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When a man's partner is too close to his friends, his sex life may suffer
Date:8/8/2011

Researchers have found a potential new source for sexual problems among middle-aged and older men: the relationships between their female partners and the men's closest friends.

A study published Monday, August 8, by scholars at the University of Chicago and Cornell University has found a connection between erectile dysfunction and the social networks shared by heterosexual men and their partners. They describe the situation as "partner betweenness." In such cases, a man's female partner has stronger relationships with his confidants than the man does in effect, the romantic partner comes between the man and his friends.

"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," write sociologists Benjamin Cornwell at Cornell and Edward Laumann at UChicago.

Cornwell and Laumann argue that 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 two studied data from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project, a comprehensive 2005 survey by NORC at UChicago, which included 3,005 people aged 57 to 85. The results were published in an article, "Network Position and Sexual Dysfunction: Implications of Partner Betweenness for Men," in the current issue of the American Journal of Sociology.

Erectile dysfunction, or ED, 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
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Contact: William Harms
w-harms@uchicago.edu
773-702-8356
University of Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

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