It's Like Achieving Nirvana, Only In My Pants.
May 22, 2010 7:46 AM   Subscribe

Help me stop obsessing over having an orgasm with my partner (because if I can do THAT, I might actually stand a chance of having one - d'oh! Obsessing again...)

A Thumbnail Sketch:

- I'm in my late twenties, female, hetero, healthy, active, decent self-image. Physically/psychologically normal (albeit with ADD and semi-controlled depression). Raised with love, without any crippling guilt/shame/abuse.

- I'm sexually normal. No fetishes or all-encompassing kinks. Open and enthusiastic about damned near anything. Healthy libido. Have enjoyed an array of partners and experiences.

- I'm able to reach orgasm by myself... usually with little difficulty, occasionally only after a Sisyphus-rollin'-ben-wa-balls-up-the-hill struggle.

- I was able to consistently reach orgasm with two previous partners (both used specific-but-different techniques; neither was a grand, passionate love of mine).

- I'm in a committed long-term relationship with The Greatest Guy Since Ketchup on Hashbrowns. He is abundantly aware of my sexual preferences/needs. And yet I can't get off at the hands (or mouth, or penis) of said guy to save my life.

Relevant Background Information: when I was sixteen, the first boy I'd ever fooled around with pulled his head from between my legs, hissed, "God, why won't you come yet?" and flopped back on the bed, disgusted. If I'd had any idea how many times I'd experience variations on that scene, I might've joined a nunnery. Each time a male partner has joked, complained or even mentioned my difficulties scaling Mt. St. Orgasm (and MANY have done so), I've felt progressively worse.

One (drunken) night early in our relationship, CurrentBoyfriend made a few underhanded remarks about My Situation. After lots of tears and talk, he apologized profusely. Since then, he's claimed he doesn't care if I come... he just wants me to feel good and enjoy myself. The problem (besides not FULLY believing him)? I DO care if I come. I HATE feeling broken. And the worse I feel, the less likely it is that the situation will improve.

I start out with good intentions. During the first thirty seconds of oral/fingering, I'm thinking, "Mmmn, this feels good." But inevitably, My Situation surfaces. "That feels good... maybe I'll come! Oh, shit, I'm not supposed to be thinking about that... mmmmn. Yeah, it's not going to happen. What the fuck is wrong with me?! Stop it... stop it! Okay... oooh, yes. Just relax... just relax... relax... and-maybe-you'll-get-off. NOOOOO!"

CurrentBoyfriend licked me - to completion! - a handful of times early in our relationship. However, the few successes were more of a curse than a blessing... they introduced the POSSIBILITY that I might come, and therefore made me fret/obsess a hundred times harder than before - "I CAN do this... SO WHY ISN'T IT HAPPENING?!" I've done a LOT of reading on the subject. We've done a lot of talking. I've stopped reading/talking. Nothing has helped.

Can YOU help? Any suggestions/stories/anecdotes/words of wisdom would be appreciated. This has been making an otherwise sex-positive woman feel REALLY NEGATIVE for over a decade, and I'm so sad and sick of it.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah, anxiety about sexual performance is ... kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy! I had some performance issues a few years ago and the way I beat them was to have lots of no-goals sex -- experiences where performance doesn't matter. IOW, "it doesn't matter if the world explodes as long as there's a nice bonfire to sit down next to for awhile." The more of that there is, the warmer the fire gets each time, if you know what I mean.

So, my suggestion specifically is to have lots of sex fun time, don't worry about orgasms, and most importantly make sure your BF isn't trying to get you off. At least for me, as soon as I realize someone is just going through the motions for my benefit, I'm done. Totally done.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:15 AM on May 22, 2010

Focus on how good it feels RIGHT NOW rather than how good it might feel if you come.

