To the partners of men with erectile dysfunction

Hi ladies (or gay dudes), hopefully I have some information that might put your mind at ease and help repair the bedroom issues in your relationship.

I’ve been coaching men since 2013, particularly people pleasers and Nice Guys, and many of them suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED), sometimes referred to as “performance anxiety”. I quite pride myself on being one of the few professionals available who can help men overcome this issue without the need for medication.

While I focus on my clients, I can’t help but notice that their partners suffer almost as much as they do. 

It’s not just the frustration of being unable to have a successful sexual experience, you probably also doubt your attractiveness, worry that he’s doing something sexual behind your back, and fear for the long-term consequences in your relationship.

Please, take a moment to put aside your previous assumptions about what’s happening, and allow me to share some inside knowledge about this issue.

My experience

Firstly, I suffered from ED myself for most of my 20s. It began with my first ever sexual partner when I was 15, and continued off and on since then until I finally dealt with it over 10 years later.

I wasn’t cheating. I wasn’t addicted to porn or drugs. I wasn’t pretending to be attracted to women I wasn’t actually into.

Ironically, the problem only occurred when I really liked a woman, was fully attracted to her, and hoped a sexual relationship would continue. I generally didn’t struggle with girls I didn’t care about or didn’t find particularly attractive!

It only takes a single episode for a man to fear that it will happen again. Then, the anxiety about potentially not being able to perform becomes the cause of the problem – we get ED from worrying about getting ED.

It’s a vicious cycle that most men cannot escape with professional help.

What NOT to do

Some frustrated and suspicious women will say to their partners, “No other guy I’ve been with has had this problem.” 

OK firstly, you couldn’t pick a worse thing to say! It’s just cruel, and makes him feel like an absolute failure. 

Secondly, those other guys you’ve been with probably have had performance issues with other women – most guys have it happen at some time or another – so maybe you just weren’t important enough to those men to make them nervous! The kind of man who’s never experienced ED is either naturally confident (extremely rare), or someone who just doesn’t get emotionally attached to women enough to feel stressed and nervous.

Not to say you don’t matter, but it’s actually a weird kind of compliment for a man to be so nervous about pleasing you that he gets ED.

ED = confidence problems

My ED issue was really about a deeper confidence and shame problem. This is probably also the case with your man.

See, the penis is a sensitive organ. An erect penis is actually relaxed – that’s how the blood is allowed to flow into it. A flaccid penis is actually tense, and highly responsive to a man’s emotional state. 

So when a man “can’t get it up”, what it means (assuming he doesn’t have a medical issue) is that he is too nervous, stressed or under pressure to relax.

I am yet to work with a client who is confident and authentic and also has ED. Performance anxiety is a symptom of a much deeper issue. Your man doesn’t love himself, doesn’t live with integrity, and has almost no real confidence. His flaccid penis is just evidence of deeper wounds.

When you get disappointed in him and frustrated at his “failure” to “perform”, you increase his stress, pressure and anxiety, which only makes the problem worse. Now he’s worried that he’s hurting your feelings and not pleasing you, and I’m sure you understand that him worrying even more than usual isn’t going to solve this.

Of course, it’s not your fault or your job to fix this issue, however if you want a satisfying sex life with your man, it’s in your best interest to learn what helps and what doesn’t.

It’s not about you

Taking it personally will often be your first reaction, however this is misguided. Remember, he’s only having this problem because he wants it to go well with you. If you weren’t important to him or attractive, he wouldn’t be struggling so much!

This problem is something that stems from early childhood and teenage trauma, and has nothing to do with you personally. 

For most guys, it’s a combination of things. 

Firstly, we have been pressured all our lives to be “good in bed” and do well with women. Our value as a man has been almost exclusively reduced to the performance of our penises. You might not have seen this conditioning because it only happens in secret conversations between boys and their friends. We were always competing and teasing each other about our sexual “success”, or lack thereof.

Secondly, many of us associate rejection and abandonment with sexual performance. When a girl breaks up with us, our first assumption is that we didn’t please her enough sexually. We’re usually wrong about this, but we don’t believe it could be anything else. We assume if we were good in bed, she’d never want to leave.

Many men with ED have been cheated on or otherwise rejected by women in ways that make us feel not worthy of a woman’s love, and make us doubt our ability to please a woman as their partner.

He DOES like you

Despite how the media often portrays men as selfish and sexually obsessed, the kind of man who regularly gets performance anxiety is actually a man who is obsessed with pleasing women, YOU in particular. He’s so emotionally attached to YOUR pleasure that the pressure he puts on himself completely tenses him up and prevents the necessary blood flow to your favourite organ.

To sum it up: your man has a deep sexual shame issue that makes him feel like he’s not good enough for you. This leads him to put immense pressure on himself to perform well sexually, which he knows probably won’t happen so he gets extremely nervous and stressed about sex. By the time you get into the bedroom, he’s a psychological mess, and his penis responds by malfunctioning.

What can you do about it?

The very best thing you can do about it is make it safe for ED to occur. Show him that his worth as a partner and as a man has nothing to do with how well his penis functions, or how well he performs in the bedroom.

This is achieved in a number of ways.

Make talking about this issue easy and normal. Don’t punish him for honesty about it. Resist the urge to take it personally, or insult him, or demand improvement. None of these things help you. Treat it like an illness that he has no control over, rather than something he does on purpose.

Make sure he learns how to please you sexually without needing his penis to function. Finger and oral play, for example, can substitute when things aren’t working. Give him an “out” so he knows that no matter what there is a way he can guarantee that you end up satisfied. Don’t make him guess how to do it: direct and guide him explicitly and ensure he knows when he’s doing it “right”.

Let him know that there is no deadline and no rush. He can take as long as needed to work through this issue, and that you will support him however he needs without pressure or punishment.

Emphasize that he needs professional support to work on his deeper confidence issues, and that you wish to support him in doing this work.

Consistently express to him what you appreciate in him as a man and a partner. Let him know why you love him and are attracted to him, so that he starts to see that it’s more than just sexual performance. He might never have been complimented in his entire life! Tell him about the things he can control that you like about him.

Challenge him to not use porn or masturbate. Help him eat healthy foods and quit alcohol. Encourage him to research methods by which he can boost his testosterone. Most men live a toxic lifestyle that aggravates this issue, and they can make this journey a lot easier on themselves by living healthier.


On some occasions, ED is the result of things like cheating, porn and drug addiction, or loss of interest in you as a partner. I don’t want to make you paranoid but these things are possible. However, they are unlikely. The best way to figure out if that’s the issue is to check for one of two things:

Has this happened before? If he has a history of ED, then it’s not something specific to your relationship.

Has something big happened that might have destroyed him emotionally? ED can be a sign of depression and burnout. If you notice that the onset coincided with something like losing a job or having a loved one die then it’s unlikely to be something like cheating.

Get in touch for more support

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