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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What Does It Mean When Her Boyfriend Gets an Erection?

Dear Bro Jo,

I'm turning to you in a little bit of desperation right now. I trust you and couldn't think of any better place to get my information.

I wish it was something I felt more comfortable asking my parents about, but right now it's not.

So, my current anxiousness is a result of naivety about boys and, well, how they work.

Quick background: I've been dating this guy for about a month now. He's an RM and I'm 22.  We currently attend BYU.  We haven't officially said that we're exclusive, but we act like we are boyfriend/girlfriend. And, being such, we like to cuddle.

Now, I'm very careful about physical affection (we haven't kissed yet) but it definitely feels really good. He's told me that he wants to make sure he's honest about things with me, meaning that the emotion is there before the physical stuff. He had kind of jumped in fast at the beginning and was backing off to make sure he really felt it. I really respect him for that, and am glad he cares so much to be truthful with me.

We haven't done anything that I would call crossing the line or even close. I dress modestly, we don't lay down while cuddling, we don't touch each other inappropriately, we don't talk about sex, etc.

Basically, there's nothing I can think of that we are doing that I would consider wrong.

That being said, I've noticed him get an erection a few times that we've been together. It's usually just while we're sitting together on the couch with his arm around me. This is where I my naivety comes in.

I just don't know what I'm supposed to do when that happens.

Do I let him know that I can see it?

Do I pull away from him without an explanation?

With an explanation?

I don't want to embarrass him. I don't even really know what it means or what causes it to happen. I can't imagine that it's anything I've done, other than being female and sitting close to him.

It it just something that happens?

Or is it sinful before marriage?

Should I tell him that it makes me uncomfortable?

Is it even my business?

Should I ignore it? (This is what I've done so far.)

Is there something I can do to help him, or is it just up to him to control his thoughts and feelings?

And finally, is this something that is concerning enough that I should consider ending our relationship?

Or do I just need to put up more boundaries?

I just don't know how serious this is. It's not something I've ever had to worry about before.

I know nobody's perfect, and so I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt. I'd appreciate it if you could explain to me a little of how boys think and feel and how that relates to their physiology. I don't want to be the object of his lust, and I don't think he intends that to be so either.

What do you suggest?


- Naive and worried

Dear Naive,

First of all, it's a good thing. It means that, physiologically speaking, he finds you . . . exciting.

Not necessarily lustful thoughts, but we men do often think about sex. Give us a break; we're wired that way by design. And, believe me, for a young guy, especially one that hasn't . . . had a lot of prior sexual experience (which, btw, is the goal if we're unmarried, right?) ... before, this is a very typical and natural response. Sitting close and being female is all it takes. Heck, it probably happens when you're not around and he's just thinking about you (don't freak out; that's a normal and good thing, too).

This is the way a man's body is supposed to work. It's part of the natural procreation process. I don't think you should say anything yet, I'm sure he's aware (trust me, he's aware) and if his . . . dating experience is the same level as yours, anything you say or do will likely embarrass him.

There's only a few things you can do to help him; the best ones you need to save for marriage; the other things you can do involve giving him a break from you. 

Don't freak out, don't run away, play it cool.

Understand that this is his physiology, and this is the way God designed him to react when he's turned on by you. It's involuntary.

If you're embarrassed or uncomfortable, get up and get some distance - in a casual but specific way (like go to the restroom or go get something to eat).

Suggest that the two of you go for a walk, change the activity, or politely end the evening. (This may be more information than you bargained for, but if he's been in that state for a while, it will begin to become uncomfortable, and he'll be grateful for the break.)

It's not serious, it's not sinful, and certainly not something to end your relationship over. Back the cuddling sessions down a bit in duration and frequency. So long as the two of you can keep from responding to this reaction as if you're married people, you'll be fine.

When you're comfortable enough with each other that you've begun to discuss sex (because you’re planning on marriage), you can discuss it then (see Bro Jo's List of Things You Should Know Before You Agree to Marry).

Now is too early.

Hope that helps,

- Bro Jo

Dear Bro Jo,

Oh my goodness, thank you so much!

Everything you said really helps a lot, and I feel so much better about things.

Thanks for the explanations; everything makes a lot more sense now.

And thank you for your suggestions; I feel a lot more confident about how to deal with the situation now. 

Really, thanks for what you do. I was really concerned about this, and felt too embarrassed and shy to ask anyone else. I really appreciate your wisdom and willingness to share it with us-- especially on these sometimes difficult questions.

Also, your email came just when I needed it. I was just feeling really down (not related to this topic at all) but when I got your email it lifted my spirits a lot.


- No longer naive

Dear NLN,

I wish we in the Church did a better job balancing our valid concerns regarding Sex Education as it's taught publicly in much of the world and not giving you all enough information to understand basic human anatomy and physiology.

There's a fine line in the young mind between information and permission, and even as experienced adults it can be difficult to navigate.

Thank you for your kind words,

- Bro Jo


Anonymous said...

My friends (both 19) and and I (21) were just talking about how we wish more of our peers knew more about sex and the way our bodies work. We have all been raised in Utah and have all heard stories of young people getting married and being totally naive to the point where they don't even know what goes where.

We're taught that sex is bad to the point where we think even the word is bad. I was lucky to have a parent who teaches courtship and marriage, but my friends have had to learn from their friends and other sources. And that's the way it's been with most of my friends.

There just needs to be a more open, honest dialogue about the whole thing. And I'm glad that you have given this sister a place she can go. But I'm sad she didn't feel like she could go to her parents.

Anonymous said...

I think you ought to have made it more clear from the beginning of your answer that getting an erection is usually completely involuntary. I can't believe she thought this might be a thing to end a relationship over. It's not like the guy could just turn it off if he knew it made her feel uncomfortable, and it's not like it's something he was doing on purpose.

Anonymous said...

my bf got a boner while me putting mt hand on his leg i really did not know what to do so i just took my hand of his leg and kept talking without metioned anything !!! the big thing is that iam 15 and he is 14

Bro Jo said...

1. You're too young to have a "boyfriend" - it's not a good idea, IMHO, until you're out of High School. Trust me.

2. You shouldn't be putting your hand on anyone's leg . . . unless he's your husband

3. You shouldn't be doing anything with any guy at your age where it seems like the "thing to do" is put your hand on his leg.

Kids your age doing "stuff" doesn't impress or shock me . . . it makes me sad. You're worth more than that.

- Bro Jo