Talking about ED with a new partner
Starting a new relationship is exciting, whether you’re 18 or 80 – the butterflies in your stomach, the passion in your loins. There may come a time when you decide to take your relationship further and be sexually intimate. Living with erectile dysfunction (ED) can add a layer of needless anxiety to your first-time with a new partner.
When should I tell them? How do I do it? Do I have to tell them if I have a treatment that works?
There’s no right answer to any of these questions. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you do decide to talk about it, these tips might be useful.
Pick the right place
Time and space are often needed to process important or new information. Noisy buses, dinner parties and public places aren’t ideal for these conversations.
Choose somewhere you both feel comfortable, ideally away from the bedroom. Make sure there’s enough time to talk about it if you both want to, and enough space for each of you to be alone if that’s necessary.
Choose your words carefully
Your partner needs to understand what you’re talking about, and you need to use words you’re comfortable with. Euphemisms can help you feel less embarrassed, but avoid awkward and obscure phrases. Saying, “The good ship Johnson has trouble with the mainsail” isn’t going to help your partner understand what you’re trying to say. Equally, don’t feel you have to use purely clinical terms like “erectile dysfunction” if you’re not comfortable with them. Use clear words that you’re at ease saying.
You could try: “sometimes I have trouble rising to the occasion in the bedroom” – “it can be tricky for me to get hard” – “even if I really want to, my tackle doesn’t always get the message”. Find your level, and practise saying the words on your own.
Share the information you want to
Perhaps your ED is the result of something specific, a trauma, stress or anxiety. You don’t have to go into all the details about your condition at once. Over time, you might share more information – it’s all up to you and your partner.
You could point them towards useful sources of information about ED for them to read around it another time. It takes the pressure off you both at that specific moment.
ED can be caused by serious underlying medical conditions. You should ensure that your GP has given you a thorough check-up to rule out clogged blood vessels, heart disease, diabetes and other culprits. Let your partner know that your ED isn’t indicative of anything more sinister going on . Even if they aren’t a medical professional, it’ll be good for them to know you’re clued up about your health and your condition.
Let them know you have it under control
Knowing that you’re managing the condition can be very reassuring for your partner. It shows you’re in charge of it and that you won’t let ED interfere with your relationship growing. But again, you don’t have to give them all the details about the ED treatment you use all at once. Try simply saying: “I’ve found a treatment that works for me – I take it shortly beforehand.”
Tell them how you feel
Communicate that your physical condition isn’t directly related to your feelings towards them. Saying you find them attractive, that you care for them, and that they make you feel aroused helps allay that sense that they might be the cause. ED aside, it’s lovely for a partner to hear those things, and is a gentle way of rounding off the conversation with positive sentiment on both sides.
Remember, sex should be fun and enjoyable. If you think you need help managing your ED treatment, try our free ED assessment, which can help identify treatments that might work for you. The more assured you are in yourself and your condition, the better the sex you’ll have – confidence is a big turn on.