When do I tell new partners about erectile dysfunction?
June 3, 2010 2:31 PM   Subscribe

When (and how) do I tell new romantic partners about my erectile dysfunction? How would you react to a guy telling you this?

I've had erectile dysfunction and am on antidepressants that delay orgasm. This does not lead to pretty results when dealing with women who use my physical response to judge their own sexual attractiveness. After reading this thread, I'm convinced that the "open, direct" approach will work best. The "how" as explained there is pretty good. I'm more concerned with the when.

I'm sure there are lots of women who would love to date me (even with the ED), but I'm worried that I will mess things up by bringing this up at the wrong time or otherwise disrupting the timing of things. After the first makeout session sounds like a good idea. But should it be right after or sometime during the next date? Or during?

If we are kissing and I feel like the girl wants to go further (to second base or third base), I find it hard to resist that. One reason is because I really like sex, but mostly that I am terrified that if I don't push things further, she will feel that I am not interested in her sexually, or she will just find everything a bit less exciting and lose interest. I also sometimes feel like I should go for it right now because otherwise I may never get another chance to see this person naked. I have enough notches in my bedpost that I really shouldn't care about this anymore, but I have trouble ignoring this unhelpful urge.

It seems like my options are to bring it up 1. before making out, seem presumptuous and also identify a big problem before someone has the investment in me to see past that, 2. in the middle of making out, which sounds like a total mood-killer and might seem weird too, 3. right after making out, which means that she may have already been disappointed and lost interest from the lack of action if she wanted some, and it's also an awkward way to end an evening, 4. the next date after making out, which might be too late if she's already lost interest, or 5. right before sex, which I think will go more badly than any other choice.

Which is better? Other options I have missed? Specific things I should say? This might seem simple but it is really stressful for me and hard to think about, so thanks for helping me through this.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Well... I suppose it somewhat depends on what you want out of the relationship. If you are hoping for something more than a quickie this could prove to be an excellent litmus test of the character of your partner. Anyone worth spending your time and emotions on should be into creative sex, no? So... if you start feeling that, "so happy you are here" vibe go ahead and tell her. If she walks you haven't wasted your time or emotions.
posted by haikuku at 2:47 PM on June 3, 2010

I did have to deal with it once, and I'll be blunt. It was a dealbreaker.

It's one thing if you've been with a guy longterm and he develops a problem – you don't dump him for that – but it is not a condemnation of a potential partner as hopelessly shallow if she chooses not to embark on a new relationship with such a roadblock already apparent.

I'm sorry, and I hope you find a solution.
posted by zadcat at 2:56 PM on June 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

In my personal opinon, 1 or 2. Let her know that it's not because you're not attracted, but because you have this kind of a problem. If the girl truly cares for you, she wouldn't care. If you're looking for casual sex, then it won't quite work out well...But in a serious relationship, that shouldn't be THAT big of a problem.

My boyfriend and I have a similar problem, but really it's hardly a problem at all. Openly talk about it, and explore how to solve the problem together with your partner.
posted by dustoff at 3:02 PM on June 3, 2010

It's hard to tell much about your demeanor from your post, but it will really help if you can be creative, effusive, and genuine when voicing your attraction to a girl. Your words (as well as your other body parts) can communicate desire way more specifically than even the most steadfast erection. Words and descriptions and affirmations are personal; I think as long as you make your situation clear up front, you can still leave someone feeling like a million bucks.

If you have any talent for this whatsoever, you may well be able to save the conversation until after the first time. Make the first encounter all about her, playfully thwart her attempts to get at your penis, tell her that's for later. If you make an early impression as a generous and attentive sexual partner, then that conversation later on is going to leave her with far fewer reservations.
posted by hermitosis at 3:03 PM on June 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

My ex and I went out to dinner on our third date, and eventually went back to his place "to watch a movie." All of a sudden he got really tense and serious, and sat down on his piano bench and said, "I have something serious to tell you."

Naturally, I thought, "Aw fuck, he's got AIDS."

He said, "So... I was born a woman." And then when my eyebrows raised to the point that they were indistinguishable from my hairline, he said, "Just kidding, but I do have HPV. And I needed to tell you before we were physical because if I didn't I'd get all freaked out and nervous and you'd think I really wasn't into you. Which I am."

Not only was I relived that he was neither HIV+ nor anatomically female, but it was also a good point in the evening when nothing sexy was interrupted by potentially awkward news. I gave him a high-five, told him I have HPV too, and we took it as an opportunity to discuss health histories, our personal philosophies/practices on safe sex, and our most recent testing results.

I also dated a guy with one testicle. He never mentioned that he was missing a testicle. Ever. Even after I had figured it out first-hand. (Maybe he didn't know?)

It was terribly awkward to get naked with him and be blindsided by something like that. Upon beanplating (no pun intended) that particular event with friends, we decided that the best course of action was to simply bring it up before clothes come off with something to the effect of, "So I have one ball. It's a long story that I'll tell you someday, but I just didn't want you to be surprised. And now I want to blow you so let's go, tiger." Any kind of warning would be preferable to nothing at all.

