ED: The Best Thing to Happen to Intimacy

intimate sexualityBy Michael J. Russer @ The Good Men Project

Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the best thing to happen to me and my intimacy.

There, I said it. Actually, I say it a lot. On radio, TV, print, online and occasionally gatherings (it’s a great way to quiet a room down if things get rowdy). If some guy had made the same claim to me just two years ago, I would have thought he was either insane or just messing with me. Being fully impotent (i.e. can’t get it up to save my life, even with the pills) is not something most men would be willing to discuss. Or for that matter, even comfortable listening to men talk about. The way some men react, you would think that my “condition” is contagious. 

However, my impotence is just a context, a gateway if you will, to discoveries about extraordinary intimacy that I would have never experienced on my own otherwise. It served as the most unlikely of shepherds guiding my female partner and me to levels of emotional and physical intimacy most normally functioning couples can barely imagine. In order to fully appreciate how we arrived at such a blissful place, it helps to see the state I was in prior to this unlikely transformation.

In September of 2011, I ended a 26 year marriage where the last eleven years were essentially celibate. It was your typical baby-boomer “let’s stay together for the kids’ sake” relationship. Two months after the separation I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Given that five out of five other members of my immediate family with cancer died from it, I wasn’t about to take any chances. My prostate was surgically removed that December. Despite the successful surgery, my PSA continued to climb (not a good sign). So, just to make sure, I went through seven weeks of daily intensive follow up radiation treatments. My impotence was the result of one of these treatment modalities and is not an uncommon side effect for prostate cancer treatment. Sadly, many men die each year from prostate cancer because they avoided getting checked, mostly out of fear of losing their “manhood.” Let me make something very clear right now. I may not be able to get it up but I am fully alive and have absolutely no problem getting it on.

Hardly Broken by Michael Russe

Hardly Broken by Michael Russer

The irony of being fully impotent immediately after legally and morally clearing the way for new sexual experiences was not lost on me. In addition to going through the four stages of loss related to being diagnosed with prostate cancer, I had to go through the same four stages all over again with respect to my flaccidity. The first stage is disbelief. I distinctly remember looking up at the heavens and shouting “You have GOT to be fucking kidding me!!” The next stage is anger, and I had plenty of that (mostly aimed at myself for being so shut down all those years). Then came a bit of depression and finally, acceptance (the most important stage). I no longer fought reality, which opened me up to unimaginable possibilities of intimacy.

About nine months following my surgery, I met the wonderful woman who is now my life mate. Given that I hadn’t been with another woman for nearly thirty years (and of course, with my “condition”) I wanted to start out slow, first as friends and hiking buddies and see what might arise (metaphorically speaking). However, it soon became clear that we were both open to the next step.

With my acceptance, I was determined to be completely open, transparent and vulnerable about my inability to get hard. So sitting on the couch one fall afternoon, looking intently into her gorgeous eyes, I explained my condition and asked: “Are you willing to explore other ways of being intimate with me?” At that point, some women would have looked at their left wrist (whether sporting a watch or not) and said, “Oh my! Look at the time!” Not this incredibly conscious, beautiful woman. Her response was “Yes, of course.”

Now I could write a book (and in fact I am) about what we subsequently discovered and how we discovered it. Perhaps my biggest revelation however is that my ED ended up being the biggest gift to my intimate life I could possibly imagine. I have to say that even today it is sometimes still difficult for me to believe this could actually be possible.

It turns out my ED gave me the opportunity to slow down as a lover and really focus on my partner instead of taking care of my hard-on. Making love has become an exquisite process, not a goal. And it has allowed me to match my partner’s sexual response profile so closely that we each have mind-blowing intimate experiences every time. 2-4 hour love-making sessions with my partner climaxing a minimum of five times and occasionally more each session are, believe it or not, the norm. And no, she is not some sort of Sex Goddess. In fact, she is fully postmenopausal and has never experienced anything remotely like this prior. Nor have I. And keep in mind, all this happens with me being completely flaccid.

Research has shown that most women are not satisfied with their intimate encounters, despite what our male egos tell us. Just about the time most of us issue our last grunt and roll over to go to sleep, women are just getting warmed up. In fact, one university study has shown that 87% of women reported using vocalizations (i.e. moaning) to boost their man’s self-esteem and speed things up. I am not making this up nor trying to make guys feel bad. It’s just that men and women are wired very differently with respect to sexual response.

As a result of all this, I have made the choice to define my manhood not by the size or stiffness of my penis, but instead on how well I can deeply connect with and please my partner in a context of true emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy. And from that perspective, it really doesn’t matter to me or my partner if I ever get hard again. Never in my life have I felt more as a man with respect to my relationship with women than I do now.

Because I am unable to get hard, no matter how turned on I become, I no longer have that overwhelming urge to “use it” as typically happened prior to ED. Essentially, it short-circuited my usual male wiring. The biological imperative that arises with an erection is an incredibly powerful thing. When we’re hard, we’re ready, willing and able—right now. That’s great for making babies and propagation of the species, not necessarily for fostering deep intimacy with our partners.

