NYC Psychotherapist Blog

power by WikipediaMindmap

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Is It True That "Real Men" Are Always Ready to Get It Up?

In my previous article, Overcoming Problems With Anxiety-Related Erectile Dysfunction, I focused specifically on how stress and anxiety can make it difficult for men to get and stay hard and how sex therapy can help with this problem.

Is It True That "Real Men" Are Always Ready to Get It Up?
In the current article, I'm addressing the idea that "real men" are always ready and willing to get it up any time, any place and with anyone.  

Is this true?  In a word, no.

Problems With Getting an Maintaining an Erection Are Common

It's not true because, at some time or another, most men have problems with getting or maintaining an erection.  

It's a common problem that occurs occasionally for many reasons, which will be discussed below, and when it occurs occasionally, in most instances, once medical problems have been ruled out, it's not a cause for concern.

The idea that "real men" are always ready to get it up is a form of toxic masculinity which perpetuates psychologically destructive misinformation for men and their partners. And one of the primary reasons it's so destructive is that the logical conclusion to this myth is that a man who isn't always ready to get it up is "less than a man" or deficient in some way. 

This myth often creates feelings of shame and inadequacy for men and feelings of being sexually undesirable for their partners--regardless of sexual orientation and gender.

This myth can also perpetuate a cycle of anxiety, shame, doubt and fear that can lead to ongoing problems with erectile dysfunction (ED) when ED was never the problem to begin with.

Why Can't a Man Get Hard If He Wants to Have Sex and He Finds His Partner Sexually Desirable?
Men aren't machines so it's not a matter of pressing a button to automatically get their penis hard.

Men can find their partners very sexually desirable and still not be able to get or maintain an erection for a variety of reasons, including (but not limited to):
  • Stress
  • Tiredness
  • Too much alcohol
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Other emotional issues
  • Relationship problems
  • Health concerns like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, poor circulation, prostate problems, age-related problems and so on
  • Financial problems
  • Other related issues
When a man's partner assumes that his problems with getting and maintaining an erection reflect poorly on the partner, this perception compounds the problem even further by creating stress and bad feelings in the relationship.

At that point, a man can feel even more pressure to get and stay hard because he feels his masculinity is in question and also because he doesn't want to disappoint his partner.  

But stress and pressure make it harder to get and maintain an erection, so this can become a negative cycle.

Are There Times When a "Real Man" Just Doesn't Want to Have Sex?
In a word, yes.

Why should wanting to have sex be any different from wanting to do anything else?

If we were discussing a preference for anything else--going to the movies, eating dinner at a particular restaurant, watching TV and so on, it would be obvious that there are times when people don't want to engage in an activity and other times when they don't.  

It's the same for having sex and, once again, it's not a reflection on the man or his partner.  

But, once again, if a man feels pressure because he doesn't want to have sex, he might feel he has to "man up" to have sex when he doesn't want it because he fears being judged as "less than a man" and he also doesn't want to disappoint his partner.  

To complicate matters, many men (and women) don't feel comfortable talking about sex with  their partner because they don't know how and/or they feel ashamed (see my article:  How to Talk to Your Partner About Sex - Part 1 and Part 2).

In addition, even though it's often assumed that "real men" are always ready for sex, many men experience responsive desire as opposed to spontaneous desire so, even if they're willing to have sex, they need time to get sexually aroused (see my article: Both Responsive and Spontaneous Sexual Desire Are Normal).

What If Problems With Getting Hard Are Due to Relational Problems?
There are times when men (and women) don't want to have sex because there are problems in the relationship.  This is a common problem.

It's a good idea for a man to see a urologist or sexual health doctor to first rule out any other health reasons that are affecting his ability to have an erection.  Once those problems are ruled out, the problem can be related to other problems, including relational problem with a partner.

With regard to relational problems, it makes sense that feelings of anger, sadness, hurt or emotional numbness aren't conducive to wanting sex.  

Under these circumstances, couples often need to get help both relationally and sexually from a couples therapist who is also a sex therapist to overcome problems that are creating emotional and sexual obstacles in the relationship.

Getting Help in Couples and Sex Therapy
Couples seek help in couples and sex therapy for a variety of reasons (see my article: What Are Common Issues Discussed in Sex Therapy?).

Getting Help in Couples and Sex Therapy

Sex therapy, in particular, is for individual adults and couples (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?

There is no nudity, sex or physical exams in sex therapy (see my article: What Are Common Misconceptions About Sex Therapy? ).

If you're having problems, rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a licensed mental health professional who has an expertise in both couples and sex therapy.

Overcoming your problems can allow you to have a more meaningful relationship and a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, trauma therapist (EMDR, AEDP, Somatic Experiencing), Emotionally Focused Couples therapist and a sex therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.