Relationship Issues Causing Erectile Dysfunction May Stem from ‘Partner Betweenness’

September 2, 2011 by

Many relationship issues, health problems, and psychological factors can contribute to erectile dysfunction, but a recent study found a connection between erectile dysfunction and a situation called “partner betweenness,” which occurs when a wife or girlfriend has a stronger relationship with her partner’s confidants than he does. The correlation is strong: A man whose partner has more contact with his confidants than he does is 92% more likely to have trouble getting or maintaining an erection.

The sociologists at Cornell and U Chicago who led this recent study believe that this phenomenon undermines feelings of autonomy and privacy. Since these concepts are central to feelings of masculinity for many men, it can lead to relationship issues, cause conflict, and affect partner satisfaction and attraction.

Relationship Issues May Be Resolved By Giving Your Partner More Space

What does that mean for your relationship? Should you stop all contact with your mate’s friends? Definitely not! In my experience as a Portland marriage counselor, I’ve seen that shared friends can actually be a great support for a relationship and help you feel more like a couple. Having a good relationship with your husband or boyfriend’s friends is a good thing!

But it does mean that you might want to give your partner more space with these relationships. Just like many women enjoy a “girls’ night out,” encourage your spouse to go out for a night on the town with the boys. And respect his privacy. Allow him to have his own “best friends.” If you are both confiding in the same people, especially if you are discussing relationship issues, it may make him feel less comfortable being honest and open with his friends. Find your own friends to confide in.

Above all, communicate with your partner. Ask him how he feels about your friendship with his buddies, and define some boundaries you are both comfortable with. If you still find yourself struggling to understand how to give him space or have trouble getting him to open up about the matter, consider talking to a Portland marriage counselor about your relationship issues.