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My Date Showed Up, But My Erection Didn't

Updated: May 30, 2023

date night with couple who have ED

Have new partner anxiety? Don’t let erectile dysfunction and sexual performance issues derail your dating life, especially for this Valentine's Day. Some of you are probably seeing someone new, and it’s been a while since you’ve been intimate with someone. If this sounds like you, you're also probably wondering:

“But, what happens when my date shows up and my erection doesn't?”

We’ve all been there...

When things are hot and heavy with someone new and then you take your pants off and your penis doesn’t want to “perform”. What gives? Now the both of you are sitting there awkwardly not knowing what to do and then crazy thoughts start flooding both of your minds. This is when both parties start to enter a mental spiral of “whose fault is it?”.

“Is it me?” or “Is it them?

Erectile dysfunction is very common in guys of ALL ages. Even guys under the age of 40 can experience ED for both physical reasons and mental reasons too.

But, Is it situational or something worse? Let’s find out together.

There Is No Right Or Wrong Way To React When Erectile Dysfunction Happens

Seriously… You can’t predict what you will do or what your new partner will do at the moment. You can only learn from the situation and hope that your partner is mature enough to do the same with you.

Even if they don’t fully understand, it’s your job to explain how you feel so they can understand you. ED is not the end of the world and talking about it actually helps!

couple talking about ED

And let’s face it; guys are emotional creatures too. Get it out of your head that your masculinity is defined by ONLY your penis and sexual prowess. We require some form or level of connection to feel safe and secure with someone we’re going to have sex with (even if it’s just a little connection).

You’re not some tough guy who is supposed to be 100% turned on all the time with a raging boner ready to go. This is not how erections work… Don't let negative peer pressure or bad marketing tactics convince you otherwise.

So, take a moment to relax and reflect on the situation. Did you know that guys have some erectile mishaps 20% of the time? It’s mainly because of situational events that could be the cause of your erection problems when having sex with someone new.

But the thing to worry about is that sometimes it can happen more than once or become a self-fulfilling prophecy if you let it. This becomes a vicious cycle of psychological ED.

man dealing with erectile dysfunction

Understand That ED Can Be Situational And Different For Everyone…

ED in a long-term relationship is different from meeting someone new for the first time and not being able to get hard. These are two entirely different spectrums to consider.

Someone in a relationship can have ED because of health issues, or perhaps mental obstacles in the relationship like stress, not meeting the needs of their partner in other aspects of the relationship, etc. But, the big difference is that this partner knows you (has a connection with you), has seen you naked, knows your penis size and difficulties, etc.

man and woman in bed together

Meeting someone for the first time can be nerve-wracking and uncomfortable for many of us. Both parties don’t really know each other (or what to expect) and the situations that lead up to a casual hook-up or the beginning of a potential relationship can make the sex good or terrible. If you’re meeting someone new, woman or man, you have to understand your mind, body, and biomechanics.

For example, the process of an erection involves other actions besides the mechanical process. An erection starts in the brain. It sends a signal via the spinal cord through the parasympathetic nervous system causing a release of nitric oxide, NO, a neurotransmitter that chemically relaxes the smooth muscles in the corpora cavernosa, the two expansion chambers in the penis.

This then causes blood flow to enhance or expand the erectile tissue causing a rigid erection. This is a short version of it.

It is also important to note that there are different ways or situations to achieve an erection. The erection is essentially a reflex action that cannot be consciously willed. There are actually 3 types of erections you should be aware of:

  • Psychogenic erections (mental stimulation or arousal that involves the somatic nervous system)

  • Reflexive erections (By physical touch or involving the parasympathetic nervous system)

  • Nocturnal erections (Typically during REM sleep where the body heals itself)

Again erections are situational. But, back to dating and not being able to get one as opposed to getting one on your own, is often considered situation-dependent and most of the time temporary or short-term.

man dealing with ED and erection issues

Examples Of The Most Common Situations Than Can Cause You To Have Temporary Or Short Term Erectile Dysfunction

Drinking too much alcohol, which we know can impair the brain and cause “whisky dick”. COVID-19 has brought a lot of us to drink more. We know guys like to drink to gain “liquid courage” to help with their approach, but it can be your own worst enemy if you drink too much or are dehydrated. It’s best to hydrate in between drinks if you plan on going on a date with someone new or just refraining from drinking at all.