Are you on any ADD meds? I've heard they mess up the orgasm sometimes. Since they narrow focus, if your mind latches onto "working toward the orgasm" instead of enjoying the instant moment, you almost ignore the good feelings that lead up to orgasm.
posted by gjc at 8:26 AM on May 22, 2010

IANAD, but some medications for depression have sexual side effects. If your doctor doesn't know you have this problem, your doctor won't realize you're experiencing the side effect. Yet another area where women get the short straw, a man typically has rather physical evidence when he's experiencing a sexual side-effect of medication. It might even be a good idea to *believe* that it's the medicine even if it isn't. That way, you can change your belief about your ability to orgasm by changing your medicine.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 8:29 AM on May 22, 2010

Are you taking hormonal birth control? It is a cruel irony that hormonal birth control frequently does this. Just another avenue to consider.
posted by amethysts at 8:46 AM on May 22, 2010

This is a recognized issue with ADD. Meds should help, but if you're on them and still having this problem, check with your doctor about whether it's safe to take Sam-e while on the meds. Not to go into too much gory detail, but I've had similar issues, and with Sam-e, it can knock it down to 5 minutes or less. (Happy dance! Happy Dance!)

Sam-e is something your body makes naturally. I would avoid the Nature Made brand, based on this.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:57 AM on May 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

two glasses of wine and a hitachi magic wand the next time you have sex?

Can you reach orgasm through self-stimulation if he is the room? Could you make that a fun activity for the two of you--he can see what you like and you maybe can let your mind relax a little.
But regardless, you clearly like this guy. Is it fair to say that sex is fun and enjoyable with him without always orgasming? There can be a whole world of fun that doesn't necessarily including having an orgasm.

Also that boy when you were sixteen? He was an ass. You are not broken & there is nothing wrong with you.
posted by inertia at 9:02 AM on May 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

Try taking orgasms completely off the table for a bit (like a week or month). Fooling around with the the explicit goal to *not* end with orgasm may allow you to enjoy the sexy time without the anxiety and get used to a different dynamic.

Good luck.
posted by ccoryell at 9:34 AM on May 22, 2010

And yet I can't get off at the hands (or mouth, or penis) of said guy to save my life.

This is probably too obvious, but have you tried a small vibrator, one made for use during intercourse?
posted by palliser at 10:07 AM on May 22, 2010

You're not broken. It's normal for some women to have some amount of difficultly reaching orgasm - and since you can have one on your own, your body is working just fine.

It used to be really, really difficult for me to reach orgasm with a partner. Eventually, someone figured out just the right way to stimulate me, and it became easy with that person; now it's pretty easy overall. So - just because it's difficult for you to reach orgasm now doesn't mean it will be difficult forever.

I agree that the amount of pressure you're putting on yourself is probably making it harder or impossible for you to orgasm. Have you tried masturbating in front of your boyfriend? That might be a fun thing for you both - and it might take some of the pressure off. You might not orgasm when you first try this, since it's sometimes hard for you on your own, and you might be nervous - but it could still be fun to try.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:11 AM on May 22, 2010

First thing: Ditto what inertia said. YOU ARE NOT BROKEN.

Based on experiences similar to yours, my wife has always had difficulty getting there. It got bad enough that we basically gave up on sex/intimacy, although there were some other factors in there as well. She saw her OB/GYN and a therapist, changed birth control pills, took several different anti-depressants and made diet/exercise/lifestyle changes. Nothing helped. She would occasionally have the desire to try for it, but the difficulties we'd been through in the past led her to just ignore the urge and squash her desire. It sucked. Bad.

In the past, we had tried various toys, lubes, gadgets, gizmos, and appliances without much success. In the rare instances where I could actually make her come, it was only after an hour or more of work that usually left me with cramps in my hands, arms, neck, and jaw. On a whim (read: it was on sale) I ordered a Wahl 7-in-1 from Babeland. It was a few weeks before she was willing to try it. She had a glass of red wine and threw out a "What the fuck? Let's give it a shot." What followed was one of the most joyous events of my life.

In less than half an hour she came six times. SIX. TIMES. She laughed like a kid in a candy store. She even said something along the lines of "So THAT is why everyone makes such a big deal about it." Of the six orgasms, she said five of them were the most powerful, intense, and enjoyable orgasms she'd ever had.

