Help for Pedophiles: Why Can’t I Ejaculate During Sex With Other Adults?

I am currently reading your book on Recovering from Pedophilia. I am unable to cum during intercourse with a woman or a man, and would be interested to know what you might consider to be the cause. I am 56.

My advice to you is going to be based on two assumptions. First, I’m assuming that you are male, based on the code name you chose (which I am shortening to protect your privacy). Second, I’m assuming that you are able to achieve and maintain an erection without the aid of drugs or devices.

The subconscious part of your mind has a very powerful influence over your body. This means that your subconscious ultimately controls when you can achieve an erection, how well you can maintain it, and when you can ejaculate. Your subconscious also has the power to significantly alter your natural sex drive.

Now in your case, we see two significant alterations to your normal sex drive. We see an attraction to kids (pedophilia), and an attraction to male adults being added to the normal attraction to female adults (bisexuality). These kinds of alterations always indicate severe subconscious distress.

Now once your subconscious becomes agitated enough to alter your sex drive like this, it’s motivations for pushing you to have sex become altered as well. As a man, your body has a physiological need for sexual release, so under normal circumstances, your body views sex as a positive way to relieve physiological tension. Under normal circumstances, your subconscious will also view sex positively, seeing it as an opportunity to both help your body relieve stress and experience joyful, emotional intimacy with your partner. It’s important to realize that that last goal will only be achieved in a monogamous relationship with someone who you feel safe with and who you view as being deeply committed to you. Mutual commitment and trust are the foundation for a satisfying intimate relationship, and that foundation must be in place before the positive psychological benefits of healthy sex can be experienced (see Getting Legally Married: Is It Worth It?). When you’re told to “sew your oats” as a man, you’re being taught to ignore the psychological effects of sex and only focus on the physiological goals. This is lousy advice because sex always affects your mind as well as your body. Over time, having sex just for the goal of releasing physiological tension will cause you to form negative psychological associations with the general concept of sex, and those associations will make it hard for you to experience the psychological benefits of healthy sex.

I explained all of that because it helps to understand what normal, healthy sex even looks like before we talk about trauma-driven sex. In your case, the fact that your sex drive has been altered by your subconscious clearly indicates we are dealing with severe psychological trauma. Now there are many kinds of trauma, and they don’t all cause your mind to respond by altering your sex drive. In cases of pedophilia, minds only react like this when they feel there is a strong logical connection between a scary thing that happened to you in the past and the general concept of sex. In cases of bisexuality, minds can alter the sex drive for broader range of reasons. But when we see pedophilia and bisexuality surfacing at the same time, we should consider pedophilia to be the more significant issue.

In pedophilia, you experience your mind obsessing about two key issues: young kids and kids being sexually interacted with. The kid thing is happening because your mind is obsessing over the issue of age–usually your own age at the time that a traumatic event happened to you. Even though the kids that you find your mind fantasizing about don’t look like you, to your mind, those kids are symbols of yourself when you were a kid. The reason your mind obsesses over kids being sexually interacted with is because it feels that you were interacted with in some sexual way when you were a kid.

Now here we need to be cautious about leaping to assumptions about what specific negative events might have happened to you in the past. An adult defines a sexual interaction much more narrowly than a child does. For children, any activity which both distresses you and involves anyone’s sexual organs (either directly or indirectly) can be psychologically interpreted as form of sexual assault. This can include someone touching your privates or the area around your privates for any reason (including a standard medical exam). This can also include someone forcing you to touch their privates or the area around their privates. This can also include you feeling forced to expose your private areas when you wanted to keep them covered.

Because your subconscious is actively monitoring what happens to you from the day you are born, if someone interacts with your body when you are just an infant in a way that causes your mind to feel alarmed, that event can cause severe trauma, which can then result in pedophilia. The age range of children who sexually trigger you today provides an important clue as to when your own traumatic experience likely occurred. But it’s also helpful to realize that the longer this kind of stress goes untreated, the broader the age range of child triggers becomes. Since you are in your 50s, I would expect that your mind’s sensitivity to children has increased over time, therefore I’d expect you to feel triggered by a broader range of children today than you did back when you were in your 20s. This increased sensitivity to children is a natural result of core stresses being left to fester and worsen over time. It’s similar to how a small infected wound on your arm will grow more painful and larger in size if it is left untreated. For humans, unresolved pain in any element of their beings (mind, body or soul) gets worse over time, not better. But just as you can treat a wound that has been festering for a long time, you can treat pedophilia even after it’s been left untreated for decades. So there is always hope.

