by Niall Doherty

Last week I wrote an article about erectile dysfunction, advising men how to deal with it. This follow-up aims to address female readers who have a sexual partner struggling with ED.

Nothing personal

First and foremost, if your man is having problems getting it up, maintaining an erection, or ejaculating prematurely, you need to know that it’s not your fault. You may worry that you’re not sexy or attractive enough, but please don’t. That’s not it. If it was, he wouldn’t be with you in the first place.

Some men may avoid you after a night of misadventure, but the most likely reason for that is his own embarrassment. His ego may demand that he keep his distance for a bit, or move along and try again with someone else. Or, as was my modus operandi, avoid all sexual interactions for a while.

So, please please please refrain from asking a guy who’s struggling between the sheets if you’re the problem. When I heard that, it just added more pressure. I then had to worry about someone else’s hurt feelings as well as my own inability to perform.

Other not-to-do’s should be obvious: Don’t laugh. Don’t make jokes. Don’t get angry or upset. Don’t text all your friends and tell them what happened. This is a very sensitive time for your man and he needs to know he can trust you.

What to do

(A caveat: I can only really tell you what behavior I appreciated and wished for when I was struggling with ED. Your guy might be different. Be sensitive and feel him out.)

I mostly recommend that you be gentle and reassuring. Don’t tell the guy that it’s no big deal — because let’s face it, it is — but let him know that you’re not about to run away screaming. He needs reassurance that he’s still worthy of you and that you’re not going to reject him because of this. You don’t even have to say anything. I personally got a lot out of my partner just laying there with me in silence and being affectionate (stroking my hair, for example). Your man may prefer being alone for a while. That’s cool, too. Give him space if he needs it.

I would suggest that you don’t even discuss the issue if this is the first time it has happened. Just assume it’s a once-off from him being tired, stressed, intoxicated, or something along those lines. Don’t ask him to explain why things went wrong, and hold off on initiating sex with him for a while. Give him time to try get his mojo back and regain confidence in his sexual prowess.

You do want to have a talk with him though if, a) a long time subsequently passes without him trying to initiate sex, or b) he experiences the same difficulty the next time you try getting jiggy.

In either case, give him the opportunity to broach the topic first. If it becomes apparent that he’s willfully ignoring the problem, tell him you’re concerned and would like to discuss it. Then you mostly want to listen and empathize. Once you think he’s expressed himself fully and feels understood, you can suggest he read my previous article, or read it yourself and offer some of the recommendations there.

If your man refuses to talk about or even acknowledge the problem, and you continue to have issues in the bedroom, unfortunately there’s not a whole lot you can do. At that point, I would recommend asking yourself if you really want to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t make an effort to talk about and resolve whatever difficulties may arise.

The silver lining

As I wrote last week, I’ve struggled with erectile dysfunction on more than a dozen separate occasions with three different women, and I would say that all three of those relationships ultimately benefited from the experience. But that was only possible because each time it happened, myself and my partner stayed with the discomfort and opened up to each other.

So don’t despair if your guy is struggling with ED. Your relationship may well grow stronger because of it.