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Dealing with sex issues related to health problems

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This topic contains 48 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by avatar london 2 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #691060 Reply
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    London

    Hi-I am a 59,female and finally (after a long marriage,divorce and 3 years of dating off and on) met a wonderful man who is a great match in many ways. We are very compatible and he treats me so well. We have been together for about 3 months and are in love. He is two years out from a serious stroke where he was expected to be in a wheelchair and live in a group home,on social assistance. He used his incredible willpower and mental strength to reject his diagnosis. So,he now has recovered to the extent that he has a good,full-time job,lives independently,drives He uses a cane and has a few other health issues.
    The problem is sex. Ever since the stroke.he has not been able to get an erection,even with Viagra etc. His doctor has said that it might be possible thrugh trying different things and reminded my guy that 80% of that kind of thing can be a mental game. I am trying to understand,that for a man,intercourse/erection is a very big deal. So,though there are many ways to have sex,he is fixated on that aspect and I feel is avoiding exploring other pleasure methods. It sounds like he has never really experienced good sex,even before his stroke. His financial (reduced in general by the stroke,5 months in hospital etc.)is stressful for him too. He does not have a lot of stamina and can’t deal with hot temperatures,so that affects sex too. He is very snugly and romantic,a good kisser etc.
    I am very sexual and am finding this difficult. I believe in sex as a bonding aspect in a relationship and have never been a casual sex person,and he is not,which is good. He says he wants to work on the sexual aspect,get used to being intimately touched etc.,but I always don’t want to have him feel pressure about it either. We try to have frank discussions, but it is difficult and I worry it could be a “dealbreaker” on my part although I love him so much. Does anyone have experience/ideas on how to deal with this? He has been married and has grown children. I understand it will “be a process” but don’t want to get increasingly unhappy and have him feel bad as well-it is painful to feel how upsetting this is to him too. Please help-thanks.

    #691090 Reply
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    dinoceros
    Member

    You said he’s avoiding exploring other things, but also that he says he wants to work on it. Is he saying he’ll try, and then not following through? Is he trying, but at a slower pace than you want? I’m a little confused. Is the issue that it may be a deal breaker for you, or is it that you don’t feel he’s putting the effort in?

    I think there are two issues. One, you need to decide if you are OK with a relationship where you do not have a traditional sex life. Two, if you are, you need to consider what your benchmarks for progress are. If six months from now, he’s not tried anything new and nothing has changed, then what?

    It’s good you have frank conversations. Be sure that when you have those conversations, you are asking about the things that you are curious about. It sounds like you’re trying to be considerate of his feelings, but he also needs to know what you need from him in order to be happy with the relationship.

    #691096 Reply
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    London

    Hi Dinoeros-Thank you for responding. I believe you got to “the thing”-defining what I need from him and finding out,probably through time and patience,if he can /wants to give me that. I am open to try alternative things and do think he wants to try but he is just now getting comfortable with letting me see him naked. I guess,I am confused too,because sex is very important (in context) to me and I am very much in love but this appearing to be a steep learnng curve for him,with self-admitted walls he has up in that area. He is focused so much on the E.D. that he seems to avoid sexual initiation and then I feel bad for him aand sympathetic,but frustrated. I just wonder jf time/patience will help? I believe he loves and needs me and wants to please me,but almost does not know where/how to start. Then,if I am trying start something,I worry that he is not that comfortable and makes me uncomfortable, like I need to repress how sexual I want to be with him. Am talking to a therapist soon,but opinions are appreciated. There are lots of related health issues from the stroke,but most people at the age we are -late 50’s have health stuff to deal with and I am thinking he is the best guy for me in many ways,that I have ever been in a relationship with,love him a lot.

    #691102 Reply
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    Essie
    Participant

    My best advice to you is to take a breath and slow down. I think you’re getting way ahead of yourself, emotionally.

