You’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’…

Name: James
Gender: Male
Age: 45
Location: Canada
During my teenage years I had a few girlfriends and enjoyed having sex with them. There were never any problems. However at around age 20 while still in College I began to experience sexual dysfunction with my partners after the second or third time we would have intercourse. The symptoms were, I’d be horny, have a good erection but a few minutes into intercourse my penis would start to feel numb and I either would not be able to have an orgasm or I would lose my erection. I would also start to feel sexually repulsed by my partner. This pattern continued for the next 15 years as a single man. I thought I was simply easily sexually bored and dealt with the problem by breaking off the relationship as soon as the sexual dysfunction would start and move on to someone new. One night stands and new partners were never a problem. It just happened after we would have a few dates. It also happened when I met my future wife. It didn’t seem to bother her that much although she thought it might be a good idea to make an appointment to see the Doctor about it. After we were married we basically stopped having sex (we weren’t having much to begin with) because it just proved too stressful, humiliating and it had no payoff for me. I started seeing therapists and for the next 8 years I went through 7 different therapists including marital counselors, sex therapists and psychiatrists. Now I have been married almost 15 years and the marriage has been sexless. My wife doesn’t like it but has made her peace with it. I can masturbate with no problems at all and have been told by doctors there is nothing physically wrong with me. But none of the therapists were able to pinpoint what was causing my sexual problem. I have had a few sexual encounters outside my marriage over the years and the sex was great, no problems at all. Mind you none of these “affairs” lasted very long, a half dozen sexual encounters at most. Any ideas what might be causing this inability to ejaculate and inability to keep an erection plus the feeling of sexual revulsion with a partner after two or three sexual encounters?

YIKES, James, you just recounted 25 years of deep seeded psychological problems and you expect me to make an insightful comment in the precious little time I can afford any one of my correspondent. That’s a pretty tall order; don’t you think?

Ok, for all it’s worth, here goes. My guess is that you don’t have a sexual dysfunction at all. But you do have a huge rift between your sexual life and your intimate life. And this expresses itself in the ways you outlined above.

Many people who have difficulty with intimacy can still perform sexually pretty much like everyone else. Obviously the performance thing is not dependent on the intimacy thing. In these cases, sex is rarely more than a mechanical bodily function — get it up, get it on, get it off, the end. The hard part comes when these people try to ground these mechanics in a healthy emotional context.

The fact that you can’t bone the same person more then a couple of times without revulsion, and that you can only tolerate your long-suffering wife if your marriage remains sexless; tells me you need to investigate why you can’t connect sexual expression with intimacy. You exhibit all the classic signs of a sexual dysfunction, but they’re only symptomatic of a much more profound disability. And you’ll never get to the bottom of dysfunctions until you get to the root of your intimacy issue.

When I see a person, like you, in my therapy practice, I try to help my client overcome his/her rift by encouraging him/her to gradually increase the amount of intimacy he is comfortable with every sexual encounter. It’s a simple behavior modification technique. It often is very successful, but most of my clients are highly motivated to heal the fracture in their life. Also, they don’t have a 25-year history of this to overcome.

You on the other hand, don’t seem to be particularly motivated. I can see that you’re curious about your sexual problems, but you’re not making that all important connection between your bodily functions and your emotion capacity. There’s a blockage there that is so ingrained it would be very difficult to undo. It could happen, but you’d have to be very passionate about making it happen and then stick with the therapeutic intervention till there was a breakthrough. This no doubt would involve reversing a lifetime of selfishness and egotism. And I see no evidence that you have that kind of moxy.

Good luck

Hey dr dick! What’s that toll-free podcast voicemail telephone number? Why, it’s: (866) 422-5680. DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!

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