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Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast
Dating apps, such as Tinder and Bumble, are extremely common in our digital-first culture. We explore a possible connection between erectile dysfunction and these highly popular apps on today’s podcast episode.
The Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast is dedicated to educating and empowering men to address erectile dysfunction, improve confidence, and enhance the satisfaction in their relationships. This podcast is hosted by certified sex therapist, Mark Goldberg, LCMFT, CST.
Transcript of Episode 34 – Dating Apps and Erectile Dysfunction
Casey: Today we’re discussing erectile dysfunction and how it can be connected to dating apps. Tinder, Bumble, etc., we all know them by now, as they’re so prevalent in our digital first society but, what is the connection that you are seeing — or that the research is starting to show — with these dating apps and erectile dysfunction?
Mark: Let me start off by saying that I am not aware of, or familiar with, any particular study that has linked some aspect of dating apps to erectile dysfunction, however, I’m seeing this become a relevant issue that can be contributing to situational erectile dysfunction.
Let’s talk about what some of that connection could be between dating apps and erectile dysfunction. There are a number of different dating apps out there, as you mentioned, and there are various implications of different dating platforms.
I’m not going to name any names with regard to specific platforms, but I think of them as falling into two categories, one of those categories pertains more to what I would call hooking up or a potential one-night stand, and a second category of dating apps are for people who are looking for longer term relationships.
I think each of these categories comes with particular challenges with regard to erectile dysfunction. The primary category of hook-up apps present a number of challenges to men, one of those challenges is you’re trying to connect with somebody sexually that you really don’t know at all. This can be a really anxiety-provoking process for a number of men. Some men feel pressure to be on hook up apps, even if they don’t find it satisfying, if they don’t find it fulfilling, if they’re uncomfortable.
They go ahead and they meet up with people and one thing leads to another, and they’re really profoundly uncomfortable engaging in sexual activity with somebody that they really don’t know. This can lead to performance anxiety, and it can also lead to a general discomfort or a fear where the mind really takes over and worries about, “Who am I with? Do I even know this person? Is this what I wan to be doing? Do I enjoy what’s happening?”
As we’ve established already, and we’ve spoken about so much on this podcast, once the mind takes over and the thoughts are flowing, erections can be significantly impacted to the point of not even gaining an erection in the first place, let alone not maintaining it, and loss of rigidity.
These apps and the use of these apps, it probably is not the app as much as it is the implications of what type of relationship is being formed through these apps. Now, I will mention that there is a large population out there that finds these type of encounters very, very arousing, and they feel very comfortable in those settings, and those men are far less likely to experience erectile dysfunction resulting from these types of connections, at least in the short term.
Casey: That’s interesting because I was going to ask you about if somehow the technology was related to this or it was more of a dating phenomenon. Before these apps existed, was it common for a man to experience ED if they were frequently dating new people?
Certainly, this technology has ushered in a new era where it’s faster to date different people more than ever, but is it the technology or is it actually the process of dating so many different people that’s leading to the ED, in your opinion?
Mark: Let’s look at this from a number of angles… prior to dating apps, I think we have to ask is, would people be connecting at the same rate? In other words, there were certain settings where people had to be in or be at in order to connect with people, they couldn’t do this from the comfort of the living room. They couldn’t do this in the middle of a work day. They had to go out, they had to get dressed, had to get dressed up, they had to be in some type of setting.
Now, many more people have the capacity to connect without having to do all of that. The first question we would have to ask is, are more people engaging in this type of connection as a result of these apps. That would be question number one. Question number two is, does the technology itself impact performance anxiety, does it impact the way we connect with people, does it impact how we feel about those connections?
The answer is probably mixed, there’s complexity with this. There probably is an interplay between the technology piece and the reality that connecting very rapidly with somebody and proceeding to sexual activity can be very anxiety-provoking, so I imagine that there is some combination.
However, I could not tell you exactly how those two come together to create a more unique experience or a more unique situation that leads to perhaps a higher occurrence of erectile dysfunction or not.
Casey: Certainly dating apps, and this technology is open to people of all ages, but it does seem to be that younger people are more engaged with these apps, Tinder, Bumble, it seems more of a young person’s game, of course, there’s exceptions everywhere, but it is pretty safe to say that dating apps are used in general by more young people.
That reminds me of a constant theme of our overall podcast, and that’s ED in young, otherwise healthy men, so what can you remind us about the importance of education when it comes to ED in young, otherwise healthy men?
