What's the Link Between Erectile Dysfunction and Affairs?
Extramarital affairs can be difficult to live through and an even more difficult subject to bring up over the dinner table and discuss.
For some partners, it's their worst fear: a marriage-ending act with permanent ramifications. Yet for those partners engaging in the affair, infidelity might be nothing more than a simple sidestep into some short-term thrills that offset issues in their primary relationship.
But the situation might not be as simple as one partner straying for irresponsible fun. Relationship experts are discovering affairs are much more complicated. In some cases, indications are that—at least in part—affairs are happening because of male sexual dysfunction.
To define our terms, according to the Mayo Clinic, sexual dysfunction is any persistent, recurrent difficulty with sexual response, desire, orgasm or pain.
How does sexual dysfunction contribute to affairs?
Marital infidelity is one of the top three reasons couples get divorced. Research indicates that stressful jobs, a longer primary relationship span and high amounts of family conflict may also be contributing factors.
While there are many potential reasons leading to infidelity, there is evidence that points to sexual dysfunction in men as one more.
It may be the causes of sexual dysfunction, rather than the effects, that are the major influences for men to consider cheating on their partners. Research from the University of Guelph in Canada finds that men with sexual performance anxiety are more likely to stray from their partners due, in part, to fears they aren't contributing sexually to their relationship.
In other words, men may be sabotaging close relationships out of fear of inadequate sexual performance.
What does the research say about why men cheated on their partners?
Some numbers in this study were also startlingly high, such as: Out of the 506 men in the study, 23 percent reported cheating.
When faced with a difficult obstacle to intimacy, men who become nervous about their sexual performance may feel shame, which they are unable to express to their partners. They then act out the shame through infidelity.
Extramarital affairs are obviously an extremely unhealthy way to cope with any form of sexual disorder, especially when there can be disastrous consequences for everyone involved.
The best way to resolve sexual dysfunction is through sex therapy, exploring treatment options and maintaining open dialogue and physical intimacy with your spouse or partner.
How can you avoid infidelity (and alleviate erectile dysfunction)?
The numbers don't lie. Love is cited by the Pew Research Center as the No. 1 reason people choose to get married. Though some married people drift apart from each other over time, most couples get divorced for solvable reasons such as communication difficulties or cheating.
Experts maintain these issues are preventable, and if they happen, they're even resolvable.
Whether a married couple is looking to resolve an affair or prevent one, psychologists recommend focusing on the positive aspects of your primary relationship as time goes on.
In fact, it's believed to be part of the glue that keeps people in successful, long-term relationships.
The bottom line
It's important to remember sexual dysfunction, regardless of the form it takes, is a manageable medical condition. Talk to your doctor about treatment options and be proactive in working alongside your partner to manage the condition.
By trusting in your spouse or partner, and putting in extra time and effort toward keeping your intimacy and healthy communication thriving, living with sexual dysfunction doesn't have to result in an affair.