Erectile Dysfunction a with New Partner: Overcoming the Challenge

A man with a new partner experiences ED with his partner

Key Takeaways

  • ED with a new partner is common; underlying factors should be identified.
  • Performance anxiety and condom-related ED are common causes.
  • Alcohol or drug use can contribute to temporary ED.
  • ED medications are usually not the right solution
  • Masturbating before sex may lead to difficulty in getting an erection.
  • Overcoming ED: try mindfulness meditation, consider cognitive-behavioral therapy, practice breathing exercises, and use guided imagery.


Erectile dysfunction (ED) can be a sensitive topic, and it’s not uncommon for men to experience it at some point in their lives. It is estimated that up to 25% of men suffer from performance anxiety.

As a sex therapist, I’ve helped many individuals and couples navigate the challenges associated with erectile dysfunction. 

One such challenge is when this condition is experienced with a new partner, which can create a unique set of complexities. 

In this article, I’ll share my insights and personal experiences in treating patients who’ve faced this issue.

Why Do I Have ED with New Partners?

When a man experiences ED with a new partner, it’s essential to understand that this is not uncommon, and there are often underlying factors at play.

Your goal, therefore, should be to identify and address these potential causes so you can employ the right coping strategies.

Before we begin to dive into what these underlying factors could be, it’s important to remember that certain health issues, such as cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and diabetes, may lead to ED.

However, generally speaking, if you can get an erection when masturbating and only experience ED with new partners, then the root cause is more likely one of the causes I’ve listed below.

You Experience Performance Anxiety

It is very common to experience performance anxiety with new partners or in new relationships. The pressure to perform with a new partner can be overwhelming, and that stress can, in fact, lead to difficulties with achieving or maintaining an erection. 

I’ve seen many men in my practice who have a desire to impress their partners. In fact, many men are so focused on impressing their partners, anxiety creeps in.

Worries about not being able to satisfy their partners sexually or feelings of self-consciousness about their bodies are incredibly common.

Performance anxiety can significantly contribute to ED. When a person feels anxious about their sexual performance, it can lead to a cycle of worry and tension, which can make it difficult to achieve or maintain an erection.

This cycle can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, where the fear of not performing leads to erectile difficulties, which then reinforces the fear and anxiety. 

Performance anxiety is the most common psychological cause of ED.

You Have Condom-Related ED

Condoms are more commonly used in new sexual relationships. The awkwardness of having to stop sex in the middle to put on a condom can make some men lose their erections.

This is normal; however, some men get very nervous when this happens, which causes performance anxiety to kick in.

In other cases, when condoms don’t fit correctly or cause reduced sensation, it can make it difficult to maintain an erection. This, coupled with anxiety, can quickly lead to problems with erections.

Alcohol or Drug Use

I’ve seen that many people use alcohol or drugs to calm their nerves when dating a new partner. In fact, a recent survey showed that only 15% of millennial men do not drink at all on first dates, and the majority of men have at least two drinks.

It is already well known that drinking too much can lead to temporary erectile dysfunction. So, if you drink to calm yourself down on dates, don’t be surprised if you find yourself losing your erection all of a sudden.

You’re Masturbating Before Sex

Some men use the tactic of masturbating before sex to prevent premature ejaculation. The problem is that if the refractory period hasn’t ended, you’ll likely have a hard time getting an erection again. 

This frequently happens in new relationships or on first dates when men are worried about having sex with their partner for the first time.

Ironically, out of the will to impress their partner and last longer in bed, men can set themselves on a sure path for ED.

How Do I Overcome ED with My New Partner?

Take Your Time and Invest in Foreplay

There’s no need to rush with a new partner. Taking the time to build trust, explore each other’s bodies, and establish a sense of emotional intimacy can help reduce erectile dysfunction issues.

Taking time for adequate foreplay can significantly reduce the chances of experiencing ED. This helps ease anxiety, promote relaxation, and increase feelings of arousal and blood flow to the penis. 

By engaging in more foreplay, you can build trust and understanding, alleviating some of that pressure to satisfy your partner.

Talk to Your Partner

Communication is key when addressing ED with a new partner. Be open and honest about your feelings and concerns. Discuss any negative sex-related thoughts, and share your insecurities.

More often than not, your partner will be understanding and supportive, which can go a long way in overcoming ED.

You may be surprised to hear that, most of the time, honesty and vulnerability are all that are necessary to alleviate the pressure to perform. Simply laying it all on the table can make you feel much more comfortable.

Mindfulness Meditation

I have seen great success with mindfulness meditation in treating ED, and I’m not the only one! This 2018 study, for example, showed that 9 out of 10 men with psychological ED experienced improvement after practicing mindfulness for just 4 weeks. 

This technique helps you focus on the present moment, reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation, ultimately helping you regain your ability to get and maintain an erection.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be an effective tool in addressing the mental aspects of ED, such as negative thoughts and performance anxiety. 

It can be practiced with the help of a therapist or through self-help techniques like mindfulness-based CBT. Many of my patients have seen improvement with this approach, and I highly recommend giving it a try.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are a simple yet effective way to manage anxiety and stress, which often contribute to ED. By focusing on your breath, you can achieve a relaxed state, helping to reduce tension and improve arousal.

Although not as well studied as mindfulness meditation or CBT, breathing techniques can be a great tool for reducing anxiety “in the moment.” 

Guided Imagery

Guided imagery is a powerful tool to help visualize and emotionally connect with positive sexual experiences, contributing to greater confidence and reduced anxiety.

It works on the idea that the mind can’t always notice the difference between imagined and real-life scenarios. So, by repeatedly imagining yourself having sex without experiencing ED, you build your confidence back up.

See a Sex Therapist

If self-help techniques haven’t done the trick, it might be a good idea to see a sex therapist, like myself, who could help you explore deeper issues that may be causing your ED. Working together, we can get to the root of the problem and develop a personalized plan to help you enjoy a fulfilling sex life with your new partner.

Talk to Your Doctor

I always recommend discussing ED with your doctor as a first step. They can help rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to the issue and suggest potential treatment options. 


Erectile dysfunction with a new partner is a common issue. It’s important to remember that, while frustrating, ED is a treatable condition.

Remember, ED is not a reflection of your worth or abilities – it’s a common issue, and one that can be successfully addressed.

Addressing its root causes and creating a supportive partnership are key steps in overcoming this challenge.

About Bailey Hanek PsyD

Clinical Psychologist and Certified Sex Therapist

Dr. Bailey Hanek is a clinical psychologist and an AASECT-certified sex therapist. She serves as a professional consultant for Between Us Clinic. Dr. Hanek provides sex therapy and general psychotherapy to adults in her private practice. In addition, she works to increase access to information about relationship and sexual health through her founding role in The Relationship Coaches.