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  • Writer's pictureJessica Childs

Erectile Dysfunction - The One Who Got Away...

Did I shack up with the WRONG DUDE?

Well, that got your attention.

Don't worry. Eric and I are killing it at this whole nesting partners thing. But...there was this guy. This powerful, sensitive, delicious morsel of a budding man that I went home with one night in my mid-twenties. We had known one another for a long time and had a long-running flirtation and make-out thing going. It hadn't escalated past a 3 on a sexual escalation scale of 1-10, but the intimacy and joy had been growing between us for a few years. Kissing him was magic and I looked forward to seeing him. We kept it simple...and full of tenderness and laughter.

Then one night after all those years, something shifted and we found ourselves pushing up the pathway toward more and more arousal...moving higher up the escalation scale together. And it was exciting and connected and everything I could want in a sexual experience. It felt so good and natural and so alive and so yummy and I was so IN IT...until I realized that my little flame had lost his erection.

Oh, I remember his eyes looking up at me! His eyes seeking love and acceptance. But our shames crossed and we got entangled in them. In the sea of MY SHAME around what I thought was him losing interest or me not being good enough to keep his arousal, HIS SHAME around the way his erection was performing was lost on me.

I remember him saying that he wanted me so badly that he felt nervous. (cry! cry! sob! How could I have missed that???) And all I heard was the voice in my head saying "It's your fault, Jessica. You aren't good enough. Now he sees what you really bring and he doesn't want it. He can't even keep it up for you! Cut ties and run before the shame of this moment becomes too much to bear."

And so I did. I told him everything was ok. "It's fine....really. I understand. See you later?" And that was the last time we kissed or held one another or spent any appreciable time together. I was ashamed...and now I see that he was too.

Erectile Dysfunction, or ED, is the inability to get or maintain an erection. ED is rarely a symptom of a medical condition and is far more commonly psychological in nature. Things like pressure to perform or not having emotional safety are often at the root of ED. Another big one is not hitting the mark on CORE DESIRES (or the unique feelings that escalate our arousal in sex) and not feeling comfortable consensually leaning into or asking for what turns you on.

Men put an enormous amount of pressure on their bodies, especially around their sexual performance. It's cultivated and encouraged in our society for men to always be sexually capable and competent. When a man's erection doesn't show up wide-awake and on time, this is in conflict with what society has taught him SHOULD happen, triggering the shame and anxiety spiral, which in turn, further complicates the situation.

Let me shout it on-high:

Up and down and all around...Erections are not an on-demand kind of thing. They can be friendly dogs that stand up to please whenever a willing

partner shows up. They can be mysterious cats that come to you on their own clock and hang out for a while... and then bolt for no reason. They can be birds...landing for few moments here or there. They are all beautiful and healthy and natural expressions of the erotic!


And connection and intimacy and deep sexual fulfillment are also NOT DEPENDENT ON ERECTIONS! I hate-to-love-to break it to you...erections are not the center of the sexual universe. They are a part, for sure, but there are literally 1001 OTHER WAYS TO ENGAGE SEXUALLY that do not involve erections.

I wonder what my life would have been like if I had known all those years ago that the gentle decline in my lover's erection was not a personal judgement against me or the way I showed up in sex, but instead was affirmation that I mattered enough to him that he felt pressure to be a good lover to me (like he was trying to tell me).

Or what would have happened if he was knowledgable and confident enough about ED and its causes that he could help me put my fear aside and come back into connection with him. My bet is we could have had at least a few good years exploring our capacities between the sheets (and other places too, to be sure). At the very least, we might not have been so bowled over with shame that we couldn't even be in one another's lives.

If you are reading know who you are. I love you.

*To be clear... about the shock-grabber I used at the beginning of this post : I abandoned the cultural myth of "true love" or "the one" many moons ago (although I do delight in role playing that vibe:). And more importantly, I absolutely, 100% align with my choice to partner with my partner, Eric, who every day builds, connects, protects, shares, explores, shows up, supports, repairs and sits in disappointment alongside me. I LOVE THAT GUY.

*EXTREMELY IMPORTANT - If you or some one you know is unable to get an erection under any circumstances, even in masturbation, make sure to see or have them see a doctor as complete and total ED can be a sign of a serious heart condition.

Joy. Ease. Pleasure.

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