10/27/2014 08:01 am ET Updated Dec 27, 2014

Boomer Men, Sex, And Manhood Myths

Hot Cars
The first question we asked new car owners when we were teenage boys was, "What's under the hood?" The more horsepower, the more respect. But the world has changed, and the question we ask new car owners today reflects the difference. "What's the mileage?"

Involuntary Salutes
Dating has also gone through a radical transformation since we were teenagers. When we were young and hormonal the sexual nature of teenagers was primal. We dated with fervor reminiscent of prehistoric man who mated frenetically to ensure the survival of the species. The hormonal nature of teenage boys also meant sporadic, involuntary, erections that in retrospect were an embarrassment of riches. I'll never forget standing in front of my 7th grade class, trying to read my book report while holding it in front of my pants in a failed attempt to hide an involuntary erection. Even the jeers from 30 boys and girls couldn't wilt my embarrassment.

Cold Truth
Flash forward to a 60-something boomer guy wistfully remembering his perpetual state of youthful arousal while simultaneously struggling with ED, an embarrassment of inadequacy. I became aware of the extent of ED among boomer men in my 60s, when women on first dates began asking if I was still sexual. When I inquired why they'd asked, they answered, "Because lots of guys your age aren't." That was my first indication that ED might be a more widespread issue than I'd previously thought. I wasn't smug or glib when I answered yes, because I was already contemplating how men with ED might feel answering no, or having to explain their particular state of sexuality.

Manhood Redefined
ED is an unanticipated problem for a substantial number of boomer men, and I've redefined my notion of masculinity to include a wider spectrum of men. "Will women date me if I can't get it up?" "Am I still a man?" "Should I date?" Shame, regret, and the anxiety around ED are not easily resolved. But there's another, more positive aspect of ED I'd never considered.

No Universal Sex Standard
A sexually active friend in her late 60s recently told me about a long-term relationship she'd had with a man with ED, and she further added that their sexual relationship was off the charts incredible. I was confused at first and couldn't imagine what she meant, but I began asking questions after hearing similar stories from other women. Women's answers clarified why many men's previous notions of masculinity are flawed. Sexuality can take many forms, which means that men with ED aren't precluded from being in sexual relationships with women.

Critical Connection
There are a myriad of emotional reasons why a boomer man may not be able to perform. My experience, and the experiences of a vast number of boomer men, indicate the majority of men can continue engaging in intercourse almost indefinitely if they learn to connect their hearts with their manhood. This isn't a pie in the sky solution, and even a boomer who supplements his sexual performance with an ED prescription still won't achieve his fullest functionality absent a strong emotional connection with a woman.

Sex Talk
I was fortunate to discover the heart/manhood connection at a time when I began feeling my sexuality wane. I learned about this connection from boomer men friends who'd already mastered it. Frankly, since sex is still a major aspect of relationships, I can't imagine a topic boomer guys should discuss with each other with more urgency than their sexuality, no matter how difficult. Granted, sex can be a difficult conversation for a man to have with other men or a woman in a relationship. But a man can't put his sexuality on autopilot if his goal is to maintain peak performance.

A Promise
I can't promise the heart/manhood connection will make every man capable of intercourse. But I can promise that a man who masters this connection will create an opportunity for a sexual renaissance.

The Can Do Generation
We're decades too young to write sex off as something we used to enjoy. And since many women consider forms of sexual play other than intercourse desirable, I urge boomer men with ED not to give up the notion of being in a sexual relationship with a woman.

But I also want to assure men who don't have ED that mastering the heart/manhood connection can ensure decades of quality sex that rival or exceed what you're currently experiencing. It has worked for an enormous number of men, including me.

We're the generation that changed the world so changing our attitudes about sex, with the purpose of increasing our enjoyment, shouldn't present an insurmountable challenge.

Earlier on Huff/Post50:

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