As a sexologist, I get an in-depth insight into one of the most intimate areas of people’s lives. It really is an honour to have people open up to me about their sexuality, this being something I do not take lightly. I understand sex to still be such a taboo in many people’s lives hence understand how vulnerable it can be to share one’s experiences.
Recently, I had a conversation with a man who had entered a new relationship and was unable to “get it up.” Seeing this person so filled with stress and anxiety about his perceived inability to perform got me thinking about the role us women play when the men in our lives are overcome with anxiety and pressure to perform.
Much of the stress and anxiety that men feel when they cannot get an erection comes from outdated beliefs that to be a man means to do everything he can to please and pleasure a woman with an erect penis. It saddens me knowing that so many men do not come to understand this as a false belief which does more harm than good. Women play such an important part in this process for men with the following some of the tools and approaches I recommend to support men through what can be a challenging time in their lives:
Allow him to express his emotions
When a man places an expectation on himself to get an erection and doesn’t, he can often be overwhelmed with a great deal of shame, frustration, anger and embarrassment. Allow him the space to express his emotions in a safe container so that rather than stewing in these toxic feelings he is given an outlet to get them out of his system. This could mean bashing a pillow, shaking, yelling (though not at you) or whatever else he does when he is feeling emotionally overwhelmed (e.g. going for a run or swim). Emotions can cause a host of problems if left unexpressed so encouraging him to express can mean the difference between staying stagnant and moving forward.
Encourage him to communicate
Men are rarely encouraged to speak about their feelings and the things that are troubling them. Let your man know that it is safe to talk about what is going on for him. Be present with him when he shares with you his thoughts and feelings on what is going on for him. It is crucial he knows that he can trust you with something so vulnerable for him.
Offer him a space to receive without any expectations of what is to happen
Offering your man a chance to receive can be a really beautiful way of him experiencing pleasure that isn’t dependant on him having an erection. A penis massage or oral sex can feel exquisite even with a non-erect penis and can be a chance for him to really drop into his body, away from his mind that is incessantly pressuring him to perform. Let him know before that an erection or orgasm is not the key of the experience and that you simply want him to receive with nowhere to get to and nothing to do but enjoy the experience.
Connect with him in an intimate way
Taking time to be intimate and sensual with your man is still really important regardless of whether he has an erection. This could mean giving and receiving a massage, cuddling, kissing or engaging in oral sex. Just because a man doesn’t have an erection, doesn’t mean he still doesn’t find you attractive or want to be sexual with you. This brings me to my next point…
Refrain from personalising the “problem”
Asking “Don’t you find me attractive anymore?” is valid however it can place enormous pressure on your man to console you when he is already in a vulnerable position. Some women can get quite upset when their man does not get an erection when engaging intimately with them and its perfectly fine to feel this way but just remember that how sexy, attractive or desirable you are should never be dependent on another person. Take care of yourself and when you feel like you are not asking from a triggered place, it can be great to ask if there is anything you can do for your man. Just ensure that if you do, do so from a place of genuine care and not for validation of your worth.
Invest in your own pleasure
As great as sex with your man can be, if he has difficulties getting an erection it can be a great opportunity to really dive into your own pleasure solo. Here are some ways to invest in your own pleasure:
- Invest in a beautiful glass dildo or sex toy.
- Explore your body in different ways.
- Be sensual and sexual with yourself.
- Let your man watch you as you pleasure yourself.
These are the little things that can make all the difference between feeling victimised by your partner’s inability to get an erection and being empowered by taking your pleasure into your own hands.
Being supportive, loving and compassionate with your man if and when he faces challenges with getting an erection is such a beautiful way to approach what can be an incredibly challenging time for him.
Author: Stephanie Curtis, Sexologist
Meet the newest member to our team of experts. Stephanie Curtis is a sexologist with a huge capacity to care. Involved in spirituality and tantra her articles are professional, articulate and interesting. Enjoy Steph’s writings at the adultsmart sexual wellness and health blog.