When Your Partner Has Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Are you and your partner feeling the weight of ED on your relationship? It seems like everywhere you turn, the focus is on supporting your partner through this difficult time. But what about you? What about your needs and feelings? It's time to shift the spotlight and shine a light on the rollercoaster impact ED can have on you as a partner and how to cope with it."
I totally understand how frustrating and disheartening it can be when your partner has erectile dysfunction. But let me tell you, there's hope. My partner and I were in the same boat, but when we opened our minds to new possibilities and tried different approaches, we completely transformed our sex life into something magical.
I bet you and your partner can do the same thing. And the best part is, it doesn't have to be a complicated or stressful process. In fact, it can be a fun and enjoyable journey that brings you and your partner closer together.
How You Feel About Being the Partner of Someone With ED
First off, let’s talk about what you are feeling because your feelings are justified.
Frustrated: It can be absolutely maddening when your partner has ED and they seem to be in denial about seeking help. It's like watching a slow-motion trainwreck - you can see the problem getting worse and worse, but your partner seems content to bury their head in the sand and hope for the best.
They often won’t go to the doctor, won’t try treatment options, or won’t make lifestyle changes that would help, like losing weight, reducing drinking, or changing porn use. They avoid dealing with their ED, as if the problem will just go away. But it doesn’t, and meanwhile, you're left feeling helpless and frustrated. Worse, it can leave you feeling unsupported and alone.
Hurt: It's a heartbreaking reality and deeply hurtful when your partner with ED avoids intimacy with you. It can feel like a personal rejection. Your physical and emotional needs are left unfulfilled, and it's hard to understand why someone who cares about you would choose to distance themselves from you in that way.
It's almost as if they're living in fear, tiptoeing around any type of physical touch or romantic gestures, like date nights, for fear that it might lead to something more. But it doesn't have to be this way, there are ways to work through this together.
It's natural to feel the sting of rejection when your partner avoids intimacy. I remember the days of wondering why my own partner never made a move. It was only later that I discovered the reason - he was terrified of not being able to perform.
It's easy to spiral into self-doubt, questioning if your partner finds you attractive or if you're not "sexy" enough. But let me assure you, it's not you. You are alluring and desirable, trust me. Erectile dysfunction can have many causes, but your attractiveness is not one of them.
Disappointed: Let's be real, who doesn't enjoy a good romp in the sack? But for those of us who live for intercourse, ED can be a major buzzkill. And for those who prefer other forms of intimacy, it's a disappointment when your partner with ED shuts down all forms of sexual contact.
But let's not forget, there are countless ways to be sexual and to express love and affection that can be just as satisfying as traditional intercourse.
It's frustrating when your partner closes themselves off to all other options just because intercourse is off the table. It's important to remember that it's normal to have sexual desires and needs, and it's okay to want your partner to be a part of fulfilling them!
Hopeless: Feeling like you're stuck in a never-ending cycle of disappointment and unfulfilled desire is a normal feeling when your partner is struggling with ED. The thought of living a life without the intimacy you crave can be overwhelming and scary. You might be filled with questions like:
Will things ever get better?
Will we be stuck in this cycle of sexual dissatisfaction for the rest of our lives?
And when your partner is hesitant to explore treatment options, it can feel like there's no light at the end of the tunnel. But don't lose hope just yet, there are ways to navigate this journey together and come out on the other side with a deeper and more satisfying connection.
Angry: It's only natural to feel anger and a twinge of jealousy when your partner with ED turns to self-pleasure. Whether it's the fear of being replaced or the belief that masturbation is somehow 'wrong', these feelings can be fueled by insecurity and societal stigmas.
But let's set the record straight - masturbation is a completely normal and healthy aspect of human sexuality. It's a way for individuals to discover their own desires and pleasure, and it can even help release sexual tension and boost self-confidence.
It doesn't replace the intimacy shared with a partner but rather it's another way of expressing and exploring one's sexuality.
What you Need When Your Partner has ED
There are many things you might need when your partner has erectile dysfunction (ED). These are the things I needed from my partner as we worked through the impact of his ED on our relationship.
Support and understanding: Navigating the tricky waters of ED can be a challenging journey, but it's important to remember that you're not alone. Don't be afraid to speak up and let your partner know what you're going through.
It's okay to ask for their understanding and support as you navigate the challenges of ED together.
