For years I have written about women closing down sexually. I'm kind of known for it.
But men close down too. We all do - it is not necessarily gender-specific.
It's just that men usually have naturally high testosterone, rising by 800% in a boy's teens, which makes him highly sexually driven, also given that it is his dynamic pole, in a Tantric sense.
Testosterone can remain high until his 50's - 60's and still quite a reasonable level into his 70's, as long as he is healthy.
But some men find that they have absolutely no drive for sex and no erection at all, even at younger ages - 30s-40s. And the heartbreaking thing is - like women, they don't want to be closed. Here are some of the reasons I've observed in my practice and retreats over the years that have contributed to the loss of desire or erection.
1. They have been rejected enough times, over years sometimes, that they close their desire down - yes you can do that with your emotions. The hurt and rejection just close the body energy down. He just accepts that this is it. The thing is that he pulls back, way way back, away into his cave. And once he has retreated, drawing him out can be quite a difficult affair without support. His heart is not so easily available. His presence is no longer available and it can be excruciating for the partner to be in the relationship, feeling alone and sometimes abandoned.
2. Long-term porn use - resulting in a desensitised body and penis. In this case, the only way that an erection can be felt is through high stimulation, high excitement, and visual imagery, leaving him also absent in the whole sexual encounter in a partnership. But overstimulation leads to a complete lack of feeling - numbness.
3. Religious upbringing - can result in a boy and man being confused about his strong urges and send him on a path of sexual addiction using porn as a safe place, but feeling like it is a 'sin' to have sex with a woman. Here is a great article on this written by a man.
4. An avoidant attachment style - meaning, he is more comfortable being on his own - he likes to have you around, but he needs tons of 'me time'. He is afraid of and appears incapable of real intimacy. This stems from being overwhelmed by caregivers in his early life, with a subconscious fear that caregivers are not reliable and intimacy is a dangerous thing.
5. Compromised Male Vitality - he has had so much stress in his life or has an energy profile of anxiety or depression. This often can lessen sexual desire as vitality is pulled to the kidneys and adrenals to survive. As men grow older, a lack of vital health can affect their hormones, causing erection issues.
6. His female partner is too pushy or too masculine or has a higher sex drive than him. The female has taken over the male role in the relationship dynamic. Men feel pressure to perform and to please. He wants to fulfill her needs but feels inadequate as her demands rise over time. Because men also have a strong 'provider' drive, the pressures of both providing and of meeting another's sex drive can become overwhelming.
7. Sexual abuse, abuse, and trauma at any age can affect a man's presence and ability to stay in the sexual exchange. When things get close or more intimate, he can often go into his head because he has dissociated from his body. Being 'in' the body is too confronting. There are too many unmet, unhealed and frightening feelings in there - such as anger, rage, grief, sadness, and fear, not to mention shame.
So you can see that this is a very real thing.
If this is you or you have a partner in this predicament, and you want to grow your relationship, these are my suggestions:-
1. Stop attempting to make love and relax together. The body and psyche sometimes need to be reassured that it's ok. That love comes in all forms, not just the sexual act. Relaxation is the number one thing a man needs to be able to find a new pathway to feel like making love again and have a healthy erection. And this can take time. So it is a time for patience, but know that the dynamic force in man, resides in his genitals. This is the natural life energy or force that moves and has direction. This 'force' is actually always there, erect or not.
2. Create time for more 'presence' - eye contact, holding, melting hugs, really connecting in an authentic way. On the face of it, this might not seem at all like the excitement of conventional sex, may even seem boring but it is what helps bridge that gap and estrangement. I've seen it over and over again, time after time.
3. Stop pressuring him. Performance anxiety is a very real thing for guys. Back off and come back into your own body. And your heart. Look at the deeper needs that are not feeling fulfilled and that most likely, are rooted in feelings of being unloved from childhood and do some inner work to fill that hole.
4 An anxious attachment style. It's highly likely that you are a more 'anxious attachment style', meaning you focus intensely on keeping others close, there's hypervigilance about whether they will stay or leave. This often stems from having caregivers that were on-again, off-again in tending to their child. The child doubts whether their needs will be met so is always looking for cues and clues about whether they are 'safe' or accepted. Sharing with your partner in a non-blaming way, from this perspective, that their distance creates more anxiety in you (because of your internal experience as a child), and that you need more connection and reassurance. Let him know you understand he needs distance and that you are willing to allow that and in exchange could he please consider pacifying your anxiety by making an effort to create more time of connection with you.
5. Make this about Love, not sex. Learn more about the Attracting Force of the Feminine. And that the feminine is the receptive aspect. It might require some patience. This can be a really hard journey for some women. But the secret is to soften, not harden. To receive, not force.
6. Be gentle with him. Encourage him. Reassure him. Criticism will only make him dig his hole deeper. He probably doesn't want to be like this but he doesn't know how not to be. If he is an avoidant type, then safety and reassurance are what will open him up more to being vulnerable.
7. Finally, set aside plenty of time for loving that is not rushed and has no goals.
The sticky thing is, that nature is always trying to find a balance. So it is common that, male or female, whoever is avoiding intimacy, usually attracts someone who is overly needy, who craves intimacy. The key is for each person to understand the deeper causes. It's actually not all about sex, it's about our drivers, what is motivating us to 'survive' in our world, according to our early childhood attachments. So whether we are one who avoids intimacy or craves intimacy, there is a possibility, if you look below the surface of the symptoms of this, to the origin and understand each other from that perspective, then within the relationship, there's a possibility for us both to heal.
And if it's an option to carve out some time in your schedule and set aside 6 days and nights to come to The Making Love Retreat, or read a book. There really is a lot of support out there. Feel free to contact me with any questions at email@example.com