Now what makes the suffering of pedophiles so horrific is that they are usually tormented by the memory of someone sexually assaulting them before they reached puberty.  It is immensely confusing and upsetting for someone to mess with us in sexual ways before our sex drives have even had the chance to fully activate.  When young children go through these kinds of experiences, their minds go into a desperate panic.  Without enough life experience to understand what sex even is, children are forced to try and sort out for themselves what on earth happened to them and why it happened.  Often in these cases, children feel there is no one in their lives who they can safely go to for help in these matters, so they either try to entirely suppress the memory of what they experienced, or they find themselves constantly reviewing it in the privacy of their own minds.  In either situation, it is very natural for an obsession with sexual activities to surface, typically causing kids to become addicted to masturbating at a very young age and/or pursuing chances to sexually interact with other kids long before they even understand what sex is.  If left unresolved, these mental obsessions continue into adulthood as the mind continues its efforts to try to make sense out of what happened and find a way to defend against it happening again in the future.  Because there is so much terror and confusion associated with the idea of sexual interactions, adult pedophiles find it very distressing to sexually interact with anyone, including their adult peers. 

Once your mind links sexual activities with the concept of danger, then every attempt you make to have sex with an adult will be seen by your mind as both threatening and a chance to analyze what happened to you in the past.  Since your subconscious wants to keep you safe, it becomes very agitated whenever it feels you are in a dangerous situation. Since sex is currently being categorized as a dangerous activity by your mind today, you are not going to be able to feel calm and relaxed during sexual intercourse.  Instead, you are going to feel internally tense, on guard, and agitated. 

For you, sex is a threatening situation right now, so expecting your mind to be comfortable with you having sex with other adults is unreasonable.  But your mind is also desperate to resolve its distress over what happened to you when you were younger (the traumatic event or events which initially triggered the pedophilia).  This causes your mind to feel torn between two different priorities: it wants to protect you right now, but it also wants to protect you in the future.  Your mind understands that sometimes it has to risk your safety right now in order to identify ways to improve its defenses in the future. 

Since childhood sexual traumas cause minds to feel that their current defenses failed in some critical way, they feel a strong need to analyze the original trauma for clues about why their defenses were breached and how they can improve those defenses in the future.  One very common way that minds try to conduct these tactical analyses is to push you to participate in symbolic re-enactments of what originally happened to you.

The specific sexual fantasies about kids that your mind tries to run in your head today are symbolic reenactments of things that happened to you in real life.  Because your mind is using heavily symbolic imagery in these fantasies, and because it is usually hyper-focused on a few specific details of the original trauma, those fantasies can often seem unrelated to you at first glance. As those short films play out, you often won’t recognize any of the people in them, nor will you feel that the activities going on are an exact match to any of your real-life memories.  But regardless of your inability to instantly decode the symbols your mind is using, those fantasies are not just a collection of random images—they are extremely meaningful, highly symbolic films which your mind considers to be very creative reenactments of things that actually happened to you.  The reason it wants to run those films over and over again is that it keeps feeling like it is missing something. It’s rather like how you’ll keep rereading a set of instructions that aren’t making sense to you.  You keep reading the same words over and over, waiting for that “aha” moment to happen so you can gain a clear understanding of what you need to do.  In the same way, your mind will keep creating and running symbolic reenactments of traumatic events that happened to you in the past until it feels it has an “aha” moment about why those things happened and how it can protect you better if those things happen again in the future.