    I know that new relationships can feel very intense, and you can feel very emotionally intimate, like you’ve known him forever, you’re in love, he’s the best guy for you.

    The reality is, you barely know this guy. It’s only been 3 months. You’ve been together for 12 weeks. Not even 100 days. You’re still getting to know him in some very basic ways.

    You’re trying to guess at how your sexual relationship will work out, which is like trying to predict the future by reading tea leaves or chicken entrails at this point. Just live it. See how it goes. You’ll get all the answers you need, with time. You’ll see if he’s going to make a real effort to explore sexual options with you. You’ll see if he relaxes and is more comfortable with you in intimate situations, given some time.

    And maybe he just needs more time…to use a cliche, you probably have stuff in your fridge that’s older than this relationship. He may be feeling a little awkward about discussing such intimate things with someone he’s known for such a short time. Some people need time to really get comfortable in bed with a new partner.

    I mean, we’d all like a window into the future, to know if a relationship will work or not. But some things you just have to live through.

    #691103 Reply
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    Kate
    Keymaster

    “I believe he loves and needs me and wants to please me,but almost does not know where/how to start.”

    A couple things: First, I’m skeptical that you’re actually deeply in love after 3 months. I’m not young, so I get that things move more quickly when you’re older, but you’re still in the getting to know you excitement stage, not the deeply in love phase.

    Second, come on, if you’re telling him that you’d like to be sexual and would enjoy a little intimate touching or some oral, and he’s not even trying to go there, then I think you’re seeing what you want to see. He knows where to start. He’s a grown man who’s been with women before.

    I’m not sure time and patience are going to do it here. I think at 3 months in, what you see is probably what you’re going to get in the intimacy department. I think there’s some wishful thinking going on on your part. And I think as time goes by you’re going to be less and less inclined to talk to him about your needs, because you don’t want to scare him or make him feel bad, and resentment will build, and…

    I guess I’d say use this time (3 months is really the time where you decide if there’s a future here) to really talk to him about this and tell him what you’re going to need. If he steps up, great. If not, I don’t think he’s your guy.

    #691105 Reply
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    London

    Thanks,Kate and Essie-thanks, You make good points. It has been a short time but I really feel he is a much better match in most areas than others I have met or dated and I care deeply for and about him. There are two ways to look at this-be patient, relax and see , or be more realistic that it may not work. I will try to take the focus off the sex for a bit,enjoy what is and figure out what I really need/can live with and how I might get to that to with him or if it is possible.

    #691127 Reply
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    dinoceros
    Member

    I initially skipped over the part where you’ve been together for three months. I think Kate and Essie both make good (but somewhat opposite) points there, and I’m sort of torn between the two views. On one hand, I think because you two have only been together for a short time, you’re both operating on a lot of assumptions. You do or don’t do or say things because you assume he’ll be uncomfortable or are worried about upsetting him, and presumably he’s acting a certain way or saying certain things because he’s assuming what you’ll like or not like or think. I think that where the shortness of the relationship comes into play is that as much as you two care about each other and have talked so far, I think that your interactions don’t sound totally genuine and sound a lot like you’re (potentially both of you) more focused on being polite than actually being honest about what each of you likes or doesn’t like or needs or whatever. You’re each potentially behaving based on how you think the other person wants you to behave, which makes it very difficult to get a good read on the relationship.

    On the other hand, his issues seem to go far beyond your typical ED issues if he’s afraid to be naked in front of you. From what I understand, I think it’s common in relationships dealing with ED for there to be a rocky period of figuring out other types of intimacy and both partners not feeling satisfied and feeling guilty, etc. But what you’re describing sounds pretty extreme. I get being nervous, but if his anxiety is that serious, it’s going to be a LONG road.

