When a woman faces erectile dysfunction in her partner, her number one fear is usually "he's just not that into me." Guess what? It's time to stop taking it personally.
Erectile dysfunction or an inability to maintain an erection can be quite an obstacle in the bedroom. More and more men seem to be showing up in my Los Angeles sex therapy/sex addiction practice with anxiety-based erectile dysfunction. Men as young as 30, in peak physical condition, are telling me how they've become dependent on a Viagra regimen in order to keep it up. As I work with these cases of mind vs. body (because that's often the case in anxiety based sexual dysfunction), I begin to hear stories about their female partners and how they take it when their partner's flag drops below half-mast. The number one assumption among these women seems to be: He must not be attracted to me.
Does this resonate with you? Have you found yourself ready for action, only to find that he's lost his enthusiasm? Chances are it has happened to you, or your best friend or your friend's friend. So what do you attribute it to? If you are like most people, the message you internalize is: I'm not sexy/attractive/good/fill-in-the-blank enough. We all have self doubt, and when we encounter an experience that could potentially give credence to our negative self talk, it's tempting to grab hold of the evidence and run with it. But I beg of you, for the sake of your self esteem and your relationship, don't go there.
Are you familiar with the spirituality 101 book The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz? The second agreement states, "Don't take anything personally." This could not be more applicable than in the case of erectile dysfunction. There are many reasons he might lose his erection including stress, diet, exercise, sleep, alcohol consumption and smoking, just to name a few. But if he's lost it once, the fear then becomes what if this happens every time? What if I can never again get it up or keep it up? For men, struggling with ED is like getting stuck with a bad song on repeat, continuously reiterating all of his worst nightmares about himself and his manhood. This ongoing loop of negativity becomes all he can focus on, isolating him in a black cloud of his thoughts. At this point, you could be Angelina Jolie in a negligee, but if he is in the throes of his ED, he'll be too wrapped up in his destructive thinking to notice. While the original loss of his erection was most likely due to one of the above factors, his anxiety is now running the show, further preventing him from getting or being able to keep his erection.
In the event that you just can't help yourself and you do take it personally, then consider this: while it's tempting to go to the head space of he lost his erection because he's just not that into you, frankly, it's more likely that the opposite is true. He lost his erection because he is that into you -- and it probably scares the crap out of him. Anxiety-based erectile dysfunction is exactly that -- anxiety-based. Anxiety around intimacy, anxiety around performance and anxiety around pleasing a partner are all signs that you are important to him, you mean something to him and he has fears or concerns that he might let you down in some way. Do these sound like the sentiments of someone who is 'just not that into you'? Didn't think so.
The next time your sack session is interrupted due to erectile dysfunction, remember: It's much more about him than it is about you.
Follow Alexandra Katehakis, M.F.T. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sexaddexpert