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When You Can't "Get it Up" After Breakups: Why Does It Happen And How To Overcome It

Updated: May 31, 2023

Erectile Dysfunction After Breakups: Everything You Need To Know

Breakups can be both emotionally and physically challenging. So before we dive too deep into this article, let me sincerely say, I’m sorry guys. Not everything is forever, and there comes a time when you and your partner have to go your separate ways.

There's a good chance you feel conflicted about the situation – different emotions entwined within you; anger, love, disappointment, and above all, sorrow. With that being said, hopefully, there's some relief at escaping a complicated relationship or some enthusiasm about meeting new people and embracing new sexual experiences.

We’re not just going to talk about breakups in general though, we want to specifically touch on the subject of dealing with trouble "getting it up" after a breakup.

If that perfectly explains what you’re going through right now, just know that this is not the time to be hysterical: breakups can affect many men's performance in the bedroom, but it doesn't have to be your future. Remember, sexual performance issues are treatable.

Breakups have an undeniable power to shape our lives and even alter how we function. If you're finding yourself having trouble getting it up after a difficult break, or if the idea of erectile problems making matters worse has been looming over your head, this article is for you!

When You "Can't Get It Up" After A Breakup

couple holding hands

If you find that you can't get it up after a breakup, it's most likely psychological, meaning that your brain is interfering with your ability to "rise to the occasion".

We’ve talked before in many of our articles about the different types of sexual performance issues men face and this is more common than you would think after having a breakup. According to data, about 40% of all of men who experience issues in the bedroom are psychogenic.

Psychological performance issues is exactly what it sounds like, it’s due to something going on in your head/brain. It has nothing to do with your physical body (Although some men can experience both).

Causes of Psychogenic Performance Issues After a Breakup

To get a better understanding of what happens after a breakup and you're just not quite getting up or occasionally you’re unable to get hard, we need to have a good understanding of what exactly causes this to happen. Not only that but also take a look at what you’re experiencing as a human during a breakup (it's okay to be emotional!).

General Stress

Research continues to show a close link between stress levels and sexual performance.

Most of us already have enough stress going on in our lives, whether it's from work, family, personal finances, or anything else.

These are things that can prevent us from getting in the mood with our partners, or make the getting it hard delayed because we're not focusing on getting hard. We're too consumed with our day-to-day stress.

Now, if you add a "breakup" to your general stress, then it's only going to make your erection process even more delayed as you're now going to be, too stressed out, emotionally.

Emotional stress

man dealing with ed from too much stress

Relationships fundamentally alter our identities. We're not just two people living together: we almost fuse into a single organism if you think about it. Outside of work, you spend the most amount of time together with your significant other more than anyone else. Basically, you sleep together, eat, drink, and make everyday decisions together.

Then all of a sudden, that piece of you is missing, and part of your brain is freaking out trying to find purpose as an individual, rather than as two people. This process usually takes time as both your brain and heart needs to heal in order to rediscover who you are now. In turn, our brain begins to release stress hormones like cortisol. Cortisol inhibits testosterone, which is the primary male sex hormone, and is responsible for getting in the mood for sex.


On top of emotional stress, we also can experience depression. Depression may result from the trauma or pain of a difficult breakup. We’ve all been there before and it’s not great, it sucks. Moreover, changes in family finances and living arrangements often cause even more stress and depression.

Additionally, mental health issues like depression can damage your self-esteem, making it difficult for you to perceive your significance (self-doubt), creating a "mental barrier" that inhibits you from successfully having sex.

Generally speaking, these types of emotional responses can cause the body to go into "fight or flight mode," which diverts blood away from the penis and essentially can cause you not to get hard at all.

Performance Anxiety

For better or for worse, whether the sex was amazing, otherwise boring, or occasionally unsatisfactory, your ex-relationship life entailed a certain rhythm, which in itself brought confidence. Both of you were probably well acquainted with the other's wants and sexual preferences. You also understood what exactly your partner expected from you.

After the breakup, all of this changed. Your new sexual encounters become unpredictable, the experience feels unfamiliar, a lot remains unknown, and the ground feels less safe. In light of this, the moments of physical and emotional unity in which we feel so utterly exposed might lead to sexual performance anxiety (SPA).

This happens when your body fears that you won’t perform well or even at all. This can be overwhelming that can trigger anxiety. Which is going to be a roadblock to achieving or sustaining your wood.

