Starting a new relationship late in life

Over the Hill asks:

Dear Dr. Sommers:

Nine months after my wife died, I invited a lady out for dinner. She was someone I had worked with for seven years and a friend of my wife, although younger than both of us. (She was 39.) I respect and like her very much, but found it difficult to get into the routine of asking someone out. However, having taken the initial step it was a very enjoyable evening. We talked until three in the morning. I took her out several times. I don’t recall exactly how many; but anyway, after a time we went to bed. I must admit I was rather surprised in that I did not expect that she would find me interesting in that our age were fairly wide apart.

Things were going great in bed until we reached the point where she took hold of my penis for insertion and I ejaculated. My reaction and feeling at the time? Complete and utter devastation. I guess even humiliation; certainly failure. Here was someone I cared a great deal about, stimulated to a high pitch and disappointed. Since that time I have not on subsequent tries been able to get a full erection and have ejaculated. In this respect I guess it has gotten worrse. How do I feel about the problem? It is the most debilitating thing I have ever tried to cope with. It has badly affected my self-confidence. It has made it difficult for me to communicate verbally with her. It is on my mind most of the time and affecting my concentration at work and my emotional stability – which I think has always been considerably high. Sometimes when by myself I simply break down and cry.

Over 50 and over the hill

Dr. Sommers responds:

Dear Over:

Reaching out after mourning for a loved spouse who died is an act of re-affirmation of the power of love. To function sexually in a new relationship is not easy. You feel vulnerable and have a certain need to prove yourself to your new lover (and perhaps to yourself as well). No such pressures operated in your previous relationship, a long term, good marriage.

It is not surprising that you would feel great desire, and yet experience disappointing ‘performance.’ In fact, after a period of abstinence, premature or early ejaculation could well be the norm, therefore the expected. The more you can learn to relax with your new partner, and engage in sex play, such as kissing, hugging, and cuddling, and sharing of feelings without any regard to having to ‘perform’ with your penis, the more likely you will feel satisfied. The chances are your lover is with you because she cares for you, all of you, not just your penis. Take time to feel good with each other, enjoying each moment in the ‘here and now.’ Don’t judge your manliness by the behaviour of six or so inches of flesh. You have been through a very traumatic time in your life, so give yourself a chance to feel whole again. Be patient, and allow your mind and body to get accustomed to your new life situation and new intimate partner. Healing takes time.

Notice and Disclaimer:

Answers to questions are provided by a qualified psychiatrist/sex therapist on the understanding that these answers provide education and/or instruction, and do not constitute therapy or counselling. Any person seeking counselling or therapy should consult a local qualified professional.