Open and honest communication: When it comes to tackling ED in your relationship, it's time to break out the truth serum and have a heart-to-heart. Ditch the sugarcoating and be transparent about your thoughts, feelings, and needs. And don't forget to ask your partner to do the same.
This includes discussing your own desires and needs, as well as delving into your partner's innermost thoughts and emotions about ED. It's a conversation worth having, as it will be the key to unlocking a deeper understanding and intimacy in your relationship.
Plus, being able to communicate openly and trust one another sexually can open a whole new world of possibilities in the bedroom. From trying new things to exploring new ways of intimacy, you'll be able to build a deeper level of trust and intimacy with your partner.
Affection and intimacy: When it comes to ED, it's important to remember that intimacy comes in many forms. Sure, intercourse may not be possible, but that doesn't mean you should settle for a sexless existence.
From cuddling and kissing, to emotional connection and intimacy, there are countless ways to express love and affection. Don't let ED define your relationship, and remember that intimacy goes beyond just intercourse.
A sense of connection and closeness: It's easy to feel disconnected from your partner. But don't let this setback define your relationship. Instead, explore new ways to connect emotionally and physically.
From finding new activities to do together, to experimenting with different forms of intimacy, you can deepen the bond you share and create new memories together. It's time to think outside the box and create a new definition of closeness and intimacy.
It's important to remember that your needs and desires still matter. Don't be afraid to communicate them to your partner and work together to find creative ways to meet them. Explore new forms of intimacy and find new ways to connect emotionally.
The key is to not let ED define your relationship but rather use it as an opportunity to strengthen it. Together, you can overcome the challenges of ED and maintain a satisfying and fulfilling relationship.
What Helped My Partner and Me
Navigating the difficult world of erectile dysfunction is no easy feat, it's not for the faint of heart. As a sex therapist, I had the inside scoop on all things ED, but that didn't make the journey any less challenging.
However, even with my expertise, it was still a bumpy ride trying to steer our relationship through the choppy waters of ED. But don't worry, we learned some things that will help you. Keep reading!
My partner was open to treatment options: My partner was willing to do whatever necessary in order to improve his ED so we could be sexual. He immediately went to see his primary care physician and then a urologist and we tried PDE-5 inhibitors.
I hope you noticed that I said “we” and not “he.” Working through ED is a couple’s problem and not just your partner’s. Both of you are key to working through this and creating wonderful sex lives.
We learned to become good communicators: One of the most crucial keys to our success in navigating the challenges of erectile dysfunction was our willingness to have open and honest conversations about how it was impacting us. It wasn't always easy, and some of our conversations were awkward and uncomfortable, but we persevered.
And, as we continued to work on our communication, something miraculous happened - we both became more comfortable with being vulnerable with each other, both in and out of the bedroom. This newfound sense of trust and openness allowed us to explore new sexual territories and expand our sexual repertoire, which ended up positively impacting our sexual relationship.
We redefined sex: Unlocking the secrets of how to have amazing sex despite erectile dysfunction is a game-changer, and one that will serve you well. One of the most important things we did was to redefine what sex meant to us.
Instead of equating sex with intercourse alone, we broadened our definition to include anything that was sexually pleasurable and connecting.
This shift in perspective was crucial, as it allowed us to break free from the narrow, pass-fail model of sex that is often tied to intercourse. By embracing a more expansive view of what sex can be, we were able to experience a whole new world of pleasure and connection.
We tried new things and sex became fun again: We pushed ourselves out of our comfort zone into the world of sex toys and fantasy. We had sex in new ways and in new places. This was personally freeing for me and allowed me to get in touch with myself sexually in deeper, more meaningful ways (no puns intended!)
Also, because our communication had improved, we both got better at saying what we wanted. Our sex became exciting, interesting, ever-changing, and fun! ED had filled sex with anxiety and pressure. But when we stopped focusing on my partner's erections, we opened the door to a world of playfulness and fun.
We let go of the weight of expectation and instead focused on exploring new ways to pleasure each other, and the result was a newfound sense of freedom and enjoyment in our sexual experiences. It was like flipping a switch and suddenly, sex became a playful, exciting adventure again.
I hope this validates how you feel about the difficulties of having a partner with ED. I hope it helps you think of ways to get your needs met and to improve the impact of ED on your relationship.
If you are still struggling, you may benefit from my course on erectile dysfunction. It’s designed for individuals and partners. You can read more about it HERE.
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