And still a third experience was with a friend who "came over to watch Battlestar Galactica." As I went to undo his pants, he said, "You're welcome to see it and play with it all you want, but if you aren't my couch cushions, you're not going to be able to get me off. I just want to see you come." And then he kissed me again and I decided that if he was content making out and getting me off, I could be pretty okay with that arrangement myself. Really, not the biggest sacrifice I've ever made in my life.

If he wanted to date, I suspect we'd have had a more in-depth conversation about what that meant for our sex life. I'm not sure that I am up for a long-term menage a trois with a piece of furniture. But I'm not ruling it out.

You should tell your date before you get too twitchy and tense and freaked out by the possibility of physical contact, or before the physical contact starts and then you think you're on a runaway train. Barring that, tell her how hot you find her, and explain that her pleasure is what you want to get out of the exchange.
posted by greekphilosophy at 3:18 PM on June 3, 2010 [24 favorites]

People gain confidence as they gain experience, but the women you meet may have no experience dealing with a penis that doesn't get hard. I think many women have no idea -- for instance, do you still enjoy when someone touches you there, or is it better to ignore that area to not bring attention to the ED? I think for a lot of women, the stress of not knowing what to do would be significantly more important than a lack of P-I-V intercourse. Let her know some fun ways you two can enjoy sexy time together, ways that each of you can find pleasure in each other, and that will go a long way toward preventing a dealbreaker type situation.
posted by vytae at 3:30 PM on June 3, 2010

I vote for #3 - After making out.

I think it avoids talking about it too soon, but doesn't leave her to wonder. It's not like instantaneous deviation from her possible pictured sexual progression is that big of a deal, it's going home and worrying about it.

Go as far as you want or enjoy, then while still sitting there, tell her the truth. "I'm super-attracted to you, but I need to be honest, so you don't worry."

Good luck. For me, it not knowing how you feel about me would be more of a dealbreaker than the ED.
posted by mercredi at 3:30 PM on June 3, 2010

Being honest is always hot. My partner has a chronic bladder disorder which means sexytimes is usually interrupted several times. We talk about it, we've worked around it and it's seriously the best relationship I've ever had.

If you're with someone for the first time and you want to eventually have sex with them, I think talking when things aren't really hot and heavy is probably best because your mind won't be so... occupied.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 5:37 PM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

After the first makeout session. I had a guy who let me find out the...*ahem* hard way. Yeah, right in the middle of things I got to figure things out myself. He was ashamed and embarrassed and so was I. And I was kind of pissed he couldn't even bring himself to tell me beforehand. I had no idea how the hell to react.
posted by CwgrlUp at 6:03 PM on June 3, 2010

if you aren't comfortable enough to discuss sexual health with someone, you shouldn't be shagging them. i vote for casual, nonsexy times before the first sexy times.
posted by nadawi at 6:31 PM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, I would be just fine with right before sex, but then I'm A.) not someone who needs your physical response to judge my own sexual attractiveness; and B.) not going to be having sex with a guy unless I'm already sure I want a long term relationship with him.

So by the time I was about to have sex with you, I'd already know you thought I was attractive, because we would know each other well, and I would already know I liked you well enough to be willing to deal with that kind of minor issue. (To me, any quirk that's something that you have no control over is pretty much a minor issue. I only have problems with quirks that people do have control over, like, say, a tendency to cheat on women, or bad tippers, or bad hygiene.)
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:27 PM on June 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

if you have an issue with your erection that becomes obvious or frustrating, tell her that it has nothing to do with her, it's due to some medication. Then move on immediately to telling her you find her unbearably sexy and wow! how it's so hot to [go down on her, finger her, whatever] and then proceed to do so enthusiastically.

This. After my wife passed, i was VERY worried about being intimate with someone new after eleven years. Fortunately, my first time was with someone who had themselves lost a partner after a long time together, and she understood the awkwardness and the problem I had with not being able to easily orgasm (from anything other than actual intercourse) due to the meds I was on.

I've had a policy for years; "If you make sure she has the first orgasm, be it hands, tongue, or other body parts, she's not likely to complain." So far, it's not failed me yet. I've had times when all *I* wanted was to get my partner off, hold and cuddle them, and enjoy the buzz that I get from being able to say, "Hey, *I* did that!"

If you're to the point where the pants are off and the naughty bits are out to play, most likely the other person is also going to be caring and understanding. It's about having happy sexy fun time with the person you're with, not necessarily going down a checklist of "get hard, put tab A in slot B, remove and reinsert as necessary".

Part of the fun may be in creative workarounds for any issues that might present themselves.
posted by mrbill at 8:05 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

Yes, but I think it's important to note that *she* may get off on getting the OP off. And if that's the case, then it starts to feel more like a bait and switch to tell her about his limitations once the pants are off. I'd stick with before things get hot and heavy at an innocuous moment when you can have a frank discussion if that's what it takes for your potential partner to be comfortable with the situation.

I just don't like to be surprised while naked. Maybe that makes me high-maintenance. But I don't do my best thinking while naked, and I kind of resent having to process new information in my all-together. And if the OP is interested in preventing potential misunderstandings and preserving potential for longer-term relationships, then not springing Big News on someone while naked is pretty much the way to achieve that.
posted by greekphilosophy at 8:33 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

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