Many a client comes in alone and states, “My wife (husband, partner) told me this is my problem and I have to come and get fixed.” I always sigh (on the inside), knowing that every sexual concern is couched in the context of the relationship and at some point, both partners must work together to get information, repair damage caused by experiencing unexpected issues, and learn to create or re-create a positive, fun, connected sex life.
I also guess that the person now sitting in my office has suffered any combination of hurt, embarassment, guilt, shame, low self esteem, as well as anger and resentment towards their partner whether or not they can admit to that. Lets focus this discussion on erectile dysfunction – although many sexual problems experienced by both women and men can cause serious relationship upset, thanks to advertisements for vasodilators, erectile dysfunction is now a household term.
If the problem is erectile dysfunction (or rapid ejaculation, or less heard of delayed ejaculation), for a man to be told “go get fixed” then you can approach me for sex! causes additional emotional and physical impairment. In our culture (and some others) men are measured by their sexual prowess and performance. We are unfortunately mis-informed that all men think about sex every five minutes, and get a hard-on at the very sight of any woman, at any time, under any circumstances. As a culture, we define having sex as having intercourse, which is of course not possible if the man involved does not have a lasting erection. What pressure!!!!
The woman who tells her man to “go get fixed” is suffering herself – from a belief in these myths about men and sex perpetuated in our society. How unfortunate that we allow girls to believe that a man’s hard on is a direct reflection of his love for her, and that if he does not have an instant, lasting erection every single time she or they think one should appear – several painful and confusing thoughts and feelings result. I’ve heard it all: “He doesn’t love me; he loves someone else; he’s actually gay; he’s not attracted to me; he’s having an affair; it must be a medical problem because its certainly not about ME!…” and more.
Please rest assured people! Contrary to popular belief, the man’s penis IS connected to his brain and his emotions! Men do need to feel connected and safe in order to be sexually responsive and ready. For some men at certain ages, that happens more automatically than for other men, young or old. Variation in the number, quality, and duration of erections IS NORMAL. Period.
If you’re a women who has only experienced guys that get big hard ons every time they see you or have a sexual thought in their head – you are lucky, if that’s what you want! But you do not represent the entire population.
If your partner does not experience consistent or persistent physical arousal, it is not just their problem. Guess what? That’s your penis now too! and you have an effect on how your partner feels, and responds physically. This does NOT mean that your fears are true, that you are no longer attractive! It means you are involved with a great guy! Who is sensitive enough to care about how things feel and how connected the two of you are, before he can get that erection sometimes! Thats a good thing!
Many men who are sensitive to the connectedness factor respond with loss of erection more easily when they feel anxiety, and they may not be clear that it’s anxiety they are experiencing. They may have a history of being shy, and/or a low level of sexual experience in their lifetime. This is not their fault! It’s also partly why you love them! Because these men also tend to be compassionate and less egotistical. This is an opportunity for you, as the woman, to develop those same qualities yourself – toward your partner!
When the erection doesn’t appear on your cue, or it comes and goes during sex, DONT PANIC! BE KIND!!! The worst thing you can do is blame him, insult him, make him feel bad about it, or to feel bad about it yourself. Whether or not you like it – it’s normal.
The best thing you can do is be understanding, and don’t quit the session – change focus and activities. Go back to other sexual activities, or resume sensual, relaxing touching and kissing. Give it a break, and a minute; reconnect and restimulate! The penis does not have to be the main focus in sex, and intercourse is not the entire definition! If it is for you, you are really missing out, and I recommend reading, experimenting – expand your ideas, feelings, thoughts, and activities with regard to sex.
It’s always important to rule out medical issues, yes there are some that can hamper erectile function. So the first stop may be with a physician. There are, however, relatively few possible medical causes for ED (overweight is one of them, sorry!).
Many things can interfere with spontaneous sexual desire, response, and enjoyment including individual personal problems and unresolved relationship issues. It’s reasonable to try and solve problems together, on your own, but don’t go on and on without help if the problems do not get resolved, and stay resolved. Most people need help at some point and those who go get it are far more likely to have lasting, happy relationships. Unaddressed sexual problems are one of the top reasons for divorce.
If or when you feel there’s a need for professional help with erectile issues, support your partner – support your local penis!!! Go with him to the sex therapist and/or physician. This issue is no one’s fault. Not his, not hers. He may have certain work to do, but your report as his partner about problems is important to the physician and therapist – the woman’s point of view ( so to speak, regardless of gender). You need help as a couple: get information, support each other, and learn together how to have a more expanded and relaxed approach to sex.
Remember that any issue either partner experiences with sexuality effects both partners and the couple as a whole. Be supportive, seek information, and work together. That in itself will help your relationship and your sex life!
You won’t be the only ones who need help being more relaxed and connected. Most Americans do!
“…so come along and join in the fantastic voyage…”