When I was thinking about how I was going to arrange this migration/archive, I realized that some of the posts and discussions on technique issues were more properly included among the easier, more concrete things a man could consider, instead of where they were located in the blog’s original time line, which was after a lot of much thornier issues had been raised.
So instead of waiting to post them, I’ve assembled them here in chronological order under “Details” and have included their original comments. Since they are out of order compared to where they originally appeared, you’ll find some references to other posts and discussions that I haven’t yet gotten around to migrating. When I do, I’ll come back and insert some links to the appropriate material.
The problem of orgasm
First up is an email I got from one of my readers who called herself “lindsay”:
I’m 22 years old, female, and bisexual. I have never had an orgasm which was not essentially produced by masturbation. I have only come in the presence of a partner twice. Even by myself with a vibrator it takes me about half an hour to climax. If I’m trying to do that with someone else around, it could take twice that long. (When I’m alone I often read erotic stories to fuel my fantasies, which helps, but is hard to do with someone else there.)
I loved reading your WYW: Misunderstanding column, because it showed me I’m not alone in having this particular problem. I have felt guilty about it for many years, ever since I started having sex at 18. I can’t give my partner the pleasure of bringing me to orgasm. I know how nice it is to do that to a woman, so it makes me sad I can’t offer my partner that experience.
It can also be difficult to engage in particular sexual acts. Oral sex feels nice, but my partner could do it for three hours and I wouldn’t come, so it sometimes feels pointless.
Your mention of feeling ‘watched’ and being distracted by guilt about how long it takes was spot on. I need ‘really major and continuous clitoral stimulation’ to reach orgasm. I sometimes worry if I have an actual physical problem to do with this, but I get over it after a little while.
Pretty much no-one else can do it for me, because it needs to be in exactly the right place at the right time. I can give my partner an ‘assistant’ role with a vibrator or something, but it’s not exactly romantic, more mechanical. ‘Stick it in now! More gently! Yes!… No, harder! Point it upwards!’ There aren’t really sexy or non-commanding ways to give those sorts of instructions, sadly.
I know I don’t have to orgasm to a pre-determined schedule, or in three seconds flat like a Pornobabe, but it would be nice, just sometimes, to be able to really share my orgasm with my partner. We have enjoyable, adventurous sex quite a lot, but, well, I guess I *have* given up on the whole issue, because I just can’t make anyone spend an hour in cramped, damp conditions which are immensely unlikely to do any good anyway. So I let my partners off the hook, and let them know they don’t have to give me orgasms, it’s really too difficult. Then, of course, sometimes I get pissed off when they don’t try, or don’t keep making an effort to work something out, because they think it doesn’t bother me or matter any more. And since that’s pretty much what I’ve told them, well, I only have myself to blame.
I have a few ideas to try, but they’re all a bit plodding, definitely not spontaneous. Things like getting him to read me an erotic story we both enjoy, or resigning ourselves to a fairly non-erotic ‘hands-on-learning’ session where I don’t just show him where to touch me, but allow myself to keep on correcting him over and over and over (obviously making sure in advance he is okay with that – I don’t usually do it because I don’t want to make him feel he’s doing it wrong all the time. He’s not really, but…)
It’s my feeling that if more women could more easily achieve orgasm, there would be little need for this blog. But it’s a fact of physiological life that for many women, it really does take extraordinary stimulation, and sometimes it simply seems to be not worth the effort.
|Comments in response to this post:|
|I’ve known two assexual people in my life. And they avoided most people simply because fighting social expectations was too painful. How can you keep explaining, every damn time, that you physicaly don’t *want* sex ever, that you can’t get arroused, that you don’t get that excitement from reparte/flirting that others get? At times it must be restful, not to be so distracted as The Rest Of Us, but so much of our society is based on sexual stimulis when dealing with strangers. Believe it or not there are men who have a hard time climaxing too, and I’m sure they feel broken or ashamed. But I guess women have it harder because of the context.. they go through that whole neverous/embarassed/ashamed privacy thing during puberty, and sometimes don’t open up again for a long time. So when there *is* a difference, when they finally try to learn about their sexual responses, it brings a whole host of guilt/shame along with it.
I think its gotten better in the past 10-20 years, but the results are disturbing the rest of society (things like teens not regarding oral/manual sex as ‘real’ sex, the growing fads of temporary bisexuality in young women, etc).
