration wasn’t uncalled for. Actually this was just an incredibly wordy way of saying thank you for providing your texts for free (donation’s on the way though;) and doing this amazing work which is at the same time highly intellectually stimulating and super horny-making (because, of course, those two things are so closely intertwined in your writing) – and which, on top of that, was really helpful for me!

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