Now once your subconscious feels very threatened by sex, it will become very guarded about when it cooperates with your attempts to have any kind of intercourse in real life.  Your mind will not want you to put yourself in the line of danger unless there is some potential benefit. Based on your current behaviors, it sounds to me like the only kind of benefit your mind is associated with sex right now is an opportunity to once again reenact what happened to you in the past so it can try to work on better defenses.  Once reenactment of the original trauma is the only goal your mind is interested in, it will only sign off on you having sex with partners who it feels are good symbolic matches to the people involved in your original trauma. For example, if in real life you were molested by a male adult when you were a child, then today your mind might push you to attempt sex with adult males who feel like good symbolic matches of your original molester.  If your subconscious is blocking access to your original trauma memories (which is very common in these cases), then your conscious and your soul will not understand why you find yourself feeling sexually attracted to a specific male adult.  In this kind of situation, your soul will become very distressed by what you’re doing if it feels that your desire to sleep with a same-sex partner is morally wrong. If instead your soul does not have a moral problem with you sleeping with a man, and if it wants the encounter to go well, then it will want you to please that man with your behavior during the intercourse.  In other words, it will want you to have a steady erection and to achieve ejaculation, not feel embarrassed by either function not happening smoothly.  At the same time, your body will also want to experience ejaculation so it can release physiological tension.  Your conscious will take a position of simply wanting your other elements to be happy, so if it senses that both your body and soul want the evening to go well, your conscious will want it to go well also.  The problem here is that none of these elements have the final say about what you will be able to physiologically do.  Your subconscious is the real powerhouse in these situations, and its opinion about what is happening will drastically affect how the evening goes. 

In a situation like yours, the fact that you’re not able to ejaculate strongly indicates that your subconscious doesn’t like something that is going on in these sexual encounters.  Remember that your mind currently feels threatened by sex, and its top priority is to protect you.

Changing Agendas

Let’s run through a scenario that commonly happens to someone with your kind of psychological stress load. You’re going along in life when suddenly your subconscious identifies someone who it feels could be a good candidate for helping it run one of its strategic reenactments of your childhood trauma.  Because understanding what went wrong in the past is a very important priority to your mind right now, it will push you very strongly to set up a sexual interaction with the person it has locked onto.  But once you actually meet up with the person and things start getting hands-on, there are a million things that can go wrong.  One wrong move on the part of your partner or one small detail in your general environment can suddenly cause your subconscious to decide that the whole arrangement is a bad idea.  When this happens, it will abandon its goal of trying to perform some kind of reenactment of the past and it will switch into full protective mode.  Once it changes gears like this, its primary concern will be to get you out of that situation as fast as possible with the least amount of injury.

I know this is getting complicated, so great job tracking with me so far.  As you can see, there is a lot going on in the background in these situations.  I could just give you a simple answer of “you’re not able to cum because your mind is overriding your body,” but I want you to understand why your mind is blocking you like this and why you are able to achieve an erection in the first place.  In sexual traumas, our body’s responses can be very confusing, simultaneously seeming to want and not want the same thing.  But there are always logical reasons for the contradictory symptoms, and understanding the logic is important when you want to help your mind recover.

So now we have you in the middle of trying to have sex with an adult partner but the ejaculation just won’t happen. This is extremely awkward because without ejaculation, you lose that sense of forward momentum and now you and your partner are feeling awkwardly stalled.  Here is where it is especially challenging to be a man because there’s no way for you to fake an orgasm when everyone can see what isn’t happening.  I have immense sympathy for the extra stress that the anatomical positioning of male privates causes, especially in cases of sexual trauma.  The key point I want you to understand is that you’re not malfunctioning here, and this isn’t some kind of flaw that you should feel embarrassed about.  On the contrary, this kind of block is a strategic effort on the part of your mind to protect you. Instead of viewing this like some flaw in your manhood, you should see it as evidence of how powerful your subconscious is and how devoted it is to your personal welfare.  Your subconscious is always trying to act in your best interests, so if you’ve been berating yourself for these embarrassing moments, stop it. Mocking your mind’s efforts to help you is extremely counter-productive. 

