Buddying up to your man’s friends could make him suffer sexually

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Women who get too friendly with their man’s friends could be thwarting his sex life – and presumably her own. Researchers say middle-age and older men are especially vulnerable to erectile dysfunction, from what they call “partner betweenness”.

When a woman becomes a confidant to her man’s friends, it can spell danger. Men can experience ED and even have trouble having orgasms from too much relationship sharing.

Sociologists Benjamin Cornwell at Cornell and Edward Laumann at University of Chicago explain kinship between a woman and her man’s’ guy friends undermines privacy and takes away autonomy – a situation that happens in 25 percent of relationships.

“In general, while the majority of men have more contact with all of their confidants than their partners do, about 25 percent of men experience partner betweenness in at least one of their confidant relationships,” said Laumann, Professor of Sociology at UChicago.

Even in healthy men capable of erection, the researchers found men whose woman gets too close to his male friends are more likely to have a tough time sexually.

Something about partner betweenness undermines masculinity

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The two researchers studied data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. Included were 3,005 people aged 57 to 85. The study is published in the "American Journal of Sociology". Approximately thirty three percent of the men in the study had erectile dysfunction.

When the authors took into account other factors for ED, which included heart disease, older age and diabetes, they still found women who dominate their partner's friends predicted erectile dysfunction. They speculate something about a woman who dominates a man's friends threatens his masculinity.

Erectile dysfunction increases with aging, but in the study, men in their 50’s and 60’s had double the chance of ED when their partner had close contact with his friends. Of interest, the study also showed female dominance of shared relationships declines as men age.

Men in their 70 and 80’s, however, seem to have a different definition of masculinity.

Cornwell said, "Older men’s greater focus on close, kin-oriented relationships increases their likelihood of adopting new definitions of masculinity that emphasize conveying experience and mentoring rather than independence and autonomy, and under these circumstances partner betweenness is less likely to trigger erectile dysfunction."

The researchers say the finding is important for understanding how social networks can affect health – something researchers give little attention. Partner "betweenness" isn't all that, but when it happens, it could increase the chances of erectile dysfunction and failure to orgasm for middle-age and older men.

Image credit: Morguefile

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