Jeff • 8/7/03; 3:55:09 PM
|You’ve described an issue, but not much specific to go on. Is there anything in your life that makes orgasm more difficult – emotional distance from a parent? physical or emotional abuse? That’s assuming this is a real problem that needs deeper understanding. And there are other possibilities. Maybe you need your emotions involved more and that hasn’t happened yet. Or maybe you haven’t matured sexually yet – that isn’t uncommon – and orgasm will become easier.
Young people have sex but that doesn’t mean they’re any good at it. My wife, who is in her late 40’s, is much better at it than when we first started doing it – better for me and better for her.
So either this is the tip of a bigger problem or it isn’t and only you know.
jonathank • 8/7/03; 4:34:09 PM
|This is just my own opinion, first put down the vibrator and do not use it again. Noone can reproduce the stimulation that it produces. When you first started masturbating was it with a vibrator? Second, you say that you are bi, but you only mention a male. What about females? Do you have the same problem with an experienced female?
If you haven’t had an experienced female then I would suggest that you find one and see what happens.
Not having much to go on I will leave it at that for now.
Lynn • 8/7/03; 5:51:45 PM
|Julia: Your reader’s story shows just how important communication is in relationships. The fact that she doesn’t feel comfortable going through a long process of constant correction with a partner, suggests that either she knows her partner is impatient or is afraid he/she is. I think a lot of guys would see this not as an ego-buster but as a great challenge and journey with someone they love, and would love to invest an hour a day, or six hours a day, just learning, so even if it takes hundreds of hours of practice her partner will eventually be able to do the ‘impossible’. That’s not an ordeal, its fun, and an adventure, and an investment in relationship. And if she likes oral sex even if it doesn’t conclude with orgasm (nothing terribly rare there) why not go for it, and make it clear the objective is the sharing of pleasure, not achieving a particular result. Or am I missing something here? Dave Pollard • 8/7/03; 6:48:32 PM|
|Okay, the first thing to do is to eliminate “shoulds” from the sexual vocabulary here. Accept the delay or non-orgasm. Now as to your partner, choose someone honest and caring. Explain the situation and let them choose – and believe them. Settle back, both of you and enjoy. Roy Kay • 8/7/03; 7:51:59 PM|
|Thank you for your responses 🙂 No, I’ve not suffered abuse of any kind. I’m not quite as close to my mother as I could be, but I don’t think that’s the problem. More likely, this is tangled up with a Catholic childhood and, in subtle, fairly ordinary ways, being made to feel that sexual knowledge was bad.
I think it will become easier over time. At the moment I do things in a very specific way which is hard for anyone else to reproduce. I know I can adapt this, however, though it will take a while to do so. I used to use just my right hand, whereas now I can bring my left hand into the picture too. There is hope!
Yes, I do need to do some thinking about sex on an emotional sort of level – thinking about what it means to me and my relationship. That will make a difference too.
Lynn, I’m not sure when I started masturbating. I had some quite vivid sexual fantasies around the age of 10-12, but I don’t thikn I masturbated to orgasm. First orgasm I remember was at 18, thanks to the amazing power-shower in my university accommodation. So that was pretty intense stimulation too.
What I was pleased at in Julia’s previous entry was that it seemed to me she was saying that no, it’s not always that you’re doing it wrong, or you’ve got yourself used to the vibrator. What I understood was ‘There may be nothing wrong with you, some people just need that amount of stimulation’. It was very encouraging to think that perhaps there isn’t any big mental, emotional or physical problem, maybe that’s just how I’m made, and it’s okay.
I can come without the vibrator, but the vibrator speeds things up. I don’t have the time to spend two hours masturbating.
I have indeed had an experienced female, with the same problem. My current monogamous partner is male, and I’m working on this in the context of him as my only partner. He’s not impatient. I think with most couples it can be hard to say ‘I want more than you’re giving me’ because it can make your partner feel they’re doing things wrong or are inadequate. He isn’t – on the information he has, he’s doing his very best and I really don’t want to make him feel bad. I have already mentioned Julia’s column to him, and the fact that I wrote in, and we have begun a discussion about it. It’s going well – he likes my ideas so far, and hopefully this weekend we’ll be able to spend some time working on it. 🙂 (It’s so hot here in the UK, though, that at the moment even hugging seems too sticky!)