Mark: In my experience, dating apps are being used far more commonly for men who are single. I see men really in all age categories utilizing these apps. I think it’s fair to say that a younger crowd would be utilizing apps in a more of a hook-up type of app that probably is supported by data, however, the use of dating apps, I think has really become almost a way of life for anybody who is single and these issues can impact anybody at any age.
However, getting back to the question about the particular impact on young men, as we have discussed, young men seem to be more impacted primarily by the psychological factors that impact erectile dysfunction as opposed to the organic factors that impact ED.
Younger men tend to have healthy cardiovascular systems and are far less likely to be experiencing blood flow issues stemming from long-standing cardiovascular issues or blood flow issues or whatnot, whereas older men are. If a young man is on dating apps and is experiencing a erectile dysfunction, I think one of the starting points for him is going to really be asking some of those hard questions to himself:
Is this what he wants to be doing? Does he feel comfortable with this? Does this make them feel good? Does he find it arousing or does he find an anxiety provoking? And I think these questions are certainly more pertinent to a younger male who is healthy than it is to an older male who is struggling with other comorbidities that could contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Casey: You were talking about how single people tend to use these apps more, and it made me think about people that are already engaged in a relationship or perhaps are married and engage with these dating apps.
There are websites out there that cater to spouses that want to have an affair, and that opens a new discussion on erectile dysfunction and infidelity. Of course, that may be a different discussion for a different time, but is there anything you want to mention about that?
Mark: I agree with you, it is a larger discussion, and you are absolutely correct that people who are in all sorts of committed relationships do utilize these apps, it does happen, and again, to varying degrees. Some people just like the dialogue, some people like to meet up with other people, they’re all kinds of interests and wants and needs that people have.
However, I think the topic of infidelity or affairs and erectile dysfunction really needs its own space and its own time.
Casey: Absolutely, I agree with you on that. So why was this topic so important for us to discuss today, are you seeing as a sex therapist, as someone who is boots on the ground, talking to men every day about these types of issues, are you noticing a lot more men dealing with ED related to being on these dating apps?
Mark: There certainly is an overlap, and again, I want to just be careful about correlation and causality. I see the correlation and I’m hesitant to assume that it’s caused by the dating apps per se. I do think that there is a palpable anxiety that is felt when some men are engaging with these apps and don’t feel like they have many other options available to them.
Certainly during the time of this recording, we are still in the midst of a pandemic, it’s hard to meet people, and these apps are a primary way to be able to connect, and at the same time, it is extremely anxiety-provoking for a lot of men.
If you’re asking me if I’m seeing more men on these dating apps who are experiencing ED, the answer is absolutely. However, I would caution any listener from assuming that there is an immediate absolute connection, this is a factor for some, and maybe even for a bunch of men, but it certainly will not be the only factor that was going to be contributing to ED.
Casey: Can you clarify causality and correlation; what does that mean?
Mark: Sure, so a lot of times we will see a trend or a phenomenon emerging in broader society at the same time that we are seeing a certain issue come up like erectile dysfunction, now, the mere fact that they’re happening at the same time does not mean that one is actually responsible or causing the other.
There’s a general rise in use of dating apps, and like I was saying before, part of that probably has to do with the pandemic, and just because more people are on those dating apps, and there is a noticeable increase in erectile dysfunction in younger men, does not mean that it is because of the dating apps.
There may be factors that are causing both of those to rise, that are external that we just haven’t readily identified, so again, I would not rush to assume that if you’re experiencing erectile dysfunction and you’re using a dating app, that the moment you delete it, you will have resolved your erectile dysfunction, I think that is a bit of a far stretch to make.
Casey: Do you have anything else you’d like to add to this discussion before we wrap up today?
Mark: I think what’s important is that underlying a lot of these discussions about dating apps, is that people really need to get to know themselves, and if we’re talking about men who are struggling with erectile dysfunction or even men in general, I think it’s important that men think about what type of connection really works for them.
There can be pressure, certainly with younger men to be on these dating apps that really don’t make them comfortable. They may be looking for a long-term, secure type feeling relationship that a lot of these dating apps just don’t provide generally speaking.
I think it’s really important for a man to identify what type of connection makes them feel good, makes them feel comfortable, and sometimes that means not utilizing certain apps. That means making a decision to take your life in a certain direction that ultimately is what works better for you.
I think that is probably the most important piece when it comes to dating apps, is that you don’t have to be on all of them, and you don’t have to be engaging in things that make you uncomfortable because that is not going to support a healthy and robust erection process.
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