How I Talk About My ED
When you live with erectile dysfunction, figuring out when to tell potential partners about it—or whether to tell them at all—is one of the most stressful parts of dating. For me, disclosing my ED can be more stressful than the chance of actually experiencing it during sex. Telling someone too soon runs the risk of creating the wrong impression; waiting too long creates the risk of embarrassment during that first sexual encounter.
I’m not pretending to have all the answers, but I do have some positive history with handling this sensitive situation. In my experience, it’s always best to be open and honest, and it’s better to do so sooner rather than later. How soon is that? That’s a personal call. But here’s how I tend to navigate these murky waters.
Broaching the subject
It has been my experience that women are very understanding about this, especially if they’re in their mid-30s or older.
I usually go through at least one date to get a sense of whether I can see a sexual relationship developing. If the feeling is strong enough and mutual—the mutual part is key, of course—I have no problem bringing it up after one date. I approach the topic gently and I use context clues to know if the timing is right. If she brings up sex in any way, that’s usually a good sign, but it obviously doesn’t guarantee that she’s interested. Regardless, you always need to word your statement respectfully.
For me, it usually goes something like this:
“I’m not insinuating that I expect this to happen the next time we see each other, or even anytime soon, but I do really like you and hope we get to this stage at some point. I just want to let you know that I’ve had issues in the past with performance in the bedroom. I go through treatment to help me with it and I’m hopeful this is the only time we ever have to talk about it. I’m telling you in case we do get to that point and things don’t go as planned. If that does happen, I don’t want you to think it has anything to do with me not being attracted to you.”
I say this with 100 percent honesty: I’ve never had a woman run away from that conversation. Most of the time, the response goes one of a few directions:
- She says thanks for the honesty and changes the subject.
- She says it’s not a big deal, and she has dated someone with this issue before.
- She has questions and wants honest answers to those questions.
- She says you have nothing to worry about for quite some time.
Honesty is best
Considering the weight that’s been lifted off your shoulders by letting someone with mutual interest know about your condition, all four of these responses are wins in my book.
I’m sure some women you date will end up saying, “No, thanks.” And that’s OK. You’re not going to want to be with someone who isn’t open to men with erectile dysfunction. It’s a perfectly valid mindset for the woman to have, but it’s just not suited to men in our position.
In the past couple of months, I’ve told two women about my condition. Neither relationship ended up becoming sexual, but it wasn’t because I disclosed my ED. One woman let me know at the end of the first date that she was very interested in seeing me again. She texted me the next day and asked if I was interested in spending the weekend with her. That seemed like a logical place to bring up my ED, so I did. She let me know it was not a big deal and thanked me for letting her know. In a refreshing twist, she also said it made her excited to know that I was sexually interested in her, which led to a particularly hot back-and-forth text exchange.
In another instance, the woman brought up sex before our first date. She asked me what type of person I was in the bedroom, and we had a really great conversation about sexual histories and preferences. It felt completely natural to bring it up with her, and she let me know that her ex had the same issue. She took it as a challenge, which was music to my ears.
Even though neither of those encounters turned into a sexual relationship, both made me feel more comfortable than ever that this method works.
I believe honesty always is the best policy, both outside and inside the bedroom. When you have something to be honest about, like ED, it’s always best to tell the truth.
*The writer's name has been withheld to protect their identity. Unfortunately, sexual health issues still carry a stigma that makes many people uncomfortable airing intimate details of their lives in public. One of Giddy's aims is to make this stigma all but disappear, and to help create a culture that promotes open and honest conversation about all matters related to our sex lives. We understand this type of shift takes time, and we hope you join us in this pursuit.