As for oral sex, I like receiving it, and he loves giving it. No problem. The issue comes in when he’s been down there ten minutes or more and I remember what it’s like to do it myself and I think ‘Oh dear, maybe he thinks he has to carry on even if he’s getting tired, er…’ What I need to do is arrange that on the one hand, he does that, or similar activities, as long as he’s comfortable, unless I tell him otherwise; and he never has to be afraid he’s stopping just as I’m approaching orgasm, because I won’t be (unless I say so, which is unlikely).
I just have to say these things and make arrangements. That’s fine – it just goes against those ingrained images which involve spontaneity, ridiculously simultaneous orgasms, that sort of thing.
As Roy says, I just have to eliminate ‘should’ from my sexual vocabulary.
Thank you for your replies; they’ve helped me think about this further and identify more things I need to do.
The 22-year-old bisexual chick • 8/8/03; 5:01:43 AM
|Speaking as a young 20-something male who is currently dating a wonderful woman who has had some orgasm patterns in the past of the type that you describe. You are on the right track, relax, COMMUNICATE; when my girlfriend sat me down and said “I love being intimate with you, and I want to share myself with you in all forms, but I need you to be patient and to listen.” Then we did show, tell, show again, reposition and sweat and laugh for a couple of weekends straight. It did wonders for her orgasming on a consistent basis, and it has done wonders for our intimacy levels. So try to communicate, most guys I know enjoy feedback and advice. Fester fester • 8/8/03; 10:39:32 AM|
|>At the moment I do things in a very specific way which is hard for anyone else to reproduce. I think many of us do tend to accustom ourselves to one particular methodology via masturbation. It’s one reason (other than the purely physiological, as it may be in Lindsay’s case) that coming during intercourse can be problematic.
I also discovered that a G-spot orgasm is so much milder for me than one obtained by manual stimulation that I actually didn’t recognize it as one.
I also believe that women’s sexual development is predicated on experiencing orgasms. The more she has, the easier they will tend to become (but there are no guarantees, of course).
This is one reason why older women tend to enjoy sex more: the sexual response is reinforced by what could be called biofeedback, so that over time the mind-body “wiring” improves.
Julia Grey • 8/8/03; 11:34:59 AM
|>As Roy says, I just have to eliminate ‘should’ from my sexual vocabulary.Except, I can’t understand the monogamy. That’s sort of another “should” added to the mix.
Roy Kay • 8/8/03; 5:40:15 PM
|You could understand the monogamy if you TRIED REAL HARD, Roy. 🙂 Julia Grey • 8/8/03; 5:43:07 PM|
|I’ve actually tried polyamory and it ended in tears. I just don’t think I’m wired that way. Besides, right now I’m genuinely not interested in anyone but my partner. I’m planning some more conversations on this over the weekend. You guys are great to talk to (and I think I need a better nickname for this thing…) The 22-year-old bisexual chick • 8/9/03; 7:39:24 AM|
|Try “Sally.” Heh. P.S. It’s great to have you here. Given the interest this sidebar has generated, I’ve decided to get started on a new “chapter” next week: Technique (skipping over Motherhood for the time being).
Julia Grey • 8/9/03; 1:35:24 PM
| Try “Sally.” Heh. I meant “Lindsay.”
Julia Grey • 8/9/03; 2:26:13 PM
|Until I was about 35, I thought I was a “hard come.” It was very difficult for partners to give me the kinds of clitoral orgasms I could give myself. Like the writer, I felt sad and defective. Now, at 42, I consider myself unusually orgasmically gifted. I regularly have multiple orgasms with my partners and haven’t felt that anxiety and strain of trying to come for a long time.
What changed? Basically, I changed my definition of an orgasm. Over several years (and several very talented partners) I rejected the dogma that the only kind of orgasm is a clitoral one. I stopped comparing my orgasms to the ones in books and movies. Most importantly, I started paying close attention to the different types of pleasure I actually experience in sex.
Without getting into the taxonomy, I discovered to my delight that I experience several different kinds of sexual releases — at least four distinct types at last count, plus all kinds of delightful hybrids.
It’s still not easy for partners to give me clit orgasms. But with all these other flavors of ecstasy to explore, who cares?
catbird • 8/9/03; 7:33:07 PM
|I know that my body is capable of assorted other types of things akin to the ‘standard’ orgasm I can give myself. I’ve experienced these other things very infrequently, and have no idea how to get there myself. I guess it’s one of those things which comes with practice, time, and experience. I’ll keep on trying 🙂 The 22-year-old bisexual chick • 8/10/03; 4:35:01 AM|
|Practicing tantra and doing breathwork have both been very helpful in cultivating my capacity for pleasure. I highly recommend the Body Electric classes for women (www.bodyelectric.org). Keep remembering that your sexual response is only a problem or a defect if you frame it that way. Instead, try on the notion that your sexual response is unique and perfect and ever-evolving — and see if that’s not a more pleasant story than the one you’ve been running. Remember too that you’re just getting started with your sexual adventures. You’ll keep growing and learning about pleasure your whole life long — so don’t be hard on yourself for not having figured it all out at 22.
