Dear Patrick: As I hit middle age, I am starting to worry about a sexual pattern that I can’t seem to change. I don’t have any trouble functioning with women as long as we are just dating and getting to know each other. I have to confess that dating with the goal of starting a relationship has never been quite as much fun for me as hiring a sex worker. But I do okay in bed until it gets to the point where I start to have feelings for a woman who is in the market for a committed relationship. Once I know we care for each other and it’s time to take it to the next level, I can’t get it up.
I have one sex worker I’ve seen off-and-on for eight years now, and I’ve never had a problem functioning with her. So I know it’s not about getting bored with the same woman or losing the feeling of newness. What the hell is going on with me? I don’t want to be alone for much longer. Being single seems kind of pathetic to me for a guy my age. I ought to be settling down with a family.
I appreciate your honesty in describing a way of living (and making love) that is beginning to distress you. But I may not have any quick and easy solutions for a pattern that has developed over years. That’s a lot of physical and emotional reinforcement! You say you don’t like this pattern, but at the same time, your body is voting to let things continue the way that they are. Changing this could take a lot of self-investigation and a concerted effort to learn how to function sexually within the context of intimacy and commitment.
In fact, I am wondering if you really want an ongoing, non-professional relationship. Some guys just aren’t cut out for being boyfriends or husbands. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a great social life. You can be a good friend to those you love non-sexually. Rather than being a father, you can be an uncle to the children of your friends. Don’t underestimate the value, to a child, of having somebody trustworthy other than their parents who they can talk to about their issues. This can be invaluable to them as they grow up, and rewarding for you as well. Meanwhile, you are clearly able to have ongoing connections with compatible sex workers, and that IS a relationship. Cultivating professional relationships that work for you could be your best option. It isn’t the way most guys live, but there is nothing wrong with it. You don’t have to be “pathetic” or isolated to simply continue. In the meantime, if you want to go on dating, you may meet a woman who is special enough to strongly motivate you to do what you need to do to be with her.
If you read this and shake your head, “No, no, that’s not enough,” let’s see what your other options are.
I wish I could ask you more details about what happens when you are with a woman you are feeling close to, and you can’t get an erection. What do you do? Do you get upset and leave, then never see her again? If so, that may be a mistake. I can tell you that it is actually quite normal for a guy to find that he can’t get it up even if his heart and head tell him he wants to have sex. All couples have to deal with this if one or more of them have a penis. Useful, handsome, and pleasurable as they are, the darn things have a mind of their own. The lack of an erection is not what “breaks” the relationship. What destroys it is how you react.
You can stop focusing on your own body and focus on your partner’s. There are a lot of things you can do to please her that don’t involve penetration with a cock. You can make love to her with your hands and mouth, making sure she is satisfied whether your cock wants to come along for the party or not. Many men find that if they do this, they are able to get an erection because they have stopped worrying about it and lost themselves in the sensuality of the moment. Next time they have sex, it tends to not be a problem.
If it is, there are treatments for erectile dysfunction, as it’s known on the TV commercials. You probably already know about the little blue pill that so many men have taken to save face and get off. It has side-effects, and not everyone can take these drugs, but if you can, it could solve your problem. If you can’t take one of these medications, there is still old-fashioned sex therapy, which is often effective in teaching your body to function in new ways.
It may be helpful to try to figure out what it is about hiring a sex worker that satisfies you. Do you like the feeling of having clear boundaries around the encounter? (I have paid for this act and will be here for this amount of time, then I am done with her.) Do you need the feeling of being able to focus only on yourself and ignore how she is reacting? (Not every client does this; for some, the pleasure of the sex worker is important.) Is it easier for you to have sex with a woman who has devoted herself to it, so you don’t have any shame or guilt about doing something dirty with her? Are you able to ask for sex acts from a professional that you feel weird asking a “good girl” to do? (If so, reconsider; many a “good girl” loves to be naughty.)
Once you have gotten that information, you may be able to use it to make encounters of a girlfriend nature more exciting. It might be necessary to find a woman who enjoys fantasy role-playing. Would it work if she pretended to be a sex worker? If you need oral sex to get a really good erection, can you request that (or some other type of sex) from your date? If it’s the feeling of risk that gets you excited, you will need to be creative to come up with a way to make sex with a non-professional woman feel imbued with adrenaline. Challenging—but it can be done. Touching her in public, saying something naughty in her ear in a restaurant, engaging in dominant/submissive role-play, reading porn or watching it together, dirty talking—all of these things can enhance a couple’s experience.
Finally, I have a piece of advice I give just about everybody who writes to me wanting to change something about their core sexuality. If you want to change your sexual pattern, it is often easier to think of it as ADDING a new behavior rather than giving up or eliminating the old behavior. Trying to shut the door on what has worked in the past can make the uncertain process of learning a new pattern way too intimidating. If you can’t change right away, you can still enjoy what has worked for you in the past. As far as I can tell, you aren’t doing any harm. You sound like a nice guy who has trained his cock to work under circumstances that aren’t helping him to find an ongoing relationship.
I hope this has helped. Feel free to write again if you think I need more information, or if you make progress and want to share what has worked for you. I enjoy hearing from readers who are able to fix their problems. This can help me to get new ideas I can pass on to other readers in difficulty!