Cupid's Broken Arrow

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By Laura Sessions Stepp
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 7, 2006

Adam Skrodzki, a tall, redheaded senior at the University of Maryland, bench-presses a respectable 280 pounds. He fights fires in Howard County as a volunteer and plans to join the Secret Service in the fall. In short, he's a man's man.

Or so he thought until last fall, when he hooked up with a sophomore -- at her urging.

The girl really wanted to make a go of it with him. On learning earlier that he had no interest in pursuing a relationship, she had offered to be his "friend with benefits," and he had agreed. In his mind, that decision was a no-brainer.

But on this night, their first in bed, his body was telling him something else. She used every trick she knew, with no success. Adam panicked.

"I've had no problem with this before," he thought. "What if this gets out? What if she tells her girlfriends? My reputation will be ruined."

Skrodzki is far from alone. It seems that for a sizable number of young men, the fact that they can get sex whenever they want may have created a situation where, in fact, they're unable to have sex. According to surveys, young women are now as likely as young men to have sex and by countless reports are also as likely to initiate sex, taking away from males the age-old, erotic power of the chase.

"I know lots of girls for whom nothing is off limits," says Helen Czapary, a junior at the University of Maryland. "The pressure on the guys is a huge deal."

Combine performance anxiety with binge drinking and the abuse of drugs on campus and it's no wonder that problems are showing up at college clinics in numbers that give the lie to the adage that impotence is reserved for the old (Bob Dole) or crazy (Jack Nicholson in "Carnal Knowledge"). The younger models who now appear in commercials for Viagra and its pharmaceutical clones reveal that the drug makers know (hope?) what the rest of us don't: Some members of the Game Boy generation are losing their game.

As the band Weezer sings it:

What's the deal with my brain?

Why am I so obviously insane?

In a perfect situation


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