Men and Pals and Lovers

Male sex life suffers if partner is ‘too close to his friends’
Middle-aged men are more likely to have a poor sex life if their wife
is close to their friends because it undermines their masculinity, a
study has found.

Male sex life suffers if partner is ‘too close to his friends’
The study found partner betweenness undermines men’s feelings of
autonomy and privacy, which are central to traditional concepts of
masculinity Photo: ALAMY

3:00PM GMT 17 Jan 2012

Researchers concluded that the social networks shared by men and their
female partners could have a link to erectile dysfunction.

The study, from Cornell University, found that in middle aged and
older men, when the woman gets on better with his friends than he does
his sex life suffers.

The phenonomon was dubbed “partner betweeness”, in which a romantic
partner comes between a man and his friends.

Prof Benjamin Cornwell, who led the research, said: “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.

“There is a bit of a gate-keeper aspect that probably troubles some men.”

The study found partner betweenness undermines men’s feelings of
autonomy and privacy, which are central to traditional concepts of
masculinity.

This can in turn lead to overt conflict or problems with partner
satisfaction and attraction.

The authors said there was nothing wrong with the wife organising most
of their social activities because females tended to be more
organised.

But they added that reducing a man’s contact with his friends to the
point that a couple only socialised together was not healthy,
suggesting that so called “boys nights” could, in fact, be a good
thing.

“They key issue is whether it reduces his contact with his friends
while it increases hers, for example she alters his social schedule to
the point that his contact with his friends increasingly occurs in the
context of couple’s dinners,” he said.

“A man’s ability to play a round of golf or to have a few drinks with
a friend who has only a passing acquaintance to his wife or girlfriend
is crucial to preserving some independence in everyday life.

“If he has to bring his wife along every time they meet, or his wife
starts monopolising that friend, that’s when problems may arise.’

The team used data from more than 3000 people aged 57 to 85 to make
their findings, reported in the American Journal Of Sociology.

Prof Edward Laumann, of the University of Chicago, who was also
involved in the study, added: “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.

“He needs to have someone to talk to about the things that matter to
him, whether its football, politics, what car he is going to buy or
worries about his health or his job.

“The important thing is that he can let it all hang out and know that
what he says isn’t going to get straight back to his wife.”

The researchers analysed data from the 2005 National Social Life,
Health and Aging Project, undertaken in Chicago.