More than 150 million men experience impotence or erectile dysfunction at some point in their lives, according to the website Impotence-Guide. Statistically, this means that a great many of their partners are struggling with the issue as well. The website Healthcommunities reports that in the majority of cases, the cause of impotence is physical and can be treated, but if partners don't talk about it and take proactive measures, the Male Health Center indicates that it can end relationships.
Partners can react in many ways to a man's inability to perform sexually. A woman might believe that something she said or did caused the problem and experience guilt. In long-term relationships especially, she might believe that she is no longer attractive to her partner because she has aged or because her appearance has changed over time. This can result in shame. The Male Health Center indicates that impotence also have the effect of leading your partner to believe that you are being unfaithful or lying to her about your professed desire for her. She might feel betrayed.
Compounding the Problem
When his partner is obviously hurt and confused, a man is likely to feel responsible--after all, it is his inability to perform that is causing the problem. This puts added stress on him and can cause a vicious circle, compounding the problem. Stress and emotional factors can make him even less likely to be able to perform. Many men withdraw from their partner rather than risk impotence happening to them again, even to the point of being reluctant to hug, kiss or even hold hands, according to the Male Health Center. Worse, they might start arguments in an effort to keep their partner at a distance so that they don't have to try to perform.
Erectile dysfunction is not the man's problem or his partner's problem, but a relationship problem if left unaddressed, according to the Male Health Center. This is especially true if you have a problem talking openly with your mate about your impotence and about your feelings regarding it, as well as hers. Feelings of anger, resentment and depression can escalate. If you don't or aren't able to communicate your feelings to each other, they can drive a deeper wedge between you and have serious repercussions for your relationship.
Seek medical help and include your partner when you visit your physician. Give her an active role in the help process so that she can ask questions of her own. Don't just come home and report what your doctor said. An article in "U.S. News and World Report" suggests that sex therapy with a qualified counselor can teach both of you ways to maintain intimacy even if you can't achieve an erection. MayoClinic.com points out there are ways other than intercourse to enjoy gratifying sex. Concentrate on ways to fix the problem or work around it rather than on the effect it is having on you and your relationship.
The Good News
The Male Health Center says that impotence does not usually last forever. It can usually be treated and remedied. If you and your partner can weather the storm together, your relationship might become stronger because of it. Communicating about it might bring you closer. If you approach the problem as a team and find other ways to remain physically close, taking the pressure off might aid the recovery process, according to U.S. News and World Report.