Stress is also another huge factor. Maybe you’re anxious or feel that you need to wow your partner the first time around. This can cause performance anxiety or pressure when performing. Guys have a common fear of not being able to satisfy their partners. It’s not uncommon for guys to feel this way when meeting someone new.

You should try to be in the moment regardless of the erection issue. Maybe your stress is not sex-related and more about what’s going on in your own personal life. Work, family, friends, and other stressful situations outside the bedroom can lead you to not being able to perform. It’s best to relax and avoid these distractions.

man dealing with erectile dysfunction from stress

We wrote an article about how the nervous system is linked to ED. If you’re constantly in “fight or flight” mode (activating your sympathetic nervous system) your body is going to tense up and be anxious and distracted by the feeling. Your body is not going to cooperate with what’s going on in the moment and not send a signal to your penis to relax and get hard. You want to activate your parasympathetic nervous system to relax and calm down.

Medication or drug use (yes, we mean both recreational and medical drugs).

Maybe you’re mixing medication with alcohol (NO Bueno). I get that drugs or medications are meant to treat certain health issues, but don’t overtake or mix them to help you to “relax” for your date. Examples like SSRI’s or drugs to help with anxiety and stress are often linked to ED. Even medication for blood pressure could be an issue. It’s best to talk to your doctor to switch to a brand that doesn’t have side effects of ED.

If the drugs you’re taking aren’t a prescription medication, it’s time to grow up. Drugs do more harm to the body than you think. It doesn’t make you look cool to feel “numbed”. It only makes you known as that guy who was too drugged up and couldn’t get hard.

Sexual Inexperience or First Timers. Sometimes it’s not about the drugs, alcohol, or stress going on in your life. Maybe it’s inexperience with sex in general. Unfortunately, some guys (if not more) don’t talk about the nitty-gritty about their sex lives when it comes to mistakes or wanting to learn more. Some guys either mask it up by trying to “humblebrag” or exaggerate their sexual encounters to make them look good in the eyes of others.

man and woman kissing

Maybe it’s not knowing the size of your penis and what size condom you should be wearing that’s frustrating you and causing you to go limp when it’s time for sex. A lack of experience with putting on condoms can easily deflate your erection.

Sexual inexperience or first-timers usually have poor sexual education. It’s not their fault because society truly lacks it. Maybe it’s not understanding real-life sexual encounters because the closest thing they can refer to sex is from porn. Porn is not realistic sex and is often smoke and mirrors. It can cause anxiety for some guys if the expectation in real life is different than what they saw in a 30-minute video the night before.

Sex takes time and practice. That’s the bottom line. Instead of looking at porn for the answer, it’s better to keep reading because orgasms and sex in real life are different than in porn.

Other Examples Of Situations That Can Cause Short Term ED:

Not getting enough quality sleep. Usually, dates take place during the night. If you’re not getting enough quality sleep on a consistent basis then you might be too tired to perform or your desire for sex won't be as high as opposed to getting a full night's rest. Sleep is really important and not getting enough quality sleep can jeopardize your Testosterone levels.

Maybe you’re not comfortable or ready to get back out there. Are you comfortable opening up to this person? If it’s a situation mentioned above, can you move past it together? Can you actually connect with this person (even if it's something small)?

Ideally, you need to self-reflect about these situations, when they happen, and what actions to take to prevent them from happening again.

“But, do I have to talk about it with my partner?”


The important thing is to address these situations with that person you’re sleeping with so the problem can resolve in the short term and help you in the future with other sexual partners (if this one didn’t progress into anything).

You don’t want to develop recurring Psychological ED. In some ways, it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy that you’re going to fail at getting an erection, or the success of having sex is dependent on your ability to get an erection and to keep it up. This is a nasty mental spiral that can ruin a guy’s confidence to perform again in the bedroom or with others in the future.

