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‘I hate his erectile problems’

THE PROBLEM ‘Hello, Christine. I’m Serena. I’m a social worker and I’m 33. I’m dating Andy, who’s a dentist. He got divorced a year ago. I have also come out of a long-term relationship – just six weeks ago.  One of the reasons I split from my ex was because the passion had died. So I was keen to get into another relationship and make up for lost time. Unfortunately, Andy can’t keep his erection when he has intercourse. So, he uses Viagra. I hate it because our sex life feels unspontaneous and artificial. Can you help?’ 

Christine: Has he explained why he uses Viagra?

Serena: His ex-wife is a successful business woman. Apparently, when she wanted to get pregnant with both their children, she worked out a schedule of when it would be ideal to give birth – to fit in with her work. This meant that she used to demand that he make love to her on the days she wanted to conceive. He felt  pressurised and nervous, so he started to use Viagra. And now he’s frightened of not using it.

Christine: Can he keep an erection if he masturbates?

Serena: Ooh, I couldn’t possibly ask him that.

Christine: Is the sex good when you do have it?

Serena: It’s OK.

Christine: You don’t sound very enthusiastic.

Serena: Don’t I? Perhaps I’m not.

Christine: It sounds like Andy has had a lot to cope with. I think often women don’t understand how devastating it is for a guy if he has erection problems. And I can just imagine that his sexual confidence was zero by the time he got out of that marriage.

Serena: You’re probably right. But it doesn’t help me much.  

Christine: What’s so terrible about the Viagra?

Serena: After he takes the pill, it takes a good hour to become effective, so you can never just have sex when you want.

Christine:  But lots of people work around that. Some couples find it quite exciting to plan for sex and to perhaps have some light food, and maybe a glass of wine and spend an hour or so chatting and being romantic first. Very many individuals are enormously grateful that Viagra was invented so that they can have a love life which includes penetration and intercourse.  Before 1998, they couldn’t have enjoyed what they now have.

Serena: I wish I could feel grateful, but I don’t.

Christine: I can’t help wondering, Serena, if the erection difficulty is the only problem here.

Serena: What do you mean?

Christine: You haven’t said whether you love Andy, or even like him. And it just seems like you’re almost angry with him …

Serena: I think I do feel angry.

Christine: What do you think the anger is about?

Serena: It’s hard to say.

Christine: Do you have any idea?

Serena: Well, maybe … I suppose, because I’m a social worker, I spend my life sorting out and fixing people. And now I feel like I have to try to fix him. He says he may get more confident and not need the Viagra. But I can’t help feeling that he’s rather weak and pathetic. And then I feel angry.

Christine: Sounds like you feel cheated. Your last relationship was not very passionate by the time you ended it, and this one has embroiled you in a significant sex problem.

Serena: Perhaps I do feel cheated. I just want some fun.

Christine: Can I come back to whether you love or even like Andy. What are your feelings?

Serena: Well, we met on an internet dating site, the week after I’d split with my ex. Some of the men on that site seemed slightly weird. But Andy was reasonable-looking and a professional guy …

Christine: So, he ticked certain boxes?

Serena: Yes.

Christine: You haven’t mentioned whether the two of you have similar interests, whether you laugh together, or whether you get on. So, I’m not clear what this relationship has going for it.

Serena: Well, when you put it like that, neither am I. Perhaps the reason I don’t want to be bothered with helping him with his problem is because I don’t see a future with him.

Christine: Don’t you see a future with him?

Serena: I don’t think I’d thought about it before. Maybe I just felt that I wanted another boyfriend. My ex got a new girlfriend almost as soon as we broke up.

Christine: Were you upset about that?

Serena:I was, actually. I thought he’d become seriously dull. And there he was with a new partner and I didn’t have one.

Christine: So maybe you felt that Andy boosted your morale.

Serena:  I sound really nasty. I don’t mean to be. To be honest, I don’t think I do like Andy very much. We’re very different. I think I was assuming that it was his sex problem that was causing all our difficulties, but now, talking to you, I wonder if his erections are the least of it.

Christine: Look, Serena, you’ve only recently got out of a long-term relationship. That’s never easy. Plenty of us have looked around for a quick replacement when that has happened to us. But often we need more time alone.

Serena: My best friend said it was too soon.

Christine: Sometimes our friends see more than we think! What do you think you should do now?

Serena: Well, for a start I’m not going to worry about the Viagra anymore. I can see I shouldn’t be in this relationship anyway. I’m just amazed that I came to you with one problem, and uncovered a completely different one.

Christine: That can be a surprise, I know. But, if it’s any consolation, it happens in therapy all the time.

Serena: I’m glad you told me that, Christine. I don’t feel such an idiot. Thank you.

Christine: You’re not an idiot, Serena. You’re just human.

christine_webber-33Christine Webber is a former TV news presenter. Since 1995, she has been an award-winning health writer. She is also a psychotherapist with a practice in Harley Street. She holds diplomas in integrative psychotherapy and cognitive behaviour therapy. And she also has numerous coaching qualifications.  Christine is the author of 12 self-help and therapy books.  Find out more at

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