For Men: Respecting Your Impotency

When you grow up in a culture that brainwashes you into trying to measure your worth and success as a man by the size and speed of your genitals, it’s very easy to end up feeling terribly humiliated when your partner is ready to go and on your end of things, nothing’s happening. Or maybe a little something is happening, but so sporadically or halfheartedly that you can’t do anything useful with it…or can you?

While men are taught to obsess over their genitals and attach all kinds of meaning to them that they really shouldn’t have, what they should be taught is that erection is controlled by the mind. To be specific, the subconscious part of the mind–the same part that holds all of your life memories. Your subconscious is extremely protective over your being. Keeping you safe is even more important to it than allowing your body to feel good. Your body also cares about safety, but will often sacrifice it for a moment of intense pleasure. If your body ran the show, then you’d be getting instantly erect whenever an opportunity to have sex was on the horizon, because to your body, intercourse feels nice–neurally speaking, that is.

The hitch is that you aren’t just a bundle of nerves and skin. You’re far more complex than that. You are an intelligent, complex being who is simply too deep to go through life grunting like an animal in heat. While your body sees sex as a way to feel good in the moment, your mind has a far more complicated view of sex. Your mind sees sex as a highly symbolic activity that is full of important, wordless communications between you and your partner. Who is on top and who do you want to be on top? Do you like the position you are in or was it forced on you? Does your partner’s touch feel respectful or disrespectful? Is she inviting your input or giving you orders? Are you getting a say over what happens to your body or are you feeling controlled? Is the mood relaxed or tense? What state of mind were you in before things turned sexual? If you were upset, were those feelings addressed and respected or are you feeling like you got rushed into this as some kind of manipulation tactic?

As far as your mind is concerned, your body isn’t the sharpest knife in the block when it comes to making wise choices. If it wasn’t for your mind’s constant monitoring, guidance, and domination, your body would bumble into all kinds of dangers and really end up hurting itself. It is your mind that reminds your body that the last time it tried to pick up a frayed wire, it got a nasty jolt. It is your mind that analyzes your coworker’s body language, detects signs of hostility, and warns your body to soften its facial expression before a fight starts. Your mind is very protective over your body, and as much as it enjoys seeing your body happy, it considers its safety to be far more important. What this means for you is that if your mind detects trouble in the bedroom, it can easily react by shutting down your penis’ ability to get erect.

Forget about the shame issue for a moment and think about what impotency really means for intimate reactions. If you’re limp, you can’t do intercourse. Since your mind controls your ability to become erect, you then have to ask: why doesn’t your mind want you to have intercourse? Why is it trying to block you from interacting with your partner in that particular way? Until you take the time to listen to your mind and respect its agenda, you’re not going to respond to your impotency in a productive way.

When you slink out of the bedroom cursing yourself for being such a loser, all you’re doing is heaping more stress on a mind that is already upset. Your mind controls your ability to get erect. There are exceptions to every rule, but sexual arousal is so psychological in nature, that psychological roadblocks should always be ruled out before you start popping pills or doing heinous things to your anatomy. You also need to give your mind credit for being on your side, even when it’s behaving in a way that you don’t like.

Your mind wants to keep you safe. If it doesn’t like something about the situation you’re in, it will instantly rush to your defense. With sexual intercourse being such a vulnerable, invasive experience, it is utterly asinine to act like men could never have good reasons to want to avoid intercourse. In real life, countless men go through experiences where they learn to mentally associate physical exposure or certain physical positions with the possibility of serious injury. Perhaps in your case, it was a tone of voice, a certain look, a facial expression, or a gesture of your partner’s that sounded the alarms for you. Or perhaps it was the feeling of undressing yourself, the look of the room you were in, or something that was said. Whatever it was, your mind always has logical reasons for behaving the way that it does. Instead of ripping on yourself, you need to start respecting yourself enough to examine the situation you were in when you couldn’t get erect and look at what else was going on besides your penis not performing when you wanted it to. It would also be helpful to ask yourself why you were so anxious to perform, because for many of you, the answer is a lot more complex than just wanting a pleasant physical sensation. Some of you were with a partner who you felt desperate to pleaseso desperate that you were treating your own needs and concerns as irrelevant. Others of you were in a situation where you were afraid of not performing on command, because you have assigned your partner far too much power over you.

Sexual interactions have a way of bringing unresolved issues to the surface, and you can glean a lot of very helpful insights by taking time to think about the details of situations in which everything goes south. One thing that is never going to help is to rack on yourself for not getting hard fast enough or long enough. While your culture and certain dysfunctional people in your life might be treating you like you’re nothing more than a walking penis, there is no call for you to treat yourself that way. You are a highly complex creature who always has a logical agenda driving what he does. Start respecting your impotency as a possible stress signal and stop acting like your mind’s efforts to help you steer clear of danger are something to be ashamed of. When you stop insulting yourself and instead ask “Was something about that situation making me uncomfortable?” you might be surprised at the explanations your mind delivers. But your mind isn’t going to tell you jack as long as you keep assuming the worst about it and complaining about its attempts to protect you. Respect is a critical element of mental health.

Looking for advice? You can submit an anonymous request through the Ask a Question page.