This is how it happened for me and it may or may not resonate with you. Either way, I totally respect and honor that. My deepest belief and mission is that exquisite emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy is available to every man and woman who is open to receiving it. And my sincerest hope for the men reading this is that you don’t have to lose your manhood to discover it like I did.

This was reposted with permission from The Good Men Project.

Michael Russer wrote this post a few years ago. His book is called, Hardly Broken.

You might also like to read these from The Good Men Project:

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 26, 2015, in men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. An insightful and honest peace about a subject most men avoid. As a man, there are very little times where you are openly willing to appear “less mainly” or not completely in control of your manhood- rarely do those times come, during an intimate sexual session with a partner. Like an issue, illness or disease, the only means of improvement are through research and people talking freely about their experiences. I think there is a false notion that impotence equals no sexual activity or you no longer possess the manhood required to be considered “a man”. Ignorance is often perpetuated by people who refuse to do adequate research and are satisfied with parts of the truth. Getting over being embarrassed about your predicament is usually the first step towards owning and being proud of who you are. Regardless of societies standards and the constant attempts at drowning your confidence, it is imperative you be yourself because you never know who you may be assisting in the process. Allowing yourself the time/space to be comfortable in your own skin, is key for overall improvement and awareness.

  2. Another way to look at ED as the best thing happening in a man’s life is that it can be contributing to a healthy relationship if a man goes through difficult time with his partner’s support. In our society, intimate relationships can be very important and healthy to men because they allow men to loosen themselves and freely express their feelings. Although our society sometimes think that men attached in a serious relationship are “too emotional or vulnerable”, they are, in fact taking a good care of their mental health by showing their emotions and sharing their deep thoughts or secrets with their partners. Sharing deepest thoughts or emotions brings people together, whether they’re friends or couples. And couples that successfully survive difficult time actually receive a stronger bond in return afterwards. And a key to that is exactly what Michael Russer and his partner did-being “completely open, transparent and vulnerable” about their issues and helping each other along the way.

  3. Question for the ladies…

    How many of you would even consider dating a man who suffered from ED?

    • First, only about 30% of women orgasm from vaginal intercourse, so it really won’t make much difference to 70% of us. Who could well enjoy sex way more if men behaved like this guy. Cause women are much more likely to climax from outercourse than intercourse.

  4. I say this …. When you have intimacy, there is 100% chance of a great sex without necessarily having erection ….Just flows a tremendous wellness to both…. 🙂 🙂

  5. Really appreciate Michael’s share and willingness to be vulnerable not just with his partner but with us in his writing. Also really resonated with his discovery that his masculinity is so much more than what he thought it was and how he is finding it in new ways and how intimacy is even more expansive. Great post!

  6. It’s great that he’s with a great women and this helped him know the woman he is with is a keeper. But this post kind of irritates me and is hogwash. I’m glad he’s delusional to like having ed and it’s the best thing ever. But his reasoning is bullshit, sorry but having gone through ed before, but from performance anxiety, not a physial problem, it’s the worst thing ever. I remember the first time having sex and a virgin, having a gf, all excited, finnaly getting laid. and then things not going properly. But then an anxiety riddle person and neurotic person I can be, the next week had a problem and after that. Like some cruel fucking joke by mother nature, finally getting laid but not being able to enjoy sex, That hung over my and it took awhile after having been broken up with gf, not because of that, as things did eventually work with her. But it stayed present in my psyche and being anxious when with a new girl, because of the past issue even though didn’t have any ed issue by myself, actually the complete opposite. That’s why I know it wasn’t a physical problem, but mental and I am a person that can be an anxiety riddled person at times

    Cool she got all these orgasms, but a man can spend time and foreplay and make love even if his dick is working. It happens in relationships or loving ones where the boyfriend or husband loves spending time on her, a long time and then eventually has sex with her, and pleasing her and having her orgasm many ways. Plus even though women get off from oral and prefer the foreplay part, women still like the D a lot and I think really prefer having a good hard dick in them for sex. It’s one thing if he’s just trying a positive spin on it, but not having a boner is not the best thing ever. Then again he was abstinent for a long time, so it sounds like he might be on the lower libido side as a male, which some men aren’t all that horny or sex driven as most or other men. So it’s easier to feel that way compared to a man with a higher or really high sex drive. Sorry I can do all that pleasing that a woman needs with an operating dick, but still use it. I think most men prefer having an operating dick, and not becauss they don’t care about spednign time on their woman, but that there are men who know women want more time on them, but also have their dick ready to perform when it comes and the enjoyment of intercourse the man can feel. That’s awful to not be able to feel the pleasure of penetration. If a genie showed up and said he’d give me a million dollars, but permanent ED for the rest of my life, or I have the $ and job I have now, but fully functioning dick for the rest of my life, you bet your ass I going with the latter. That shit is priceless.

    • Well, ED won’t help everyone. And not everyone needs ED to discover and nurture intimacy. But I thought his experience was an interesting one.

      I recently surveyed my students on how they experienced sexuality and some of the guys said that they were too focused on themselves, and some of the girl said that their boyfriends were too focused on themselves. This man’s experience shows the other side — how much a guy can enjoy sex if he’s not just focusing on his own orgasm.

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