Uncomfortable Discussions

First off, guys, I’m not going to be talking about menstruation here, so don’t just walk away feeling icky. I know, you don’t want to hear about that stuff…but, if you are a father to a daughter, you may want to get over that particular subject avoidance – they need your support just as much as your sons do during puberty.

But I am going to discuss a subject that most men don’t like to talk about: Erectile dysfunction and impotence.

Trust me, guys. We get it. You don’t want to talk about it. You barely want to discuss it with a doctor, let alone to your partner(s).

But, we NEED to talk about it.

We need to talk about it, because while it impacts you primarily, it also impacts your partner(s). I don’t know how much or how little it affects a homosexual partner (not being another man), but I can tell you that it has a huge emotional impact on your heterosexual partner(s).

Why? Because the supposed common wisdom relating to this issue places the fault for impotence directly on your partner. And, regrettably, many men actually actively ENCOURAGE this misconception.

This is, again, another situation in which our currently screwed up focus on sex makes both genders miserable.

From a clinical standpoint, there are MANY factors that could (and do) cause impotence. Mental health, emotional health, physical health – these are all factors.

In my case, ONE instance of impotence led to over a decade of not only celibacy for me, but a constant blame for the issue being placed firmly on my shoulders. My ex lost his erection exactly once with me, and stormed out of the bedroom enraged. No discussion, no interaction, just immediate rage.

And, of course, I immediately blamed myself for it. And cried myself to sleep. That happened in 2000. The next time I had sex with my ex (in 2013), it was at the behest of my therapist – and ended up being aborted early because there was no foreplay, and I got dry (making the sex painful). And it happened only after a YEAR of asking him to join me in the assignment my therapist gave me. I had to BEG him to take this step to heal our sexual dysfunction.

Since then, the ONLY time I’ve gotten dry is when the sex lasts far longer than my body is able to take. And that is a rarity.

Ladies, if this happens to your partner, it is NOT your fault. If he tries to make it your fault, walk away from him. But a GOOD partner will not blame you for it. A GOOD partner will admit it is something inside him.

In fact, most men know it is an issue inside themselves. And, just like we women need support and reassurance when stuff goes wrong in our own bodies, our men need support and reassurance when this happens to them.

As I get older, this issue pops up more. It doesn’t matter if the reasons for it are mental, stress or physical. It just happens. And blaming ourselves for it actually harms the man to whom it is happening. It’s NOT about us, ladies. And if you try to make it all about you, you are ignoring the fact that your partner has a need.

When/if it happens to a man who is with me, at this point I try to focus on my partner, and try to give him what he needs from me. Of course, this requires he actually communicate his need.  If he needs to be left alone, that’s what I need to give him.

It’s probably best to discuss this subject OUTSIDE of the bedroom.  Sexual frustration does not exactly make for a reasonable, understanding discussion.  Again, it’s NOT about blame.  It’s about doing what you can to ensure that open, honest communication is happening.

The men in your life have needs.  Relationships are NOT just about you and your satisfaction.

Categories: Gender Inequities, Mental Retraining, Relationships, Sexual Positivity | Tags: , , , , | 9 Comments

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9 thoughts on “Uncomfortable Discussions

  1. it may be difficult not to blame yourself if he manages to have sex successfully with someone else, just not with you …

    • When it comes to non-monogamy, there are never any easy answers. But I have had this discussion recently with someone. It is something I’ve seen again and again. But, the thing is, just as with “new relationship energy” (NRE), there is a resurgence of all of those chemical interactions in the body – and therefore the lust for the new overcomes whatever issues the man may have that cause the ED.

      What I have noticed in the non-monogamous men around me who have this particular issue is that the more emotionally intimate he is with someone, the more likely the ED will strike. I’m not sure (as I am not in a man’s head) whether it is a fear of losing himself in the emotional intimacy or a relaxing of boundaries at realizing he can be vulnerable to a woman in his life. I know with my ex-husband, it was the first. Any emotional intimacy made him run for the hills. But with some of the other men in my life, I don’t see that. I see a willingness to be emotionally intimate, and a willingness to be vulnerable.

      It’s a very difficult emotional situation. There is never only one cause, and never only one solution. BUT, it requires a few things:

      1. The non-ED partner to NOT take the issue personally.
      2. The ED partner NOT to blame the non-ED partner
      3. Both partners committed to open, honest discussions
  2. We only have anecdotes right now (Unless one of us can produce evidence most men blame women/themselves for it). In my experience, I never blamed my ex. What happened was that she could still enjoys and reach orgasm while I didn’t. When she finally gathered enough confidence, she dumped the ol’ Chevy for a Ferrari.

    I don’t expect such empathy from people in my country. Getting a guy is too easy here, so erectile dysfunction is the sort of thing that sends you to the trash bin with the label ‘useless’.

