How can I fix my partner's sexual dysfunction?Sex / May 4th 2016  at 10:13AM   /   0

Dear KC, I'm dating a 60 yr old man who's just gone through a painful divorce. He has minor health issues, yet nothing that should affect sexual performance...except he is having issues. Things start off with a bang, then everything deflates (if you know what I mean). We're awaiting results from his doctor, but I suspect the divorce has shaken his confidence. If things continue to stall, I fear he'll leave me out of pure embarrassment. 

Research shows that only one in three people with sexual problems discuss it with their doctor. Even when dysfunction turns out to have a psychological cause, it can be compounded by minor physical issues. Mild diabetes combined with a period of work stress can lead to erectile dysfunction, whereas the same mildly diabetic man might have a perfectly firm erection when relaxed on vacation. 

Some drugs (prescriptive and otherwise), alcohol, and smoking are known to contribute to ED. Venous leaks are a possibility at your partner's age (aging veins in the penis become weak and can't retain the blood flow), but in those cases it's difficult to achieve a firm erection at all. Men who get firm erections but have difficulty maintaining them are more likely to have a psychological issue. If a man has hard erections during a make-out session or upon waking ("morning wood"), but loses them when he tries to put on a condom or penetrate his partner, he probably has performance anxiety.

Divorce and being new on the dating scene can be hard on a man's self-confidence. He might be too focused on your pleasure versus his own (odd as that sounds, it's incredibly common). If he's stuck in his head, he can't get into his body. The stress of trying to impress you keeps him from experiencing the sensual pleasure of the moment. The more he worries, the less able he is to "perform," creating a vicious cycle of anxiety and disappointment. If this is the case, your attitude of patience, empathy, and acceptance will be invaluable moving forward.

Try adopting a slower approach to sexual activity, beginning with sessions of extended sensual touching—what's called non-demand touching, or touching for pure pleasure. Exercises in "sensate focus," a technique developed by Masters and Johnson, is an effective approach to issues such as yours. It involves caressing each other, first in non-sexual ways (for example, alternating 30 minute back caresses, then 30 minutes on the front) before gradually moving toward more erotic, sexual touching. I'd recommend spending a few evenings together with nothing but non-demand touching on the agenda. Leave sex off the table for a few dates, then move forward when a more relaxed vibe has been established. There's a lot more to it than that, but you get the general idea.

Getting away from a goal-oriented mindset reduces anxiety. Men tend to be goal-oriented and your partner sounds like he really wants to please you. His heart is in the right place, and with a little luck and patience, his penis will soon be too. ;)

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