Facing Impotence as a Couple

Men who experience erectile dysfunction (also known as male impotence) share the psychological effects with their significant other, especially in long-term relationships where hiding your condition could lead to quick consequences.

If a man is unable to gain or maintain an erection for sexual intercourse, he will undoubtedly feel ashamed and emasculated. If his inability to have an erection occurs frequently, it will affect the man’s self-esteem and lead to emotional withdrawal from his partner’s affections. Depression often occurs because he feels alone in his condition and embarrassed to seek professional help either from prescription medication or therapy.

The man’s sexual partner may feel equally frustrated and confused if erectile dysfunction is not openly talked about and understood. Without honest discussion, the partner may feel the man no longer finds him/her attractive enough and is therefore the cause. They may also feel the man is sexually active with someone else and does not wish to engage sexually with them. These feelings from both sides are perfectly normal and erectile dysfunction should be considered a couple’s problem with a shared solution. 

Hiding Impotence Is Quite Common

Generally speaking, there are two psychological reasons why a man will not disclose his erectile dysfunction to his significant other. First, there is an intrinsic refusal to seek out help. A man is culturally nurtured to equate asking for help with weakness and failure. This is especially harmful because of the strong sexual component with the failure of the penis being a failure of one’s masculinity. Most of the time, the man will not even be aware of how his erectile dysfunction is affecting his sexual partner emotionally.

Secondly, men are not verbal communicators and tend to withhold information rather than share it with their partners. They prefer to internalize their emotions and are slower to reveal them, which is incredibly harmful to a sexual relationship. In the case of male impotence, men are afraid of how their partner will react to the information. This is strongly perpetuated by the myths surrounding male impotence including the belief it means the man is infertile or lacks virility.

Dealing With Impotence in a Relationship

The solution could be as simple as joint therapy where both partners are made aware of the condition, their concerns, and how to best proceed. Couple’s counseling is important to ensure no one is made the villain or assigned blame. The sooner erectile dysfunction is out and talked about, the sooner the relationship can be repaired. 

As a couple, it is far easier to evaluate the psychological or physical conditions affecting the man’s health when both parties are aware of the situation. Because erectile dysfunction can be caused by environmental factors (diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, lack of exercise) as well as mental ones (nervousness, fear of pregnancy, performance anxiety), openly talking about the issue can solve some if not all of these causes.

Television commercials for erectile dysfunction are another cause of relationship trouble because they forward the fantasy that this condition can be cured through prescription drugs. While they are indeed effective at producing erections, the emotional damage is not dealt with at all. It is far more important in a couple’s relationship to determine exactly why the man is suffering from male impotence than it is to use chemical enhancers.

Intimacy is an Important Component

In many cases, the man is not experiencing true dysfunction and should not resort to extreme measures to correct it when there are simple lifestyle changes that could do the same. Many sex therapists do not recommend full sexual intercourse as an indicator of success or failure. Many couples perceive the ability to have sex as the best indicator for eliminating erectile dysfunction. While this may be true to some extent, intimacy and the bond shared in a sexual relationship is considered more important.

Finding happiness with your partner is not about erections and sexual satisfaction. If both partners cannot find common ground outside of the bedroom, there is often more than just male impotence that is hurting the relationship. Again, couples counseling or sex therapy can help a relationship identify these problems and help find a solution.   



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