Other breakup scenarios that can be traumatic for a man to perform in his next relationship

If your breakup was because you had trouble downstairs then this may lead to self-doubt or fear of rejection from a new partner. This may lead to sexual avoidance or sexual anorexia because of a fear that their new partner may have similar feelings as your ex-partner.

Lastly, being cheated on may be problematic, too. This may also cause self-doubt and for one to second guess their sexual abilities, which can take a toll on their sexual confidence in future relationships.

How to Navigate It After a Breakup

Now that we have a good understanding of how a breakup can impact your sex life, we need to talk about how you can sustain a healthy boner post-breakup. It’s plain and simple, take everything we just talked about and beat it with some help and techniques.

Manage Your Stress Levels


Navigating psychological performance issues after a breakup requires taking care of your mental state by practicing activities that help prevent or lower your stress levels (and the Cortisol).

Our neurotransmitters; serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin all help us by supporting happiness and pleasure. While also helping to lower anxiety and depression. These are what you want to be focusing on increasing in your body.

It's also important to note that dopamine and relationships go hand in hand. It's an important part of developing a healthy and intimate connection with someone.

You can naturally increase these feel-good chemicals to lower stress by simply doing things that you enjoy and love. Think about:

  • Listening to music

  • GETTING SUNLIGHT (vitamin D)

  • Getting enough sleep

  • Exercises like jogging, taking long walks, bike riding, or hitting the gym

  • Taking on a new hobby that will treat your mind, body and soul

  • Being around animals and nature

  • Following breathing activities

  • Social interaction (laugh with a friend)

Think of it this way, you are distracting yourself from the negative things, and you’re doing something you enjoy which helps to release the happy neurotransmitters and keeps you engaged. These activities will give you a sense of efficacy, keep your mind engaged, give you something to look forward to, and above all, keep stress and anxiety at bay.

On a side note: Sometimes guys try to force themselves to get back into the dating world or "hookup" culture when they're not ready to do so. If you don't feel "healed" or still feel emotionally and physically stressed, then you're not going to be in the right headspace to get aroused and erect for sex.
Focus on yourself, first. Love yourself, first! Go at your own pace and don't force yourself to do something because someone else is pressuring you to do something you don't want to. And don't feel obligated to do what others are doing because you think you need to do what they're doing. What's right for someone else may not be right for you!

Talk About It With Someone

man doing online sex therapy to help treat erectile dysfunction

We recently talked in one of our blogs about how there is this stipulation about men thinking they're too tough to go to the doctor or get help when they need it. Let’s be frank here, no one is too tough for that. Seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of BDE (big dick energy). It’s confidence in knowing that you’re ready to heal and do what it takes.

You can also reduce stress by sharing your feelings and experiences with a sex therapist. It would also help if you joined a community of men going through similar situations. These communities help you reset to singlehood again, build new social networks, boost your self-confidence, and cope with common triggers and stressors without letting them interfere with your daily life.

Practice Mindfulness Meditation (Before and During Sex)

It might be a buzzword, but mindfulness (moment-by-moment awareness with all five senses) can help with various forms of sexual performance issues, including stress, depression, and sexual performance anxiety.

More precisely, a recent study discovered that a month of mindfulness practice helped men address their issues downstairs and enhance their entire sex life.

Monitor Masturbation and Porn

We can all agree that masturbation is a great stress buster (pun intended there). It’s something we all do both in and out of relationships and it’s healthy for you. However, you’re going to want to be mindful of just how much of it you’re doing.

There is questionable research that suggests that masturbating frequently to porn may potentially contribute to issues "getting it up". This happens by desensitizing you to certain imagery and/or physical intimacy. Men who regularly watch porn are likelier to develop a problem and lose interest in "real life" sex.

At the same time, if you're dealing with a breakup and you're not particularly "ready" to get back in the dating world, you might find more comfort in masturbating or watching porn versus healing emotionally. This may deplete your dopamine levels preventing you from getting back out there!

With that said, excessive masturbation and porn consumption can affect your ability to perform sexually, especially if you do it right before you intend to have sex with a new partner. We’re not saying to never do it, all we’re saying is to monitor just how much you’re doing it. You can also change the way you masturbate, which can help you avoid bad masturbation patterns.

Anything done in excess is almost always not good for us.

What If Your Partner Dumped You Because You Had Physical Trouble "Getting It Up"?