    If it were me, I’d be totally honest and say, “Look, I don’t care if you have ED, but the things that ARE important to me are that you initiate sometimes and that you are willing to try other things.” Or whatever. And then if he seems to make an effort in the direction that I wanted, cool. If not, then he’s probably not going to. I think the biggest issue I’ve seen when people have written or talked about stuff like this is that sometimes the partner decides that are not willing to put in the effort to have a sex/intimacy life if they can’t have sex traditionally, and that’s not really something that is sustainable in a relationship.

    #691133 Reply
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    London

    Hi Dinoceros-Thanks for more opinion on this. We have been pretty open but it is a difficult thing to discuss. He has touched me sexually several times and allowed me to bring him to orgasm .(E.D. men can still come/feel pleasure in most cases,something I did not know before) So,even though he is still very shy about his body and sex (for various reasons) he has made progress. Truthfully I am used to men that are very sexual so a guy that is not is just so out of my experience. Even before his E.D.( caused by the stroke)I don’t think he ever had a great sex life-he and his ex wife never had oral sex for example. So,I can see that losing his ability to have “traditional intercourse” is extra impactful. Your/others comments have helped me see that I may have too high expectations so such little time in.and also that he has tried more things than I thought. I believe he does see sex as somewhat “dirty” but again he is getting more used to it and realising that expressing love physically is okay. Lots to ponder-I welcome more feedback as I work this through.

    #691136 Reply
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    Essie
    Participant

    In some ways, you’re kind of swinging between two extremes. On the one hand, you’ve got that new-relationship “he’s it, he’s the best guy for me, he’s better than anyone I’ve ever dated” thing going on, and on the other hand, you’re talking about breaking up because the sex isn’t great right off the bat.

    I’m not far from your age, and though I met my boyfriend over a decade ago, I gotta tell you that relationships take work and patience at this age, because people’s lives get more complicated as they get older. Right out of the gate, you’re looking at health challenges, financial challenges and sexual challenges with this guy. Right now, the sexual issues are front and center, but I guarantee you, there’s more lurking around the corner, because there always is at this point in life.

    Quite frankly, the sexual issues sound to me like they may improve, with an investment of patience and time, as your relationship grows and matures. You mention that he might think of sex as “dirty,” and assuming he’s your age or older, it certainly wasn’t uncommon for people to be raised that way at that time. If he’s willing to work on that, things may improve.

    Or they may not. He may never be as free and uninhibited as you’d like. Since you seem to feel that the relationship has so much promise otherwise, though, I’d give it at least a little more time.

    #691140 Reply
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    Kate
    Keymaster

    I’d say give it some more time too, but try to have some perspective and realize this isn’t love yet, you’re still getting to know each other. And I would not recommend just tabling the sex efforts and hoping things get better organically. I think if you did that, he’d think you’re comfortable without any. You should be gently speaking about your needs and his, and watching for effort on his part to be meeting your needs. He allowed you to give him an orgasm, but is he trying to give you one? Is that a concept for him?

    #691146 Reply
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    London

    Thanks ladies-I get that I am feeling extremes here and that is what is difficult. He has been through many life-altering experiences,mostly related to the stroke. He went from being very affluent ( a bit earlier in life,self-created)and in a powerful job to losing almost everything through illness and divorce. I admire his past achievements and most of all,his determination to recover from his stroke. I don’t care about money and things,but I care that he feels their loss. I have experience in the roller coaster of a relationship-was married for nearly 30 years. So I don’t think I am shallow and unrealistic about the bond we are forming. I agree the whole situation is very complex,yet can be viewed in bottom lineterms as well. I am likely over thinking and need to stay more “in the moment”. The discourse here is very helpful-thanks.

    #691148 Reply
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    Kate
    Keymaster

    I’m not saying you’re being shallow and unrealistic. I’m saying, three months in is just too early to be deeply in love with him. You may be falling in love with who you believe he is, but there’s a lot more to learn about him, and this is not the time to be like, yup, this is it, in it forever. Slow down, stay in the moment, acknowledge that this is a process and not a done deal.

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