Just by being brave and aware enough to post here, you’ve taken another step along your way.
catbird • 8/10/03; 2:59:43 PM
|You sound just like me. I had to do things a certain way, and even have a certain fantasy going in my head. Whenever a man would try to make me orgasm I’d feel bad because I knew it wasn’t going to happen. One day I decided to quit feeling bad about it. Now I have no qualms about explaining to a man exactly what I want and how I want it.
Men are often too goal oriented. I just want him to touch me and make me feel good. The orgasm is NOT the most important thing. I mean, it’s nice, but let’s enjoy the scenery along the way, so to speak. 😉
Gentle Maitresse • 8/21/03; 12:00:2
I’m not sure I agree with Gentle Maitresse’s cavalier dismissal of orgasm as not all that important, but I do agree that sometimes it is totally counterproductive to be too “goal oriented,” because of the pressure of expectation. It is true that having orgasm is not absolutely crucial to any sense of enjoyment in sex, but on the whole I think most women really want one, and the fewer they get, the less interested in sex they will tend to be. As a general rule, mind you — I don’t want more furious letters about my “absolutism”!
Again, all of this discussion goes to show that there are radically different tastes among women even when it comes to techniques for getting to the Big O. I recently heard from a woman who claimed to know for a “fact” that women didn’t actually get any pleasure out of having their breasts or nipples stimulated, and that any woman who claimed that she did was just “pretending” for her partner’s benefit.
Um…no. While it’s true that some women don’t get any sexy sensations out of breast play, others do, and in many cases, it is very important to their overall enjoyment.
This whole thing illustrates the fallacy of giving you advice based on any particular woman’s sensations or tastes, but you do need some specific ideas to try, and some warnings about common problems. I hope I’ll hear from more readers about what works for them — and what doesn’t.
So just to get things underway, let me suggest a methodology that I enjoy. Standard disclaimers probably apply here more than ever, since this is just a statement of personal preferences and an outline of the things that turn ME on. They not only might not apply to your wife, they might be active turn-offs for all I know. But it can’t hurt for you to at least consider trying this line of approach.
Personally I’ve found that penetration immediately AFTER an orgasm, however that O is derived, is among the more sublime of sexual experiences. Standard pre-orgasmic intercourse is pleasant enough, of course, but it’s finer by far just after I’ve come, and my vaginal mini-orgasms during intercourse only happen after a regular, empty-vagina clitoral orgasm. So what we like to do is a little foreplay (massages, breast play, experimentations, finger fun, etc., of which more later), a few minutes of full-on missionary intercourse to get us both really warmed to the task, then we pursue my orgasms (always multiple these days) and end with more (usually very enthusiastic) intercourse in a variety of positions until he lets himself go.
I consider myself lucky in that I’ve always had very sensitive nipples, and we’ve found that the most effective route to my orgasm is to stimulate my nipple(s) and clitoris at the same time. This sets up a kind of feedback loop between breasts and groin that reinforces the buildup of pleasure. However, as I noted above, there are some women who derive little sexual excitement from their breasts or nipples, and for them attempts at stimulation can sometimes be actively off-putting. Others only like it at particular points in the process, or only appreciate particular kinds of stimulation.
For most of us who do like breast stimulation, sustained traction (sucking the nipple all the way up into your mouth and holding it there in a motionless vacuum force-field) is not particularly entrancing. Unvarying, repetitive action (rubbing the nipple monotonously back and forth in the same direction and with the same pressure, over and over, for example) is also problematic.
Nerve endings become accustomed to any repeated stimulus and essentially stop firing. So periodically sliding a moving tongue over the very tip of a nipple can bring forth shivers of delight, but doggedly “nursing” away like a starved suckling pig is not only unlikely to get her very excited but could even get annoying. Vary the rhythm, the force, the location, the movement. Rough or gentle, hard or soft, the idea is to avoid getting in even a temporary rut, so you keep the synapses humming.