I am on vacation for another week. But I've invited Dr. Lori Brotto to handle the Savage Love Letters of the Day. Dr. Lori Brotto is a clinical psychologist and sex researcher at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. You can follow her on twitter @DrLoriBrotto, take part in her studies here and hear her chat about cultivating sexual satisfaction here. Dr. Brotto will be answering your questions all week.
I'm a gay male who has been in a relationship for four years. Our relationship and sex life have been great for the most part, but I'm having some issues with intimacy. I try my best to be GGG and please my partner and fulfill his needs and desires as best I can. The issue lies with masturbation. I have no problem with him pleasing himself, but the issue that I have is that when he pleases himself, he doesn't feel horny and doesn't want to have sex with me. It's such a pronounced issue that I can tell when he jacks off. It changes his sexual aura, and I can literally feel the difference in his personality, and he doesn't want to have sex for days after he jacks off. Like I said, I have no problem with him pleasing himself, but I take issue when it interferes with our sex life. How do I broach the subject and make him realize that when he masturbates, it interferes with our sex life? I want to be intimate with my partner and, I want him to jack off when he feels the need, but I also don't want it to interfere with our sex life and leave me hanging hard and dry.
Boy Over Repeated Erectile Dysfunction
Dr. Lori Brotto's response after the jump...
When solitary masturbation hampers partnered sex and creates problems, it is no longer a private activity. BORED, what does your boyfriend tell you is the reason he does not want to have sex, and do you believe his response? The best way to broach the subject is to couch it in a way that will not leave him feeling defensive. Frame it as a shared issue and not “his problem that he needs to fix.” (I see this all the time in my clinical practice and it is not the way to have your needs met.) Use “I” language-communication experts recommend this because it works! Something like: “You know I adore having sex with you and always try my best to give you pleasure, but I’ve been worried lately about you not desiring me and I’ve noticed that it often happens after you’ve jacked off.” Then wait and listen. And validate him whatever his response. You may have to do this a few times (on different days) if you believe he may not be upfront, and be selective about when you raise this issue—never during a fight, while having sex, or if you’re feeling very emotional in general.
It’s not clear to me from your letter if he loses his desire for sex after masturbation, or if he has trouble getting an erection, or possibly both. With non-judgmental but assertive probing, he may be able to share this with you. Also, knowing whether it is trouble getting it up or getting interested would call for different ways of addressing the problem.
Also, is this a new problem? If so, I’d want to explore what has changed recently for him or between you. If this is a long-standing problem, can he talk about how he feels in the days between masturbation and your next sex session? I wonder if there is any guilt or embarrassment that he’s holding onto and feels he needs to work through before getting close to you again.
BORED, one thing I’m also wondering about is his refractory period—the time between ejaculation and a guy’s next erection. (Readers watching the Showtime series “Masters of Sex” get to see how the refractory period was originally studied by Masters and Johnson.) There is enormous variability across guys in this delay, and medications and age, among other things, can make for a longer delay before they are able to get it up again. You might suggest he see a physician if you’re worried about an unusually long refractory; however, it’s not likely that the long refractory period would affect erections after masturbation but not erections after partner sex, so this is not likely the whole story.
My bet is that with some gentle but honest conversation, some examining of mood or anxious thoughts between erections, and possibly a physician visit, you and your partner will get past this and get back to the great sex you were having before.