“Partner Betweenness” May Contribute To ED In Couples’ Relationships

Editor’s Choice
Main Category: Erectile Dysfunction / Premature Ejaculation
Also Included In: Sexual Health / STDs;  Men’s health
Article Date: 10 Aug 2011 – 10:00 PDT

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It seems that if your girlfriend or wife is better friends with your friends than you are, you may have more problems on your hands than just a rocky relationship. There is now evidence that there is an association between erectile dysfunction (ED) in heterosexual men and strong relationships that may exist between their partners and their male friends.

Benjamin Cornwell, a professor of sociology at Cornell University and Edward Laumann, a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, describe the situation as “partner betweennes.” This is when a man’s female partner has stronger relationships with his besties than he does.

The research explains:


“Men who experience partner betweenness in their joint relationships are more likely to have trouble getting or maintaining an erection and are also more likely to experience difficulty achieving orgasm during sex.”

Laumann says partner betweenness undermines men’s feelings of autonomy and privacy, which are central to traditional concepts of masculinity. This can lead to overt conflict or problems with partner satisfaction and attraction:


“The results point to the importance of social network factors that are rarely considered in medical research, network structure and the individual’s position within it.”

Cornwell and Laumann continue:


“Men who experience partner betweenness in their joint relationships are more likely to have trouble getting or maintaining an erection and are also more likely to experience difficulty achieving orgasm during sex. In general, while the majority of men have more contact with all of their confidants than their partners do, about 25% of men experience partner betweenness in at least one of their confidant relationships. Partner betweenness is a significant predictor of ED: A man whose female partner has greater contact with some of his confidants than he does is about 92 percent more likely to have trouble getting or maintaining an erection than a man who has greater access than his partner does to all of his confidants.”

The two studied data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project (NAHAP), a comprehensive 2005 survey by NORC at Univeristy of Chicago, which included 3,005 people aged 57 to 85.
Erectile dysfunction, is common among men in the age group studied in the NSHAP. About one-third of the men in the survey experience ED, which increases as men age. Health conditions such as diabetes, heart problems and obesity can contribute to the condition, along with psychological and other factors.

The researchers took these sources of ED into account and found that even among men who were healthy and capable of having satisfying sexual relationships, there is increased risk for sexual problems when their partners have greater contact with the couple’s shared friends.

Written by Sy Kraft

Copyright: Medical News Today

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