How Do I Tell My Partner I Have ED?
Updated: Jul 29
Challenging Societal Norms
Sadly, many men have grown up in a society that has told them to associate erections with "performance". At the same time, many of our partners have been given the unhelpful message that the lack of an erection can somehow be their fault. Which of course, is completely untrue.
Women can often assume it’s because their partner is not attracted to them, or that they are doing something wrong. But this is almost always a false - and unhelpful - assumption. Not only is it distressing for both parties, but it can actually exacerbate the erection problems.
Because by feeling - and displaying - distress themselves, the partner can unintentionally contribute to their man feeling even more self-conscious. Or worse still, to feel pressure to obtain or maintain an erection next time.
And performance pressure, plus self-consciousness, is a sure-fire recipe to the normal waning of an erection becoming a real problem. In some cases leading to challenges like erectile dysfunction.
The good news is erectile dysfunction is a problem with multiple solutions.
Normalizing Erectile Dysfunction
Did you know most men have had the experience of their erection coming and going, and all men will experience this at some point. All the bravado in the world won't change that!
In fact, the waxing and waning of an erection is a very normal part of sexual functioning. Studies show that on average, a healthy man will lose his erection between 3 times during a 45-minute sexual encounter. So - you have a lot less control over your erections than you like to think!
Despite this, it can still feel difficult coming to terms with ED. Many men, regardless of whether they have ED, will experience some shame and embarrassment about their inability to get hard. And this doesn’t exactly make communicating with a partner easy.
The best thing you can do is have a conversation with your partner about it. Not only will the problem be easier solved with your partner, but you might also find their support and awareness takes the pressure off the situation.
So, we’ve got some pointers here to get you started and feeling confident!
How Do I Tell My Partner I Have ED?
When it comes to having a conversation about an issue, the first thing to think about is location. If erectile issues feel like a really sensitive conversation to you (as it does for most men) you might consider having a conversation outside of the bedroom.
The kitchen is great, but even better could be while driving, or on a hike - so you’re not constantly looking at each other in the face. This can feel a little less vulnerable for some people.
Practice what you’re going to say
When we feel uncomfortable about conversations, it’s always helpful to have a pretend conversation beforehand to prepare what you’re going to say.
You could start by saying ‘I feel a bit nervous about bringing this up, but I just wanted to tell you because it’s been playing on my mind’.
There are so many ways to say it, and your partner will appreciate you for being open with them!
Remind your partner you’re still attracted to them!
Start off by reinforcing how attracted to them you feel. As we mentioned before, people whose partners have ED tend to feel like this happens due to a loss of sexual attraction to them. But, this is most often not the case. So calm their nerves!
Be clear that there’s a scientifically proven difference between subjective sexual arousal (I’m turned on) and objective sexual arousal (I have an erection). Basing the early stages of the conversation in proven fact will help keep any emotions at bay.
Once you establish this, it will be a lot easier for them to support you in the process.
Consider what you’re going to do about it
If you’re bringing up the topic of ED, you might also want to think about what solutions you are going to be using. Having a game plan of how to sort it beforehand will take the pressure off the situation.
Lover has a ‘Getting Hard, Made Easy’ course specifically designed by experts to help overcome ED.
End on a positive note!
Wherever possible, try to end on a positive. When you do lose your erection, why not agree to use it as an opportunity to switch things up.
Going down on a female partner orally, for instance, is likely to give them a much better chance of reaching orgasm than penetration - and at the same time, this will also take the pressure off you and your ‘performance’ ability.
To Sum Up
To sum it up, being able to communicate with your partner freely protects you both from misconceptions and false assumptions.
And, why is this important? Well, because false assumptions can simmer under the surface and these can cause bigger problems down the line.
For the full guide to erectile dysfunction, and explaining erections - visit our ‘Getting Hard, Made Easy ‘ goal on the Lover app.
Be sure to check out our post ‘Coreplay Not Foreplay’ to learn more about giving in bed, and ‘Being Present For Sexual Pleasure’ to understand how to optimize your five senses for how to increase interest in sex.
Andre B. Araujo, Catherine B. Johannes, Henry A. Feldman, Carol A. Derby, John B. McKinlay, Relation between Psychosocial Risk Factors and Incident Erectile Dysfunction: Prospective Results from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 152, Issue 6, 15 September 2000, Pages 533–541