If you deny your feelings or pretend it never happened, it’s only going to make things worse.

woman peeling a banana representing ED

Be The First To Start The Conversation

Say, for instance, it’s your 2nd date (hypothetically speaking, there is no rush if you don’t want to) and you guys finally decide to have sex. You’ve built up all this sexual tension between you two since the first date and started off with foreplay. As your date shows up (sexually ready), and your erection doesn’t, everything begins to spiral out of control.

You guys stop and it’s awkward for a minute or two. You awkwardly try to stroke yourself to get it up. Your dick goes from flaccid to semi-hard and then back to flaccid. You start to feel hot, but not in a good way, and then that’s when you start to panic. Thoughts start flooding your brain and that’s when anxiety starts kicking in making you frustrated, distracted, and limp as a noodle.

“I swear, it’s never happened before..”


Take a deep breath to relax and put the brakes on for a few minutes. Take control of the moment and self-reflect. You NEED to relax. Most likely your partner might be confused and is waiting for an explanation or doubting their abilities as they might think it’s their fault.

Now what comes next is dependent on how you’re feeling and what your partner is feeling.

You NEED to RELAX - First

The best thing to do is to first get to a point where you feel relaxed or not “hot” anymore. Most of the time when you’re anxious you start to feel symptoms of being hot or your body feels like it’s overheating. This is a VERY common symptom of feeling anxious (there are others too). Breathing in and out should be the first step to relax. This and to stop trying to stroke yourself as this is overexerting yourself and adding to your anxiety levels. Right now, you’re too tense and you’re not going to get hard…yet.

man and woman on a date talking about erectile dysfunction

Next, you need to distract yourself from the situation about your erection failing. Easy right? Wrong. As we mentioned earlier, there is no right or wrong reaction or know-how for what comes next. It’s best to bring up the issue. In most cases, it can resolve right then and there and you can actually continue with having sex (I’ve done it before).

Maybe you can take the lead of the conversation and say that you feel nervous/anxious and are trying to relax. I constantly say this (that you need to relax) because we mentioned earlier and in previous posts that when your body is functioning with the sympathetic nervous system cranked all the way up, you tense up.

Blood is not going to flow to your penis if you’re feeling anxious. It doesn’t matter if you pop a Viagra or Cialis. If you’re too anxious/nervous, you’re not going to successfully get it up.

Being more on the spectrum of the parasympathetic nervous system will get you to calm down and focus on the arousal part/start the process of your erection.

Be In The Moment With Your Partner Sexually

I’ve had some hiccups like this in my past. We all have had this happen to us at some point in our lives. But, what I noticed from my experience is that not talking about it or just ending sex right then and there just made things even worse.

Personally, I’ve learned to move forward, literally. I’m talking about not being “mute” or pretending it didn’t happen. I’m talking about finding a resolution and addressing the root cause. Talking about it definitely helps and expressing your feelings can help you relax even more.

For instance, we all have insecurities. Maybe your partner does have some insecurities that you don’t know about. If you open up, chances are it will be reciprocal and they’ll open up to you (and this, in turn, builds a sexual connection/trust between the two of you).

man with ED having a conversation about it

Sometimes it doesn’t always have to be a conversation right then and there. The conversation could be after sex. It really depends on their reaction and whether or not they want to continue. If you continue with their pleasure it can help distract you from the problem you had.

For example, if I was overly anxious, I would move the attention to my partner.

By doing so, I was able to relieve some of the pressure I had internally about my erection hiccup. I was able to focus more on the erotic aspect of what was happening at the moment with my partner. This would then get me aroused and ready for sex. For example, going back to foreplay or making them orgasm with my hands and mouth. Being in the moment and causing their orgasm would make me regain my hardness.

Now, some guys prefer to avoid continuing sex because they want to talk about it first, or they don’t want to talk about it yet. There is no right or wrong in my opinion. But, when you do talk about it, just openly say you get nervous or anxious with new people and that you just want to relax and have fun (emphasis on relaxing and having fun).

