I know I have done something right in my life because I get to write headlines like the one above. I know there is something wrong with the world, because that headline is based on an actual study that suggests that when women are too buddy buddy with their beau’s bros, he can’t get it up. Her platonic transgressions ruin their sex life!
The NYTimes writes,
The subjects were men from 57 to 85, ages when men’s social lives contract, male identity is challenged and erectile dysfunction often sets in. When a partner was closer to a man’s friends than he was, his sex life suffered, say the authors and sociologists, Benjamin Cornwell of Cornell and Edward Laumann of the University of Chicago.
And women thought men liked them being pals with their pals! “Partner betweenness,” the name the authors gave the phenomenon, means that when a man’s wife or girlfriend has stronger relationships with his friends than he does, she comes between the man and his friends. This may occur if the wife is a “domineering” personality who acts as the gatekeeper for the household or with couples where the man socializes primarily with her friends.
Whatever the particulars, the man is more likely to have trouble maintaining an erection or achieving orgasm during sex with his partner. About one-fourth of the men said they experienced partner betweenness in at least one of their close friendships.
It is important to note that while the study was of 57-85 year olds, the corresponding image with the article was of people that look like they are in their late 20′s.
Also, there are so many variables in this study that if were to take it as evidence I could also use it to prove that when women wear the wrong color men go soft or when women talk about furniture too much, he can’t get it up. How did they measure closeness with friends exactly? How do you measure something responsibly that is so chock full of variables, i.e., is the friendship really flirtatious or do they exchange brownie recipes?
Also, there are so many reasons for erectile dysfunction. What if the closeness between the woman and the male friends was more an indicator of the men in the relationships having an inability to effectively connect emotionally with people in general and thereby causing sexual dysfunction? And are the male friends also having erectile problems?
So what’s causing this dysfunction in men according to our “scientists?”
The source of the performance dip isn’t jealousy. The sexual problems, the authors say, are rooted in issues of privacy and autonomy, which are central to male gender identity. But Geoffrey L. Greif, a professor of social work and an author of a forthcoming book, “Two Plus Two: Couples and Their Couple Friendships,” noted that as men age, they are generally less likely to socialize one on one with male friends anyway. “Cross-sex friendships are much more common with younger men,” he said.
Translation: If women weren’t so overbearing with the whole ‘leaving the house’ and getting in a man’s business, a man could feel like a man!
Sarcasm aside, if it is true that younger men aren’t reporting these same feelings as older men–then that’s a good thing because they have gotten used to a world where women exist in public space and are integral parts of their lives. What is frustrating about studies like this is that the conclusions always comes first. In this case: men need independence, when women ruin it and as a result men can’t be Men.
Maybe it’s not women that have to change or socialize less with the men in their lives, maybe it is a society that needs to rely less on antiquated ideas of friendship and romance and fast forward to the way we actually live. (Not sure if you heard but I kinda wrote a book about this!)