Women: you and he have to talk about his erection problem!
However, your partner is not likely to want to talk about the failure of his erection, much less answer questions on what treatment he intends to get.
To him, a problem with his erections – having erectile dysfunction – is a sign that he is less of a man, that his manhood has been taken away from him. You may have to start any discussion about the subject. And if you want to know if he’s doing something about it, you are definitely going to have to ask him directly – but in a gentle and caring way.
But because this is such a sensitive subject for him, if you want to know what he’s doing about his erection problem, make sure you follow a few simple rules:
Choose the right time to talk about erectile problems
One way of making it more likely that your discussion leads to his a commitment to do something about his erection problem is to set aside a time for the discussion in advance.
You can increase your chances of success by telling him that you would like to discuss an important subject, and mention it is to do with your sex life.
Do not, under any circumstances, bring up the subject of his loss of erection during an argument or when he is stressed. Do not bring it up if you are not going to have time to complete the discussion. Do not bring it up after or during sexual activity.
The key is not to mention the subject when is feeling threatened, perhaps by a sexual failure. This will only make him more defensive – and that is likely to promote an argument. Best to wait until he is in a calm and more relaxed frame of mind, when his erectile dysfunction is playing less on his self-image.
Bear in mind, however, that your judgment about what is “the right moment” may in the end be more important than anything else. For example, suppose that you are in a new relationship and there are sexual problems right away – like he can’t get an erection. It would hardly be appropriate not to mention this, as it will have a major bearing on the intimacy and success of your relationship; at least, if sex is to play a normal part in that relationship.
And there are certain skills you need to employ as well: many men have told me that their partner has said something to do them like “Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter.” Well, not having a proper erection matters a huge amount to your man. To hear you say this may well give your man not only a sense of loss and anger at his erectile problems, but an additional sense that you have not heard really him and you’re not supporting him.
Video – women and erectile dysfunction
Of course ED (erectile dysfunction) matters – and no attempt to make him feel better by telling him that it doesn’t, even said from a place of love and care, is likely to open the lines of communication between you.
First and foremost you have to acknowledge his feelings, and show him that you have some sense of how he may be feeling: “I understand how hard this is for you”. That’s the kind of remark that is most likely to be helpful. But, believe me, it has to be said from a place of sincerity: if it is not, it is more likely to make him frustrated or disconnected than anything else.
In addition, you need to be sincere about how you’re feeling on the subject of his erection problems. If you’re disappointed or sad, or angry, let him know. When you convey your feelings, don’t attack him personally: just tell him how you feel. Here’s some advice.
Next, you need to move on past the support and understanding that is conveyed by such communication. Move on, that is, to the future actions that you and he can take, either together or separately, to help resolve his erection problems. By the way, if he has any other sexual dysfunction, such as delayed ejaculation, you may wish to read this book all about why men may not orgasm during intercourse. (The UK version of this book on delayed ejaculation can be founds here.)
The style of communication you use when you talk about erection problems is crucial to the success of your discussion. A direct, straightforward style of communication is most likely to be constructive in resolving problems. It is not helpful to keep quiet, to be stoical. Nor is it useful to avoid the subject through fear that you will be putting pressure on your partner. And it will certainly create more challenges if you get emotional about the subject and let this lead you to statements such as “You don’t love me anymore!” or “Are you having an affair?”
It is possible that his erectile dysfunction may be making a man extremely defensive, so he may not respond to your feelings with as much care and compassion as he normally would. In which case, rather than feeling hurt, angry or defensive, you might try to stand in your power and state your case clearly and firmly. (If you haven’t read about the archetypal theory of personality, this might help. If you know something about standing in the energy of your Inner Queen, you may be able to access more power.)
You need to confront the problem of his erectile dysfunction directly. Don’t say “….but it doesn’t really matter if you don’t want to talk about it.” This is a matter for both of you, and you need to be assertive to make sure that you get what you want, which is your partner fully restored to sexual health and full erectile capacity.
This is of course all about letting your partner know that you care about him, and that you are willing to support him in his efforts to recover from his erectile problem. The skill of active listening is essential here.
This is about not just sitting there passively while your partner tells you what is going on for him! It is also about acknowledging by your responses and making interjections which show you are genuinely hearing what he is saying.
So tell him you love him, you want to hear his point of view, you want to support him, and you expect him to be supportive of you and work with you on restoring his normal sexual drive and ability.
Here are some clues that might help you identify what you are feeling:
- rejected, angry (Is this something to do with me?),
- depressed (I can’t cope with this),
- sexually frustrated (when am I ever going to have intercourse with him again?),
- anxious (will he ever be erect again?),
- suspicious (is he having an affair?),
- embarrassed (how can we ever talk about something so personal and so sensitive?)
Clearly it’s important that you reassure him that you are not blaming him, that you know it’s not his fault, and that you trust him to tell you if there is something you should know. (It is faintly possible that he is not getting erect with you because he doesn’t fancy you anymore. If he admits this, then your next step might be to arrange for some couples’ counseling as soon as possible.)
If you need to know what to ask him about his erectile dysfunction, here are some suggestions:
- What do you feel about this?
- How important is this to you?
- And if you’re starting out in a relationship:
- Is this a new problem?
- Can I help you do something about it?
- Have you always had the problem?
- You know loads of guys have this problem, and it’s not that hard to do something about it?
- Would you like to work on the problem with me?
- Is there anything I can do to help?
The issue of erectile dysfunction is so large in a man’s mind that he may find it challenging to work on the problem with you straight away. If he feels some relief about the idea of sharing the problem with you, that’s great… but be prepared for any reaction, and try and be understanding.
Simply allowing a man to vent his feelings without responding to them other than acknowledging them is a great first step.
Then, you can turn your attention towards working out the source of his emotions. For example, is he scared that he’ll never be able to have sex again? Does he think he is less of a man?
His resistance to acknowledging, talking about, or even working on the problem may come from his sense that men should be self-reliant and solve all their own problems. But the truth is that if you can persuade him you are indeed his ally in the matter of his erectile dysfunction, he’ll feel considerable relief.
The way to deal with resistance is to talk. But it’s got to be a discussion that suits the man. You probably know better than anyone how to approach him so that he is amenable to discussing his erectile dysfunction. Even so, you need to be able to put yourself into his shoes: this is not the kind of chat you might have with your female buddies. To expect him to respond to that is unhelpful. For him, this could seem like a matter of life and death!
You need to respect his maleness, and that may mean many things: not being emotional, being factual, looking forward, not back, and above all, perhaps, not blaming or shaming him.
This is not his fault – unless the relationship is really on the rocks, in which case the issues are rather deeper than his erectile dysfunction.
Things not to say with a man who has an erection problem!
Do not compare him with your previous lovers. This will always make things worse.
Do not encourage him during sex, or comment on his performance as you make love. This will just make him more anxious.
Never, ever, ever, be bitchy, mean or nasty about this: “You’re the only man who’s ever had this problem with me!” “Is that the best you can do?” And so on. Even if things like this are said in the heat of the moment, they are still destructive. Much better to say how you feel and and seek a way forward, or, if he has said something you do not like, tell him that you don’t like what he said and why you don’t like it.
There’s often a period of time required for a man to accept his erectile difficulties before he can bring himself to the realization that he needs to work on them. This is a typical grief reaction – in this case to the loss of his maleness and manhood and all that might signify for him. That could include youth, success, energy, desire, lust, his male sexuality even. Given time, most men adapt and begin to work on getting their erection back.
Finally, remember that it may not be so obvious to him that not having sex is upsetting you: he may not understand what his erection problem means to you unless you tell him.