My Guy Can’t Get It Up. What Should I Do?

Evan, I have been dating a 35-year old guy for a couple months now. When we first started fooling around, he was unable to attain an erection. It was understandable, because he was going through a divorce, and so I know he had a lot on his mind all the time, and was used to one woman for so many years. After a few weeks, he was able to have sex with me, and even reached climax a couple of times. But now…we’re back to erectile problems. There is nothing wrong with his sex drive. Even when we’re unable to have sex, he’s always making sure that I’m fulfilled in other ways. I really, really, really would love to think that there isn’t anything wrong with me…I’m only 24 years old, and I’m pretty sure that I’m not totally disgusting. It’s a very frustrating matter, because it makes me feel so unwanted. He reassures me constantly that I’m sexy and beautiful and that he does, in fact, want me. But… a body cannot lie, and his inability to maintain an erection at all times worries me. —Brittany


I know, by looking at me, you’d think: this guy is an expert in erectile dysfunction.

Ready for Lasting Love?
Ready for Lasting Love?

This is biology we’re talking about, and it’s futile for you to take responsibility for what’s going on inside of him.

But really, that’s just an image I try to give off for the public. In fact, my penis remains in good working condition, not unlike a reliable Honda Accord with 120,000 miles on it. So, like any expert who is out of his depth on a given question, I turn to the Internet to help bolster my opinion with a few facts.

First of all, I want to disabuse you of the opinion that this has anything to do with YOU. It does not. Blaming yourself for his inability to get it up would be like a guy blaming himself because you’re PMSing or are clinically depressed. This is biology we’re talking about, and it’s futile for you to take responsibility for what’s going on inside of him.

Second, you should know that this is FAR more frustrating for him than it is for you. The only times that I’ve had trouble getting it up were the times that I HAD to (when my wife and I were trying to conceive). And I’ve gotta tell you, not being able to summon your penis when it’s been perfectly responsive (both voluntarily and involuntarily) your whole life is really trying. While I’m no doctor, I think it’s obvious that the more pressure a guy puts on himself to perform, the more he’s stuck in his own head, the less likely he’ll be able to perform. Factor in the pressure that you’re putting on him — as if he’s not just disappointing himself but disappointing (and rejecting) you, and, well, it’s no surprise that this problem hasn’t corrected itself on your watch.

Your body’s not the problem, but your attitude may be.

Put another way: your body’s not the problem, but your attitude may be.


As it stands, erectile dysfunction (ED), effects about 18% of the population, according to a study reported by the Mayo Clinic. For men aged 20-40, that number is closer to 5-10%. Unusual, to be sure, but not outside the realm of normal probability. Hell, I’m color blind, and that applies to 8% of all men, too. I can assure you, Brittany, that’s not your fault either.

If you’re going to turn this ship around — or get this elevator to rise, as it might be — you’re going to have to adapt a supportive, loving, no-big-deal stance to his temporary flaccidity. It IS hard to get it up when you’re not in the mood and your brain is buzzing with thoughts of work, lawsuits, and divorce, and you have to respect that.

While I can’t guarantee that you’ll solve his ED problem, I can promise you that your new attitude will not make it worse — something I can’t quite say about your current stance on his Royal Limpness.

(By the way, I’m not saying that you have to stay with him if he leaves you sexually dissatisfied; I’m saying that if you’re GOING to stay with him, being supportive, easygoing, and positive will be the most effective way to help him with his problem – instead of making it all about you.)