Erectile Dysfunction (ED) is the best thing that has ever happened to our intimate life. There, we said it. And, we say it a lot. When speaking to survivors and partners, on the radio and TV, in print and online, and occasionally gatherings (it’s a great way to quiet a room down if things get rowdy). Impotence is not something most men will discuss. Yet when we do, we’ve set up and guilt and shame-free zone to do so.
Michael’s prostate cancer-induced impotence is just a context, a gateway to discoveries about extraordinary intimacy we would have never known otherwise. It served as the most unlikely of shepherds guiding us to levels of emotional and sexual intimacy most normally functioning couples cannot imagine.
Here’s why. In the immortal words of Robin Williams: “God gave man a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to run one at a time.” When men have an erection, the urge to ‘use it’ is quite powerful. This is great for making babies, not so much for deeply connecting emotional and sexual intimacy. This is especially true since most women need more warmup than their male partner.
It turns out Michael’s ED short-circuited that ‘urge’ and allowed him to slow down as a lover and focus on our lovemaking without expectations of performance. Making love has become an exquisite process of being Present for each other, not a goal or expectation of performance. Ironically, impotence has allowed us to match each other’s sexual response profile so closely we now have profound sexually intimate experiences every time.
Research has shown most women’s dissatisfaction with their intimate encounters, despite what male egos tell us. About the time most men issue their last grunt and roll over, their partner is just getting warmed up. In fact, one UK university study has shown 87% of women reported using vocalizations (i.e. moaning) during intercourse to boost their man’s self-esteem and speed things up (as in getting it over with already). We are not making this up nor trying to make any man reading this feel bad. It’s just that male and female wiring is very different regarding sexual response. In this sense, ED has leveled the intimate playing field to our mutual benefit.
Because of this, Michael made the choice to define his manhood not by the size or stiffness of his penis. Instead, on how well he can deeply connect with and please his partner in a context of true emotional and sexual intimacy. From that perspective, it really doesn’t matter to either of us if he ever regains his erectile function. Michael often states on stage when we speak to survivors and their partners that: “…never in my life have I felt more like a man than I do now”.
Erectile dysfunction is not the end of your sexual intimacy. It can be the threshold to wondrous new sexual discoveries that greatly exceed any previous experiences. All it requires is accepting the ‘isness’ your ED without guilt or shame and allowing a mutual sense of playful adventure.