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Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast
Today’s episode of the Erectile Dysfunction Radio Podcast is about erectile dysfunction and relationships.
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 6 – Relationships and Erectile Dysfunction
Today, we’re going to be talking about relationships and ED. We’re going to try to understand a little bit about how your relationship can be impacting your ED, and also what role your relationship can play within some of the solutions. We’ve already spoken about this in previous episodes. What you think and feel are crucial parts of your erection process.
Your beliefs about your partner, your feelings towards him or her, and what they think and feel about you are also very important in the erection process, certainly in the erection process in a partnered setting. How you communicate will impact your comfort and your security.
For most men, the more comfortable and supported they feel the easier it’s going to be to gain and maintain an erection.
How can you tell if your relationship is playing a role in your ED? There are a number of indicators that your relationship may be impacting your erections.
One of them is if you are able to gain and maintain an erection on your own, and that you’re specifically struggling with gaining and maintaining an erection in a partnered setting. Another sign is that you’ve experienced a clear change in your relationship around the time that you began experiencing ED. This can include things like moving in together or having a baby.
Another sign is that you’re feeling distant. You may be considering leaving the relationship or you’re harboring feelings of resentment and anger towards your partner. I want to make mention that not all relationship problems mean that there is a problem with your partner or that there’s a problem with the current relationship.
In many situations where a man finds himself struggling with ED, how he thinks about his relationship, the way he interprets his interactions with his partner is just as significant if not more significant than what his partner may or may not be doing. This is what we call the relationship paradigm.
There are times that the relationship paradigm is more significantly impacting a man and his erections than is the actual relationship.
The relationship paradigm is how we fill in the blanks. It’s how we make sense of the things that we don’t actually know, or that we are too uncomfortable to ask about.
Our relationship paradigm is also what drives our expectations. As an example, a man may experience ED and assume that his partner is disappointed or angry when that really is not the case. His paradigm may tell him that his erection is necessary for his partner to be happy.
And he will subsequently interpret any relationship distress or problem as being caused by his erectile dysfunction. Understandably, this is going to compound pressure on performance and likely increase the occurrence and the frequency of ED and all of this may be driven by what the man thinks about his relationship, about his relationship paradigm, and may not reflect at all what his partner is thinking.
Now, what are common relationship issues that can impact erections? One of the most common issues that I encounter is criticism, in particular being on the receiving end of criticism. If you are on the receiving end of a very critical partner, it can be difficult to engage and it can be even more difficult to not overthink and worry about the outcomes of sexual encounters.
Overthinking is going to get in the way of the positive, natural process that leads to more reliable and sustainable erections.
Another common issue that can impact erections and sexual function in general is distance in a relationship. Relationships do wax and wane. That’s normal. People feel closer and feel distant at various times over the span of their relationship. If there is sustained distance, though, from your partner, you may feel uncomfortable in their presence, not welcome to engage, and you may experience rejection.
These feelings can make engagements when they do happen, feel very uncomfortable and awkward, and that can have a negative impact on how you think and feel about your partner and yourself and subsequently impact your erection process.
Another issue that men sometimes face in relationships is attraction. Attraction is something that can also wax and wane over the course of a relationship. You may find that at various points in your relationship, attraction is not quite what it used to be. It’s a complex issue, very difficult to talk about, and one that requires a tremendous amount of sensitivity if in fact, this is a relationship issue and not a relationship paradigm issue.
In other words, attraction can be driven by external factors, something that has changed physically about your partner.
It could also be driven by your own constructs of attraction. Depending on which of those is driving your struggles with attraction will determine how you would proceed.
If in fact, though, you are struggling with an attraction issue with something very clearly pertaining to your partner is a very sensitive issue and one that needs to be approached delicately if it’s something you’re going to talk to your partner about.
The last relationship issue that I will mention is communication. I know that communication is a big buzzword when it comes to relationships. You may find that you struggle to reach your partner. More commonly, you may be experiencing criticism, or you may be receiving feedback that you are not a good communicator.
In either of those cases, in either of those circumstances, if you feel that communication with your partner, connecting with your partner is strained and you are struggling to figure out how to talk to them about things that are important to you, things that you might be sensitive about, things that you want, things that you desire, things that you need, if there is no good way to communicate with them, it is going to be very difficult to address some of the key factors that might be impacting you, some of the important things that might be the solution, or might help benefit enhance your erection process.
One of the common things that I see in my office is men who find themselves in a partnered setting may be able to identify what is or is not working for them. It may be individually-driven. It may be something that they want. It may be something that’s bothering them.
It may also have to do with their relationship, and they see a lot of success with being able to identify and address those factors on their own, but feel that because of the communication challenges in their relationship, there really is no way to talk with their partner about what it is that they need, what it is that will help.
In turn, some of their erection process is really not able to be resolved until they can reestablish healthy lines of communication with their partner.
If you are one of those men that find that when you are on your own, you have the ability to gain and maintain an erection, that you’re satisfied with that erection, and yet when it comes to a partnered setting, you are struggling to be able to achieve that same quality, that same level, that same consistency, that same reliability of erection, some of these relationship factors may be playing a significant role in preventing you from getting to that goal.
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