Now in the kind of scenario I’m describing here, it would be very logical and strategic for your mind to kill your erection as well.  When your penis functions normally during private masturbation, but you find yourself unable to maintain an erection during intercourse with another person, that is a strong indication that your subconscious is trying to protect you by overriding your body’s functions.  Since a lack of erection makes certain kinds of intercourse impossible to perform, when your mind suddenly kills your erection right when things are heating up, you should respect that interference as a sign that your mind is feeling threatened by something that is happening.  The smart way to respond in these situations is to immediately stop, put space between you and your partner (enough so that no body parts are touching), and take a moment to just breathe and let your mind calm down.  You should also immediately cover your privates, using a sheet or pants or whatever is available.  You should also cover any other part of your body that is feeling overexposed (such as your chest or thighs).  The sooner your mind regains a sense of control over your immediate space, the faster it will calm down and possibly explain to you what exactly it is feeling threatened by.  If it identifies a specific threat, you have an opportunity to try to eliminate that threat by explaining to your partner that you don’t want to touch them or be touched by them in a certain way.  If your mind does not specify what is bothering it and instead you just sit there feeling intensely agitated, then you should explain to your partner that your plans aren’t going to happen and get out of there.  Forcing your mind to remain in a situation that it feels intensely threatened by is only going to make things worse.

But now let’s suppose you are able to maintain an erection, but you just can’t cum.  What’s happening here?  There are a several possibilities that we need to consider.

Core Temperaments

Once your mind goes on red alert and feels threatened by your situation, its automatic emergency response will kick in.  Depending on what your mind’s core temperament is, there are two different kinds of responses that your mind might default to.  If your mind has a passive temperament, then it will instinctively try to deal with threatening situations by cooperating and placating.  For example, suppose you are trying to have sex with a man who does something that makes your mind go on red alert.  Now your mind wants to get you away from that man as soon as possible, but it also wants protect you from being injured.  Passive minds feel that it is much wiser to pacify enemies than it is to challenge them.  So if your partner wants you to give him anal sex, for example, then your mind might try to placate him by forcing your body to maintain an erection.  The concern here will be that if your mind kills your erection, your partner might become angry and lash out at you. 

How threatened your mind feels by your partner depends on how it assesses his core temperament.  If your mind thinks your partner is an aggressive temperament, then it will be very motivated to placate him by giving him the kind of sex that he wants from you.  In this scenario, the erection your mind is forcing to happen is terror-based, and it is only being maintained for the purpose of placating your adversary.  The goal in this scenario is for you to wait until your partner seems satisfied, then leave as fast as possible.  Ejaculation will serve no purpose in this situation, so your mind will likely block it from happening, since allowing you to ejaculate will make it harder to regain an erection.  In this scenario, your mind will be focused solely on pleasing your adversary so that he won’t attack you.

Now if you are an aggressive temperament, then your mind can behave very differently.  Aggressive temperaments deal with stress by trying to intimidate their enemies into backing off. To do this, aggressive use dramatic bluffs in which they pretend to be more powerful and confident than they actually are.  Since ejaculating in the presence of another human can easily cause you to feel extra vulnerable, your mind could prevent this from happening as a way of maintaining a bluff that you feel more confident and calm than you actually do. 

When aggressive temperaments develop pedophilia, they are more likely to try to take a dominant position during sexual activities.  It is extremely distressful for an aggressive temperament to feel like he is being raped in some way, even if he signed up for it.  Receiving any kind of sexual interaction which distresses you feels like a form of rape.  In such a situation, your mind is going to go on red alert, and once again want to remove you from the situation as fast as possible.  It is going to be extremely guarded about you appearing weak in any way, and since a limp penis doesn’t exactly say “power,” your mind can easily feel threatened by that kind of visual being seen by your partner, so it can prevent ejaculation from happening.  Bear in mind that your culture has a major influence on the kinds of associations you make with your privates, especially when it comes to your penis.  Since men are often brainwashed into thinking that the “ideal” penis is some obnoxiously large and long protrusion, it’s easy to see how a mind that wants you to look powerful could feel that a fully erect penis is a much safer image to go with than a limp one, especially in a situation where your penis is being fully exposed to someone that your mind does not trust.  The key point I want you to grasp here is that there is always a deep strategy being used whenever your subconscious starts overriding your body.  

Stalled Reenactments

So far I’ve been talking about a scenario in which your subconscious initially wanted you to engage with a certain partner, only to then change its mind in the middle of things.  I now want to explain another type of situation that is common for guys like you.

