If you went looking for this article, your man suffers with erectile dysfunction (ED), and you want to know how to best support him.
First of all, I want you to know that this is a very common issue in relationship. ED is something the majority of men over the age of 25 struggle with, at least intermittently.
Second, thank you.
This shit isn’t easy for guys. Having a partner who responds with love, support, and seeking out positive strategies is sincerely a remarkable gift.
How the partner handles it makes a huge difference. I’ve heard countless stories from gun-shy, nervous men who have been shamed, blamed, and made fun of by past and present partners for not being able to get it up. And it’s not something they’ll ever forget. All that response does is build tension and fear in him, which only makes him spiral into his mind, avoid sex, and ultimately makes the problem much worse.
So, how can you do things differently? What steps can you take to support him?
Without further ado, here are six tips for helping your man through erectile dysfunction.
1. Don’t take it personally
It’s not about you. Don’t go on a head-trip worrying about what you did wrong, or whether or not you turn him on. The voices might be saying something like:
“He’s not attracted/in to me…”
“He’s bored with me…”
“I’m not sexy enough for him…”
“He thinks my (whatever you judge most about yourself) is gross and he’s just not willing to say it…”
This is rarely ever the case. If he’s with you, he’s with you for a reason. In fact, it’s more often the case that he so badly wants to get it up/is so attracted to you, that this intention overshadows his ability to relax and be in his body.
In it’s simplest form, if your partner is between the ages of 20-60, intermittent erectile dysfunction usually comes down to high stress levels and/or cardiovascular issues.
Indulging in your own insecurities, while he’s neck deep in his, creates two triggered people who are (at best) silently caught up in their stories, and (at worst) lashing out at each other and making each other wrong to mask their pain. This sets up an incredibly volatile situation where neither person is able to hold space for the other, or truly listen, usually resulting in mutually hurt feelings and disconnection.
Whether it’s the right thing to do or not, men invest so much personal stock in their ability to please their partner and perform in the bedroom. We’re raised to believe that our worth comes from what we do, rather than who we are. Not being able to get it up makes us feel inadequate, like we’ve failed at the one thing we should be able to do – help make you happy.
Since sexuality is the most vulnerable and intimate arena of our lives, erectile issues can trip our deepest core wounds around self-worth and lovability. As you’ve probably noticed, we can get very sensitive, melancholy, or even defensive when this comes up (or, rather, when it doesn’t come up).
Do your best to remember this in the moment. Set your story aside and get curious about his thoughts and feelings. Men aren’t exactly notorious for their emotional literacy, so it may take him some time. Stay relaxed, and…
2. Be supportive and loving
Empathy is the most crucial tool you can deploy here.
If he can’t get hard, respond with affection, patience, and understanding. Deep down, in that moment, he’s secretly worrying about upsetting you and negatively affecting what you think of him.
He might fear that you resent him. That you are dissatisfied with him. That you’re thinking of leaving him for someone who can get it up flawlessly, 100% of the time.
You can combat that knee-jerk emotional reflex by gently expressing unconditional love.
“That’s okay baby, I don’t care, I just like being naked with you…”
“I don’t know what your busy mind is conjuring up for you right now, but I want you to know that I’m not upset with you in the slightest, and I love you so much.”
In this situation, very few guys are ever met with such total acceptance and positivity. And even when they are, they may have trouble actually receiving it and feeling it. Our most vulnerable and sensitive moments are opportunities for deep healing. This would definitely be one of them. Being loved through his erectile issues may even help solve the problem.
The value of being able to swap out the fear based internal dialogue of, “Wow, I must really be a worthless piece of shit if I can’t do the only thing that my partner expects of me,” with the real-time, auditory feedback of, “I love you… you’re safe… there’s nothing to do or fix right now. I just want to be here with you,” can not be overstated.
At the very least, it will massively diminish any sense of insecurity and concern around the issue.
Be kind. Be present with him. Chill out for a minute. Then switch it up from a place of love and exploration, rather than trying to fix or repair something.
3. Find other ways to connect
Sex is a primary way men connect emotionally with their partner. Feeling like that means of connection has been undermined or sabotaged can be incredibly frustrating. This can bring up sadness and/or anger for the ED sufferer.
An erection is part of sex, but it’s definitely not everything. Find other ways to be with him in the moment. For example:
– Lay on him and softly caress his arms and chest
– Do oral anyways. Not in an attempt to make it hard, just to let him feel some pleasure and receive your energy (he may be a little too sensitive and stuck in his head to enjoy this, but encourage him to breathe and simply receive whatever pleasure he feels)
– Ask him to go down on you for a while
– Do some of the tips/techniques/exercises laid out in this article
4. Talk about it
It’s nice to take initiative and try creative solutions, but it’s usually best for both of you if you don’t play any guessing games.
Ask him if he needs anything from you, or how you can help him relax. He may just want to voice what’s on his mind, cuddle, or distract himself from sex a little altogether.
If you’re having feelings of unworthiness or frustration come up in response to him not getting it up, it might be best to save that conversation for another time – outside the bedroom (and by another time I don’t mean let it silently simmer for several days… but rather, mention it to him an hour later and just reality check your fears with him. “I know this probably isn’t true, but I’m having a hard time not making what happened mean something about me. You still find me attractive right? I’m just making sure”).
The primary thing most guys will be feeling in this situation is shame. It’s a very sensitive place to be. This is the time to help him work his way out of it, not risk pushing him further into it.
In such a delicate place, he might tend to make your message mean that he’s a burden, or wrong in some way, for having this issue. If he’s preoccupied with that, he won’t have the capacity to fully hear you out and give the conversation the attention it deserves.
Use some non-sexual leisure time to broach the subject and voice your feelings. Don’t point the finger, simply state your inner dialogue and ask for support. Maybe you need him to assure you he loves you, or perhaps you want him to consider a mutual solution (like 69’ing, mutual masturbation, or him going down on you).
5. Encourage him to be proactive with his health
Erectile dysfunction can be created (or exacerbated) by unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, eating high amounts of processed foods, or lack of exercise.
If your partner smokes or drinks, encourage him to break these habits. If he rarely/never exercises, start making date nights around sharing physical exercise together.
Ultimately, what is good for his heart health is good for his penile health. And what is good for his health is good for your shared sex life.
Besides, if he is carrying excess stress in his body, regular exercise will not only make his overall cardiovascular health better, it will also make his mind healthier.
In other words, he’ll be less prone to getting anxious about performing in the first place, and when his penis doesn’t rise to the occasion, he’ll be less likely to get down on himself about it since his mind will be more relaxed to begin with.
6. Formulate a plan
Ask him what he wants if it happens again in the future. What would make him feel good and at ease about the situation?
Some guys might want to talk, while others might want to just focus on pleasuring you. Another may want to exchange massages for a while.
Everyone will be different. But only they can know and speak for themselves. It’s possible he won’t have any ideas, and feel a bit lost. Just lay with him, or ask if you can experiment a little bit.
Let him know that you’re always open to trying something, and it would make you happy to know if there’s anything you can do.
In the end, know that you’re an amazing partner, and you are not alone. Millions of couples around the world deal with ED every single day.
Stay open and be patient. The solutions will fall into place in time.
Dedicated to your success,
Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you will also love checking out: