Billy Curtis, Sex Columnist

Men have always been obsessed with their penises – their size, shape and even their capabilities to function properly. Freud, among others, made many inquiries and theories regarding the penis, and then there is my personal favorite to witness: the male preoccupation with size that can be seen with every moron driving a Hummer or big SUV to compensate for their lack of height . . . or rather length.

But when function isn’t exactly attainable for the penis during intercourse, it is the partner who is left hanging (pun intended) that suffers just as much – if not more – than the person who is actually dangling with impotence. Luckily, I’ve never had a problem in the erection department, but I can’t say the same for some of the people I’ve dated in the past.

In “Women and Impotence: A Woman’s Point of View About Male Impotence” by Colette Bouchez, Andrew McCullough, director of sexual health at New York University Medical Center, notes that partners tend to take erectile dysfunction to heart: “Women internalize things – they tend to blame themselves first,” and he continues to explain that this is because partners think that it is something they have done wrong, or maybe that their partner no longer finds them attractive.

Generally, though, this is not true. Most cases of erectile dysfunction have nothing to do with the partner, which was something I had to learn the hard way back in 2007.

Mr. Madison, an ex of mine who filled the pages of Broadside during a past semester, was a great boyfriend, but it seemed that after a vacation to my previous home, New York City, all bets were off.

Every attempt at sex during the vacation was a failure, barring one. In the middle of having sex, he went limp, couldn’t explain it and just ran to the bathroom. I didn’t know what to do or how to react, so I did the one thing that I knew would help clear my head.

I went walking around my city and didn’t return until four in the morning. What can I say? If you give me an iPod and leave me to be alone with my thoughts – especially back home – I can easily get lost. When I returned, I was welcomed with fear, confusion and anger. It’s safe to say that Mr. Madison’s problem wasn’t the only one that caused our imminent demise, but it was certainly a contributing factor because he was unwilling to come to terms with what was affecting him. It became such a problem that when we broke up, to this day, I still remember him telling me that after awhile, he felt that sex was almost like a chore. And in the end, he wasn’t the last guy I slept with who would have a problem getting it up.

But who was really the victim in this situation? After coming to terms with his possible dysfunction, I tried my best to help him, boost his ego and make him think that this problem didn’t matter to me; however, I was a bad faker, and he knew me too well. It seemed as though the more I tried to help him, the more he pushed away, so I dropped him and, eventually, the relationship.

A year later when my friend Eric came to me with the same problem, I was more educated on how one should handle this dilemma and, with the willingness of their partner, how to either cure it or learn to live with it using alternative methods. I told him that the only way this problem could be solved was if his boyfriend could come to terms and take it hard on. If he couldn’t, then Eric would either have to make the choice of leaving his boyfriend or learn to live with Captain Limp-dick.

While discussing these situations with my friend Hadley, I wondered why this dysfunction was affecting guys at such a young age. I mean, I know that at some point in every man’s life they will experience some form of ED, but to see it in so many men ranging from ages 20-30 puzzled me. I had to ask myself, would Viagra end up becoming the new drug of choice, and not because of recreational use, but more for the soul purpose of achieving an erection? What could be the causes? Could it be the fact that our generation eats way too much fast food, ultimately destroying our cardiovascular systems? Or maybe it’s a combination of various other cofactors?

And then Hadley made a comment that I never thought about before: Maybe it wasn’t them that had the problem, but rather, maybe it was me for internally and subconsciously picking these men, whom she believed were incapable of dealing with their emotions properly, thus causing their dysfunctional sex events. Was I really choosing men that were unable to deal with their emotions to such an extent that their libido and erections were affected? But how could you even look for the warning signs of a sexually distraught soft shaft?

According to, if you are experiencing stress, it can majorly alter your package abilities. If your partner’s stress level overwhelms them, they won’t be able to “establish enough parasympathetic input to the penis to get the erection in the first place. The result is stress-induced impotence.”

Either way, whether due to stress, liquor, embarrassment, cold conditions – whatever, leaving your partner hanging is hazardous to a relationship’s health.

If you’ve experienced the other side of the erectile dysfunction, then you know how depressed and rejected it can make you feel. Your options are simple: either work with him to solve the problem without coming off as an overbearing partner who wants their boyfriend’s penis back, or end the relationship if you’re that sexually frustrated.

If you’re not going to try and make it work, then your relationship will go limp faster than your boyfriend’s penis. After all, it is, has and always will take two to make a relationship work.