Soft and spectacular: Michael Russer explains how Erectile Dysfunction enabled him and his partner to soar to unimagined heights of intimacy.
Erectile dysfunction is the best thing that has ever happened to my intimate life.
There, I said it. Actually, I say it a lot. On radio, TV, print, online and occasionally gatherings (it’s a great way to quiet a room down if things get rowdy).
If some guy had made the same claim to me just 12 months ago I would have thought he was either insane or on some really good drugs. Being fully and clinically impotent is not something most men are willing to discuss. Or for that matter, even be comfortable listening to others talk about. The way some people react you would think that my “condition” is contagious.
However, my impotence is just a context, a gateway to extraordinary discoveries about true intimacy that I would have never experienced on my own otherwise. It served as the most unlikely of shepherds that guided my female partner and I to levels of emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy most normally functioning couples can barely imagine. In order to fully appreciate how we arrived at such a blissful place it helps to see the state I was in prior to this most unlikely transformation.
Last September, I attended the MKP New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA) weekend feeling pretty sorry for myself. Twelve months prior, I ended a 24-year marriage where the last 11 years were sexless. It was your typical “let’s stay together for the kids’ sake” relationship during which I was essentially celibate that entire time.
Two months after the separation I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. And given that four out of five other members of my immediate family died from cancer, I wasn’t about to take any chances. My prostate was surgically removed that December. Despite the successful surgery, my PSA continued to rise (not a good sign). So, just to make sure, I went through seven weeks of intensive follow up radiation treatments that ended shortly before the NWTA. As a result of the surgery and radiation I was rendered completely impotent to the point not even the usual drugs are effective.
The irony of being struck fully impotent immediately after legally and morally being able to experience sexual relations with another woman was not lost on me. At the time of the NWTA, it had been a full 12 years of not having any kind of sex or intimacy and with the future prospects not looking up at all. And just when I thought I couldn’t feel any worse about my “manhood”, about half-way through the weekend, attendees broke into small circles to discuss sex, sexuality and intimacy—oh swell!
As we passed around a wooden phallus to indicate our turn to share, I couldn’t have felt more sexually inadequate. In my hands it was a ridiculously large reminder of what I thought would never be again. And to add that final dash of salt to my wounds, one of our group shared how he now has two hour love making sessions with his wife.
In addition to extreme disbelief—no doubt shared by the others—all I could think was: “You have got to be f*cking kidding me!” Yet, little did I know at the time, his declaration of extended love-making with his wife portended my soon to be experienced level of such extraordinary intimacy that most normally functioning couples hang their jaws in disbelief.
About three weeks later I met the wonderful woman who is now my life mate. Given that I hadn’t been with another woman for nearly 30 years—and of course, my “condition”—I wanted to start out slow, first as friends and hiking buddies and see what might arise (metaphorically speaking, of course). However, it soon became clear that we were both open to see what was next.
By this time I had pretty much gone through the four stages of loss due to my ED: disbelief, anger, depression and acceptance. Within the context of my acceptance, I was determined to be completely open, transparent and vulnerable about my inability to get hard. So sitting on the couch one fall afternoon, looking intently into her eyes, I explained my condition and asked: “Are you willing to explore other ways of being intimate with me?” At that point some women would have politely excused themselves or outright bolted. Not this incredibly conscious, beautiful woman. Her response was “Yes, of course.”
Now I could write a book—in fact, I am—about what we subsequently discovered and how we discovered it. Perhaps my biggest revelation, however, is that my ED was the biggest gift to my intimate life that I could possibly imagine. Even today, it is sometimes still difficult for me to believe this could be possible.
It turns out my ED gave me the opportunity to slow down as a lover and really focus on my partner instead of taking care of my hard-on. Making love has become an exquisite process, not a goal. And it has allowed me to match my partner’s sexual response profile so closely that we each have mind-blowing intimate experiences every time. Two to four hour love making sessions with my partner climaxing a minimum five times and occasionally six to nine times each session are, believe it or not, the norm.
And no, she is not some sort of Sex Goddess. In fact, she is fully postmenopausal and has never experienced anything remotely like this prior, nor have I. And keep in mind, all this happens with me being completely flaccid.
Research has been shown, time and time again, that most women are not satisfied with their intimate encounters, despite what our male egos tell us. Just about the time most of us issue our last grunt and roll over, she’s just getting warmed up. In fact, one study has shown that 87 percent of women reported using vocalizations (i.e. “moaning”) to boost their man’s self-esteem and “speed things up”. Ouch.
As a result of all this, I have made the choice to define my “manhood” not by the size or stiffness of my penis, but instead on how well I can deeply connect with and please my partner in a context of true emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy. And from that perspective it really doesn’t matter to me or my partner if I ever get hard again. Never in my life have I felt more as a man with respect to my relationship with women than I do now.
We all learn about the primary archetypes during the NWTA: Wild Man, Little Boy, Adventurer, Wizard, King and Lover. I believe many men fall flat in the Lover—yours truly included prior to ED. The biological imperative that arises with an erection is incredibly powerful. When we’re hard, we’re ready and have an almost irresistible urge to “use it. That’s great for making babies and the propagation of the species, not necessarily for fostering deep intimacy with our female partners.
My deepest belief and wish is that exquisite emotional, physical and spiritual intimacy is available to every man and woman who is open to receiving it. And my sincerest hope for the men reading this is that you don’t have to “lose your manhood” to discover it like I did.
Image Credit: Flickr/Brian Smithson