    I do appreciate this post and its attempts to expose us men at our weakest. I’m not afraid of showing weakness myself (I’ve already been cast out). I just wonder though. You can accept a man who’s sometimes weak, but can you love him?

    What a harsh country I live in.

    • Actually, there are quite a few psychological articles out there on the impact of erectile dysfunction (ED) on relationships, and how it affects both individuals in the relationship.

      And you can find many different studies on it using Google Scholar.

      Sadly, it doesn’t matter what country you live in, many men view it as being quite easy to “replace the man” in the relationship. Having not lived in Israel, but knowing many people who do, women in your country find it just as hard as men do to find a good, healthy relationship.

      But the point of the post was NOT to ‘expose men at your weakest’. It was to point out to women that ED is NOT about us. It was to remind women that men are human too, with human needs and human failings. And, it was meant to point out to men that women are not always the enemy in such issues.

      Every human being has weaknesses. Not a single person living on this planet is completely weakness-free. One of the things a good, healthy relationship ought to give (monogamous or not) is a supportive space for either person in the relationship to be vulnerable and weak at times. Too many people in too many relationships don’t trust their partners with their vulnerabilities (a struggle I live every day). And, unfortunately for a lot of people, the ONLY way to get past that is to have open, honest and supportive communication between partners. Not every person in the world is capable of doing that.

      I’ve been in a similar space. I’ve had the female version of this. And I’ve tried to keep it to myself, to blame myself for it rather than anyone else. It took major surgery relating to my reproductive system to shake me out of that particular mindset. I don’t know if there is a similar surgery that men experience that cause such a major change in one’s psychology. I was warned that a hysterectomy could radically change my personality, but I ignored it until it actually happened.

      I wish there were an “easy fix” for ED. I have a number of men in my life who experience it. But, I’ve realized that all I can do is be there if he’s willing to talk, and make sure I am NOT blaming myself for this issue (as that would make the problem about me, and you cannot be supportive if you think you are the cause/to blame/at fault – ignoring the real need of my partner).

      And in answer to your particular question, YES, I can love a man when he is weak, not just when he is strong. I don’t love the strength, I love the man.

      • Women don’t find it that hard to find a man. Finding a quality person is hard either way, but they get plenty of sexual approval (I wouldn’t even mention the IDF, which is awfully misandrist). Pretty much every girl I knew replaced her boyfriend quickly.

        I agree on the whole ‘women are not the enemy’ part.

        “Too many people in too many relationships don’t trust their partners with their vulnerabilities (a struggle I live every day).” – But why is it a part of the relationship? I’ve seen sexy people going with sexy people. I see little variety or deviation. It’s probably just Israel’s dating culture. It’s about strength, not about weakness.

        I don’t care about an easy fix for ED, myself. I was discarded by the Sexual Society and that’s fine. A human is more than his sexual attraction. No one is worth the pains it gets to be accepted there.

        We have a huge cultural difference, then. Any revelation of weakness here is a death sentence.

      • I’m not familiar with IDF, but I Googled it – and realized it was the Israeli Army. I personally believe that at the current time all of the world’s militaries are quite dysfunctional. Now, from a psychological position, they have to be to a certain extent. You cannot function in the way that is necessary as a soldier without having a very narrow, goal-oriented, non-emotional mindset. At least, you can’t and stay sane while you do the things required of you. And given that citizenship in Israel is based upon military service, it is not surprising to me that there is a continuation of that same mindset in civilian life.

        Even here in the U.S. we seem to have trouble with supporting our soldiers as they return to civilian life. Most of the population here doesn’t even think about how a soldier must have a completely alien mindset to the actual average American in order to stay sane in our Armed Forces. I do, but that may only be because I’ve now had quite a few members of the Armed Forces in my life (starting with my father – and I believe that his stint in the Army only calcified the emotional unavailability he already had from living with my grandmother). One of the WORST parts of it is the feelings of guilt many soldiers have over things they may have been forced to do, which gets encouraged far too much by civilians they trust with those vulnerabilities. Too many civilians believe that they have the right and the entitlement to be an armchair moralist, and judge the soldier by their own particular moral bias. I don’t believe I have a right to judge the actions of a soldier in battle. I was NOT there, I was not forced to make the decisions they were. I have to believe that they made the best choice possible in a very difficult situation. Do they sometimes fuck up? Yes. It’s just that a civilian has NEVER been in that position, and has no real ability to judge it.

        Oh, I’m sure that people often replace their boyfriends/girlfriends quite often. As a global society, we have started to believe that relationships are like playing with Legos® – that each person in a relationship is easily exchanged for another. That doesn’t mean that they are in real, healthy relationships. In fact, they are not in a relationship at all, only masturbating with someone else’s body. But that shouldn’t be what we strive for. We want connections, but we refuse to make real ones because we’re afraid.

        Society seems to want to show that relationships are clear cut. That love is truly a fairy tale, and everyone lives happily ever after. That all men are Prince Charmings, and all women are damsels-in-a-dress. That heros always succeed, and always get their love. But if anyone ever READS the damned fairy tales, they will see that every single person in them has to work DAMNED hard and get emotionally destroyed before they get anywhere. And no one wants to work that hard, or get that emotionally destroyed in order to find happiness.

      • I don’t mind the military discipline. It’s a blessing. It’s way healthier than anything love can offer. It teaches you to act rather than seek approval.
        My problem was this: Women did 2 years while I did 3. I washed dishes alone while everyone helped them in kitchen duties. No one stayed with me during night shifts and I had a small social life, all this because I was born a male. Everyone in my unit (or other units) describes this. The IDF has man in power, but beyond that it treats the females like crazy.

        The mindset that people can be replaced is something I find in mostly attractive people who have no problem attracting another. Power gets you drunk.

        I’m not sure if their relationship is unhealthy. If both of them are sexy, have crazy sex and get along what there is more to it? Since when was romantic love about more than choosing the best genes?

        Connections are for friends.

      • The discipline is fine, it’s the interpersonal interaction outside of the military milieu that becomes a challenge – particularly if not everyone in a country is forced into military service.

        Self-validation doesn’t come just from military service. And, sadly, not all soldiers learn self-validation from their service. A responsible adult should learn self-validation, but for many (military or not) they never quite get there – at least not until the Universe has to smack them upside the head with a solid steel I-beam (some of us take a bit more than the Universe’s 2×4). It’s not just self-confidence, but the ability to stand up for one’s core self unashamedly.

        As for women in military service, I am of the strong opinion that a woman should be expected to serve equally. Now, with some strength-based situations, the standards don’t need to be lowered, but a change in the training to efficiently work the body of a woman versus the training to efficiently work the body of a man should be developed. It’s not impossible for a woman to train her body to the same strength as a man, but it does require some different muscle training than a man. That way, there is still the ability to trust the person next to you regardless of gender will be able to carry their part of the mission. In fact, there are some things a woman may be better at than a man, just like there are things a man is better at. I know endurance levels between the genders are different.

        I don’t look at the world as sexy people vs ugly people. Maybe it’s just my artistic eye, but I can see beauty in almost anyone (except for shallow, cruel personalities – that usually puts someone directly in the ugly category, regardless of their aesthetic attractiveness).

        Myself during CONvergence 2014Many people would say that I, because of my size, am ugly as sin. Thing is, I don’t really come across many of those kinds of people anymore. I don’t have a whole lot of problem attracting someone else (and yes, even though I am straight, I still do attract lesbians, bisexual women, and men). But, I’ve also learned from my broken marriage. I’m not going to settle anymore for less than a full partner in a relationship – no more “fix-er-uppers.” I’m not saying that a man can’t be broken, just that he must be willing to a) work on his own brokenness; and b) be able to keep up his half of the relationship.

        There’s SO MUCH more to a relationship than just crazy sex, good looks and supposedly getting along. Sex is great, don’t get me wrong. But if the sex and the physical attractiveness is the only thing a couple has going for them, the relationship is inevitably doomed. People don’t always “get along” in a long-term relationship. In fact, there may be times in a relationship that while you still love them, you don’t like them very much. Watching my parents’ 55 year marriage has taught me a whole lot about keeping a marriage alive – but it requires full commitment from both individuals.

        If romantic love is only about choosing the best genes, then how in the hell do LGBTQ people end up falling in love and having deep, committed relationships? Reproduction is NOT the only reason for a marriage. In fact, if reproduction was the only reason for being married, my husband would have divorced me as soon as it became obvious that we would not have children. In fact, he didn’t want the divorce when I did ask him for it. He didn’t want the divorce until after I told him I would no longer submit to his abuse – at which point I became Evil Incarnate.

        Your spouse, or your long-term relationship should be as much of a friend as they are a lover. Without that emotional intimacy, you don’t actually have a relationship. All you really have is sex.

      • Things I forgot in my previous reply. Relationships are hard, no matter where they are. Real love, real relationships must be based on trust, understanding, and commitment. You can’t have a relationship without those things. And if you cannot trust your vulnerabilities to your partner, why in the hell are you in that relationship in the first place? THAT is one of those relationship truths I learned with my ex. It was pretty obvious early on in the marriage that I couldn’t trust him with my weaknesses or vulnerabilities. But, instead of taking that as the warning sign it was, I stuck to him. It took me destroying myself before I learned that particular lesson.

        Understanding and commitment are ongoing things. You can only understand your partner(s) if they try to help you see their viewpoint, and if you try to help them see yours – preferably without attacking either one of you. And commitment is a daily choice, sometimes even an hourly or moment-by-moment one. But it has to be found in equal measures in both partners.

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