Within the relationship between a man and his closest friend, there often arise some difficulties. I am not writing about the relationship with his romantic partner, instead I am writing about the relationship with his penis; which defies female understanding because there is no female equivalent. For most men, his penis is his best friend and his special tool, which defines his emotional and masculine identity.  It is his sexual power and his masculine obligation.

Just after conception, we all begin life as female; becoming male means an added chromosome and increased testosterone. For our entire life, as men, we depend upon our penises to uphold and reinforce this one all-important distinction…that we are not women!  The possession of a penis, how it well works and how often it is used, determines a man’s emotional and masculine success. For men this is a big deal! From a practical perspective, a penis is nothing more than a seed-planting tool, but from a man’s perspective it is a marvel of engineering, worthy of fondling, holding, and displaying so long as it works. If a penis doesn’t work, a man will feel deep shame, inadequacy and emasculation. The penis defines the gender.

    In the relationship between a man and his penile friend, there may develop some tension due to unrealistic expectations. Good sexual performance is ever threatened…by lack of ejaculatory control, lack of an erection when needed, or incomplete joy and satisfaction of his female partner.  Men tend to have the expectations that their penises should work perfectly under all circumstances, on demand, with machine-like precision; without fail, to completely fulfill the call of duty. The failure to live up to this ideal displays weakness, which undermines the strength and power of the masculine ideal. Each man would love to have greater control over his penis’ responses.

    This, for you women trying to understand your man, is the masculine ideal, and is without regard to your needs or expectations. This unrealistic ideal gets men and their penises into trouble.  Missing from most men’s calculations when it comes to expectations of sexual performance are the strong influences of emotions, relationship factors, energy level, health issues, and pre-occupations.  While aging, all of these factors have an increasing impact on a man and his penis. As much as each man wishes for complete mechanical perfection, his penis teaches him as he ages that he cannot be a machine and that in some good ways, he is more like a woman than he would like to admit.

    A man must learn that he cannot ignore his emotions; that closeness, sharing and openness with his partner are essential for really good sex; that patience is a virtue, and that good sex is best attained when control and power are shared. In doing so a man may avoid the dire consequences of failed sexual performance, which even Viagra will not completely correct. The instances when his penis has failed to perform up to his expectations represent moments of greatest masculine fragility, but also of potential for masculine triumph if he adapts by enjoying a close and pleasuring encounter without reliance on his primary tool.  From a penis’ perspective, aging means softening erections, intermittent faded erections and slower response times,  all of which to a man demonstrate weakness.  If the acceptance of aging occurs gracefully by lowering his expectations, a man is less likely to find himself ensnared in the demoralizing cycle of performance anxiety.

   A warning to the female partner: reacting with harshness or ridicule to her male partner’s performance problems is committing sexual suicide.  Nothing but loving patience and support will be beneficial.  An older male partner has greater potential to be a more patient, creative, attentive and sensitive lover who values slow, sensuous love-making and who has greater availability for an emotional connection. Such are changes which many female partners will welcome. The upside, here, is that sex has the potential to be more full and connecting, even if less Olympic. Andrew Aaron, LICSW

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