ED men need to be treated gently

Dear Duana,

Both my roommate and I have been in relationships that started out great: emotional commitments and all, lots of time together.  But then it came time for sex. In both our cases, the men (50’s and early 60’s) had ED and took Viagra. In one case, his ED led to him blaming her for his “failures” and she broke it off. In the other, the sex was fine the first time, but he felt he had to apologize for being inadequate (he wasn’t at all) and then stopped seeing her because of this. Do we need to avoid men with ED in the future due to their anxieties and self-image problems? How do you deal with this in a relationship that isn’t marriage? Our dating pool is the 50+ crowd.



Dear Annie,

That’s really unfortunate that you and your roommate have both had experience with men whose sexual insecurities led to the demise of promising relationships.  I can see why you might want to simply avoid those men to prevent the disappointment you’ve experienced.  But I think avoiding men with ED is going to be rather limiting for you.  Here’s why, and what to do about it.

As men age, ED increasingly goes with the territory.  It’s normal for men to experience ED at some point; for most, it will be in their 50s and later (see stats in letter below).  And even if you get a healthy young ‘un, things happen; odds are, at some point he’s not going to rise to the occasion, at least some of the time.

Better, then, to have a strategy for helping a man who either has ED or will have it someday.  Plus, unless you’re okay with blurting out something like, “So, how ‘bout that Levitra?” you’re really not going to have knowledge of whether a particular guy deals with it anyhow—until it’s time to deal with it anyhow.

When ED arises, regardless of circumstance, most if not all men are going to be terrified.  The ones who will be most threatened and thus most likely to wig out are a) the guys who have false beliefs about masculinity and aging (“Mr. Big should always get and stay hard when I want it to, and age has nothing to do with it.”  “Real men get it up and keep it up.”) and b) the guys who tend to look at sex competitively rather than as an emotional expression.  Men in category b usually engage in spectatoring—experiencing their sexuality as if they are on the sidelines, critiquing their performance.  Men in category b are also frequently in non-committed relationships, like dating; unlike in marriage where there’s more trust, in dating, folks are evaluating one another.  And men are keenly aware of the high potential costs of being evaluated in this most sensitive, most core aspect of their very selves.

Put another way, when a guy doesn’t know you well enough to trust that you love him no matter what, he’s likely to critique his performance, and that can lead down rocky roads you and your roommate already know too well.  So, being with an older man, moreso than a younger one, is all about intimacy if you want great, connected sex and emotional bonding.

Intimacy is gradually revealing all aspects of the self without fearing loss of identity; it takes time.  For many if not the vast majority of men, whether or not Willie is doing what the guy wants is a big part of identity.  Losing a formerly dependable erection is terrifying, and sharing this shift of identity is highly threatening.  And all the moreso with a new partner.

What can you do?  Well, there are many techniques.  You’ve probably read my article about treating ED when the guy does not want treatment, which published last week:http://www.lovesciencemedia.com/love-science-media/do-it-yourself-sex-therapy-the-sneaky-way.html

And there is a good  about making love to a man who is 50+, which you can see here: 

These sources have plenty of tips.

The problem is, the tips ALL require levels of intimacy younger people rarely have to think about.  I mean, can you imagine saying to your new boyfriend, “Okay, I need you to lie very still so I can massage your penis, and then after we are both accustomed to your erection coming on without intercourse, we can eventually try insertion—but only for a moment.  Then, you can give me oral and we’ll call it good, eventually moving towards more intercourse?”  Me neither.  These techniques are simply not dating-appropriate.  They are for solid relationships with a really high level of trust and love.

This does not always mean marriage; it does mean intimacy.  True, time-taking intimacy.

Upshot?  The strategy here is Waiting.  It’s vital to Wait to get intimate sexually until there is a very solid base of emotional intimacy  and deep level of knowledge of each other and high level of trust present.  You need to know an older guy better than you would a younger guy before you have sex, because it’s likelier you’ll be dealing with ED at least sometimes, and you don’t want that to break apart what could have been a delightful relationship.

So read Keesling’s book and my article.  When your relationship has reached a point where you could say and do the things that they recommend, your relationship is ready for sex—ED or no!




Book coming in January, 2015: Love Factually: 10 Proven Steps from I Wish to I Do

—“If you are going to read any book about love – make it Love Factually.” ~eHarmony


© Copyright 2014 Duana WelchPh.D., All rights Reserved.