Sadly, there is an overwhelming number of both men and women in heterosexual relationships who think that erectile dysfunction is primarily an issue that comes from decreased desire in the man for the woman in the relationship. This, then, leads to insecurity (in both the men experiencing it, and the woman they are with), which inevitably leads into arguments and worse.
In fact, it was one of the reasons I was celibate for 12 years of my marriage. Because my ex lives in a constant state of stress due to his mental illness, it is not surprising that he started experiencing it at a fairly young age. The bad part of it is that he blamed me for the impotence, and I sadly took the responsibility for it.
By age 40, 5% of the male population experiences ED, and it only goes up to 17% (thankfully for those of us women who are peaking in their sexual desire in their 40s). But it’s not just getting older that causes it.
There are MANY different physiological and mental issues that lead to impotence. The one thing EVERY woman in a relationship with a man who experiences ED needs to remember is that the ED does NOT mean that the man doesn’t desire you.
I had known this intellectually before I was married, and I still ended up taking responsibility for my ex’s impotence. After I left, it only took ONE emotionally fraught discussion to remind me of this truth. Ladies, it is NOT about you, and frankly claiming that it is your fault is a very self-absorbed way to look at the world.
I’ve now been with quite a few men with ED since leaving my ex. And, making sure am aware of what is going on in the man’s life means I can be emotionally supportive of the man in question, rather than playing the blame game with it.
Not only is it embarrassing for many men who experience it, it also makes them question their own emotional and mental state. And just like a woman in the throes of emotional turmoil and hormonal hell because of her period, these men are experiencing quite a number of different emotions, most of them very negative and very painful.
If you expect him to understand your turmoil, how can you not take the time and energy to try to understand HIS turmoil? Men aren’t robots, they can’t just turn the penis on and get going — no matter what kind of myths there are in our culture about men and sex. They aren’t in a constant state of arousal any more than we women are. And sometimes, life gets in the way of the desire to be intimate.
Women have all sorts of reasons for why they might not want to be intimate, why can’t we understand that men have their own reasons as well?
It’s these cultural myths that we keep banging up against. And we’re just hurting ourselves and our partners when we don’t try to overcome the cultural conditioning.
I’m not saying relationships are easy. But, trying to understand our partner’s challenges and communicating well so that they can understand our own are two of the most IMPORTANT of relationship skills.