There are two things that I think played in to the situation... the first is the Wahl (now referred to as "Wally" in our house) and the second was her having an open, relaxed mind. Previously, we'd dimmed the lights, lit candles, put soft music on, etc. to set the mood and try and help things along. The Night of Many Orgasms was much more laid back. We left all the lights on and just relaxed on the bed while we tried all the different attachments and talked about which ones she liked and what kind of movement and pressure felt right to her.

All of this leads to my advice to you in the three parts:

1) Get a toy that's different from what you've used in the past and have your boyfriend use it on you/with you. If you're near one, go to a Babeland store and talk to the people there. They're WONDERFUL. If the toy you get doesn't work out for you, don't give up. Try something else.

2) TALK. The more you can tell your boyfriend what he's doing right and (in a gentle way) what he's doing wrong, the better off you'll be.

3) RELAX AND ENJOY THE PROCESS!!! Most likely, you won't have huge success right off the bat. But you can have fun not succeeding! If nothing else, you could end up with a great inside joke about that crazy purple thing that scared the neighbor's dog and blew a circuit breaker when you fired it up. :-)

From someone that's been on the other side of the same face, good luck. I wish you the best!
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 12:04 PM on May 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

BAH! "other side of the same fence".
posted by ElDiabloConQueso at 12:06 PM on May 22, 2010

Seconding all those recommending the addition of toys in the boudoir. Current girlfriend (who is "the best thing since ketchup on hashbrowns," awesome phrase!) needs direct clitoral stimulation during sex, or the big O is a no show. It could be you might want to take some time out and explore what kind of stimulation you really need; straight up vaginal penetration may not do it for you. If you're looking for a classier toy, I'd recommend a LELO.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:09 PM on May 22, 2010

There are lots of people just like you who need direct stimulation (and it's okay to be the one who gets you off just the way you know how! It's your body!)

But yeah, even if you have orgasm after orgasm after orgasm, fretting about whether it *will* happen *this* time is the real killer. I'm sorry you had those terrible experiences with jerks, your happiness comes first. nthing the encouragement to enjoy how it feels right now, that orgasm isn't the sole goal of sexytimes. Keep talking to your boyfriend and play around with what makes you feel relaxed and comfortable.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 2:52 PM on May 22, 2010

I know this sounds like a pat answer, but stop trying to fix it?

This must suck for you. I totally sympathize (lord knows I do) and it is frustrating as hell to have the perfect dude and then be missing something really big in bed just because of weird chemistry. Arghhh.

Seriously, though, the more I like a partner the harder it is for me to orgasm with them. It is so annoying. Maybe that's what's going on. In my case, my brain is like WOAH LOOK AT THIS HOT HOTTIE I LOVE HIM OH MAN HE IS AWESOME I'D BETTER COME BECAUSE I WANT HIM TO KNOW I'M HAVING FUN AND THAT I LIKE HIM AND I WANT HIM TO LIKE ME AND ORGASMS ARE FUN AND I'M PROBABLY FRUSTRATING HIM I HATE THAT HE'S SO AWESOME AND HOT WHY CAN'T I JUST COME....oy!

So weirdly enough, it might be a function of you and him having this awesome connection outside of the bedroom. Kinda contradicts the old myth that true love = the best sex! It can, but sometimes it really just messes it up.

All is not lost, however!

1. Can you turn your brain off? Chemical assistance of choice? Anything else?
2. Can you accept that orgasms are cool but that you have to give them to yourself because you have such a great relationship? Man that's a weird sentence, but brains are weird. Sometimes it's easier to just roll with the "my brain is weird, oh well" thing so that you're not adding negative self-talk to the problem that already exists, you know? Then maybe after a while you'll be less nervous about it and it'll happen anyway.

Either way, you are valuable and cool and sexy and that dude who rolled over on the bed all annoying was being very stupid. Having sex with you is a privilege and a fun time, whether you have an orgasm or not, and he should have been happy for the chance!

(I don't know why my brain is in all-caps...!)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:29 PM on May 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

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