In this second scenario, your mind locks onto a good symbolic target, and pushes you to arrange a meeting with them.  Once the two of you start physically interacting with each other, your mind decides that your partner is indeed a very useful prop for performing a symbolic re-enactment of your original trauma.  Instead of panicking and wanting you to get out of there, your mind now wants you to stay and engage with your partner in very specific ways.  In this kind of situation, you are likely to get a very strong and steady erection because your mind feels this experience could be very beneficial, so it is preparing you to engage with your partner in specific ways.  But a very important point to realize is that this kind of erection is not pleasure-driven, it is terror-driven.  Remember that your mind finds sex in general to be a very threatening subject, and it didn’t bring you here to have a good time; it brought you here to conduct important research.  In these cases, it is very important to your mind that you and your partner interact in some very specific ways.  Often you will feel a strong desire for them to touch you in very specific places, using specific kinds of motions.  Since your partner can’t read your mind and doesn’t realize that you’re looking for something very specific, they will not do a perfect job of working through your mind’s checklist for the evening.  When they do something that your mind wants, you’ll feel both aroused and distressed.  When they wander off script, you’ll feel impatient and frustrated. 

In this kind of situation, your mind finds your partner’s partial alignment with its desires intensely addictive.  But to achieve climax, your mind wants your partner to interact with you in a very specific way—typically a way that is a very close replay of some nasty thing that someone did to you as a child.  Until your partner nails this exact motion (and remember, they don’t know what you’re looking for and you’re probably not giving them any clear hints), your mind will block your ability to climax.  In this kind of scenario, the primary emotion tends to be frustration, not embarrassment.  To your mind, this kind of “close but not quite” reenactment is rather like when you try to scratch some itchy spot on your back that you can’t quite reach.  When you ask someone else to scratch your back for you, they keep scratching around the area instead of hitting it dead on.  As they get close to the key spot, you feel like you itch even more, and so you became frustrated and impatient for them to reach the right spot for you.  

Now the fact that you are currently attempting sex with both men and women suggests you do not have any steady partner right now.  It also suggests that your mind is very focused on trying to set up reenactments of your past traumas, but it is having trouble locating partners who are good symbolic fits.  Trying to get you to participate in trauma reenactments with real people instead of just fantasizing about such things indicates your mind’s stress load is feeling unmanageable—a very reasonable issue given how long you’ve been carrying around this stress.

Now the problem with attempting real life sexual encounters when your mind is afraid of sex is that regardless of how those encounters go, you will walk away feeling more stressed than you were before.  Given how stressed you already are, my advice to you would be to stop trying to hook up with real people and focus on masturbation instead.  When you masturbate and you allow your mind to run whatever fantasy it wants to run, your mind has a chance to vent some of its stress.  In cases of severe sexual trauma, having a productive way for your mind to vent stress is very important.  Since the kinds of encounters you’re currently pursuing are always going to add more stress than they vent, it is advisable to try to reduce them while you simultaneously give your mind new, more effective tools for venting stress. But realize that the masturbation thing is only going to be helpful if you let your mind think about what it wants to think about.  If your soul tries to block your mind from running its fantasies on the grounds of “that’s disgusting and wrong”, then your mind will not get the help it needs to lower its stress levels.  For a further discussion about this, scroll down to the section Tactics for Managing Stress in this post.

It’s fantastic that you’re reading my book, as it will help you gain a much better understanding of the root causes of your specific trauma symptoms.  Since the kinds of trauma that trigger pedophilia often result in a lot of confusion about how to manage healthy relationships with other humans, I would recommend that you work through my book What’s Wrong With My Relationships? as well.  Regaining a reasonable sense of control over what happens to you in life is often an important step in recovering from pedophilia since this condition is often triggered by invasive physical traumas that cause you to feel stripped of having any say over what happens to your own body.  The more confident your mind feels in its ability to keep abusers at bay and resolve conflicts before they turn into crises, the calmer it will become.

If your penis demonstrates normal functionality during masturbation and it’s only in the presence of other people that you find yourself unable to cum, you should view this as a reasonable and normal symptom of severe psychological trauma.  The good news is this kind of thing will automatically correct itself once your mind gets help with reducing its stress load.  In the meantime, trying to reduce how often you put yourself in situations that your mind feels threatened by while also giving it a productive way of venting its stress will help you in your recovery process.  

This post was written in response to P.