Rich from BDEStyle explaining to his friend that his girlfriend dumped him because he didn't communicate about his erectile dysfunction issues and because he lived a poor lifestyle

As we've discussed psychological (mental) causes that may affect our ability to perform after a breakup, sometimes we might be heading into a new relationship with issues "getting it up" that are physical and were already existing prior to your previous relationship.

This is something you need to address.

We mentioned earlier that sometimes our partners may leave us because of sexual performance issues. But it's not always because of the inability to "get it up" that causes partners to leave us. Sometimes it's because we fail to effectively communicate about it with our partners. At the same time, some of us avoid seeking help from a doctor to rule out physical causes because we don't want to admit the problem.

Our partners do notice these things. They notice when we go soft or when we are not performing at our best. Just because they're not saying it directly to you, doesn't mean that they aren't thinking about it. Sometimes they're just waiting for you to open up about it or to take the initiative by going to the doctor.

Get To The Bottom Of Your Sexual Performance Issues After Your Breakup

If you're in this boat, then it's time to seek help from a doctor for an accurate diagnosis. This can be the start of your self-improvement arc.

Lab work can help rule out endocrinological or hormonal issues. It can also help rule out health diseases and conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. that affect blood flow to the penis.

MRI's and CT scans can show impingements, nerve issues, and spinal cord issues. These are just examples. But, it's a good start for anyone looking to rule out physical causes downstairs.

Next, would be treating the physical cause at the root. This is usually because of health issues and diseases that cause poor performance in the penis in the first place.

Most people going through a breakup usually think about getting in shape or eating healthier as motivation for them to get back out there. But there might be blockages due to poor lifestyle choices that dieting and exercise may not be enough to get the engine to start or to stay running (literally).

So what do you do?

The Phoenix Device May Help Jumpstart Your Sexual Performance In Your Next Relationship

If you're in the early stages with a new partner and your manhood won't cooperate, the last thing you want to do is to buy expensive pills at gas stations secretly. Those cheap pills are horrible for your health, not FDA regulated, and are not going to help you in the long run.

The best way to optimize performance in the bedroom or treat sexual decline and to understand the type of performance issue you have going on. Then you can find the right type of treatment for it and make the appropriate lifestyle changes that we talked about.

the phoenix

In addition to that, new at-home shockwave devices such as The Phoenix, is a great way to help treat the natural decline men face in the bedroom. The Phoenix uses Li-ESWT technology that has been used in men's health clinics for over a decade. Guys can turn back the clocks by doing shockwave treatment at home and reclaiming their sexual confidence in the bedroom.

Talk about making it easier to "get it up" when you need it most.

Li-ESWT (the acronym) is a treatment option for men that has been used to restore sexual decline in men struggling to achieve and maintain performance with their partners. This makes it easier for men who suffered from a decline to either become more responsive in the bedroom.

By following Dr. Thompson's 120-day Phoenix protocol of 16 treatments (one month on and one month off rest), your typical "average" guy with sexual performance issues will not only notice progressional improvements in their ability to get it up, but the potential to walk into their next relationship with a newfound confidence to perform in the bedroom.

Even If Your Issue Was Because Of A Physical Cause, Do NOT Neglect The Psychological Causes Either.

Remember, if you feel stressed, your dopamine levels decrease, affecting your mood and motivation to have sex.

Dopamine is in charge of initiating an erection. It transmits messages from the brain to the penis. These signals tell the nitric oxide synthase enzyme to make nitric oxide in the body (important for getting a boner). After that, nitric oxide expands the blood vessels in the penis, allowing blood to circulate and causing you to "rise to the occasion".

So without the right amounts of dopamine, or an imbalance (and increase in cortisol) sex drive could be low, and getting it up could be even more challenging.

Overcome Not Being Able to "Get it Up" After a Breakup

Remember, if you're not ready to get back out there, do not force yourself to. Take this time to heal and rediscover yourself both mentally and physically. But, when you do get back out there, know that things are going to be different and sometimes the sex will be unpredictable.

The important thing is to learn to understand the different types of sexual performance issues so you can step in the right direction. This way, you can make distinctions rather than assume the worst.

Having issues downstairs is not a life sentence; you can overcome it after a breakup. But, like we advise everyone, YOU MUST TREAT THE WHOLE BODY, not just the penis. If you have trouble getting it up because of a breakup, it can always come back if you don't choose to live a healthier lifestyle.

As always, if you guys have any questions about the topic today or want to share some of your own personal experiences or concerns, feel free to leave a comment down below or send us a message.


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