Just be open to saying that you still want to continue to please them in other ways until you’re ready and more comfortable to perform (chances are you will once you relax).

woman in bed

Be Optimistic About Your Erections

I’m not going to pull the carpet from under you and say that you’re not going to get hard or any pleasure out of it. It may take a few tries until you get out of that mental spiral telling you that you’ll fail. It really depends on you and your anxiety about the situation.

At the same time, I’m not going to be some asshole who tells you “intercourse isn’t everything, you can just use your hands and mouth to please your partner” when deep down we know that you want to be able to get hard and use it. Although they’re right (about using your hands and mouth), we all know you’re really here to learn how you can make a breakthrough to get an erection when you’ve gone limp with your new date.

man optimistic about his erections

This is why I suggest being optimistic about it and telling you to focus on the moment with them and their orgasm first until you’re more relaxed and ready. And if the situations we mentioned earlier that cause short term/temporary ED STILL get in the way ( too drunk, too tired, or are on drugs, etc.) after you guys had “talked”, then consider it as a last option to hold off on sex until you’re sober enough and in the right state of mind.

And, don’t take it as a sign of weakness or that you’re not good enough. We men need to feel secure and safe during sex too. But, if at first, you don’t succeed. Talk about what happens if it happens again.

Talk about what to do if it happens again

Yes, it can happen again with the same person or with someone else. It’s important to recognize that this can happen because something might not have been addressed the first time around or you’re still stuck in a labyrinth of a maze you call your “head”.

If you keep talking about it, you’re helping to normalize the situation and reduce shame. At the same time, you’re equipping this partner with valuable knowledge/experience (you as well) about what to do when a man doesn’t get hard. Male or female, it doesn’t matter. This is good to take with your partner into future relationships so they can help destroy the stigma that men are supposed to automatically be hard for sex (NOT TRUE AT ALL!)

Now, if it happens again with the same partner or with someone new, you might still be harboring some self-doubt and not conveying it to the partner you’re with. Take actionable steps to realize what’s causing this situational ED. If it’s one that we mentioned earlier, then address it.

Maybe you guys need more foreplay (for you) for you to relax without any distractions. A backrub is a perfect example as this tends to activate the parasympathetic nervous system to relax.

Normalizing that this can happen to men as a whole will help ease the situation by not making it a problem for “in the moment”, but rather something that can be worked on together.

couple on a date talking about ED problems

Closing thoughts, My Date Showed Up, And "Getting it Up"!

People who have the best sex are the ones that are secure enough with themselves, to be honest with their partners and to be able to receive constructive feedback. If you both can handle the situation as mature adults, then you will be able to handle all sorts of other situations as well.

I always say, that if you have sex with anyone that it should be because you both are mature, and if a problem like this arises it shouldn’t be an issue. Since we're adults here, let’s continue to talk about it.

Now, I know we only addressed guys dating new partners and situational factors that can cause "getting it up" harder, but there are physical health causes that lead to these types of issues (and other factors) that guys should be aware of too.

If you have a problem "getting it up" more than half of the time you have sex (even after you addressed them with your partner or a new partner verbally) then there might be a health issue involved. It’s always best to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor or medical professional for any health conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, etc. as vascular conditions usually lead to blood flow problems to the penis.

the phoenix acoustic wave device

The Phoenix acoustic wave device was designed to make it easier for men to "get it up" and enjoy sex once again. By using the Phoenix and making healthier lifestyle changes, you can improve the body as a whole and take full control of your sex life.

I know we also didn’t fully talk about porn, excessive masturbation, diet, a lack of exercise, and other lifestyle factors, but to move forward, you should always keep in mind that your lifestyle can also contribute to issues "getting it up".

BDEStyle is your go-to resource guide on sexual performance, erectile dysfunction, and sexual health. We are advocates for helping you improve in and out of the bedroom. We invite you to join our BDE tribe and to keep reading our posts and sharing them with others. Thank you for always listening!


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