Boyfriend can't ejaculate
November 5, 2012 7:46 AM   Subscribe

Help me deal with my boyfriend's ejaculatory impotence -- it's reaching a breaking point for me.

My boyfriend has been unable to orgasm or ejaculate in about a year when we are having any kind of sex (oral, manual, whatever). He can orgasm and ejaculate while he's by himself, but he cannot do it around me.

He says he didn't have this problem with previous girlfriends, so he doesn't completely know what's happening. I have begged him to go to a therapist/urologist/SOMEONE, but he's really been dragging his feet.

I'm still sorting out why this bothers me so much. Part of it is that it will cause complications down the line if we want to have kids, but a big part of it is that it's just super-sexy to be able to make my partner get off, and being unable to do so is really affecting my libido.

Please help me find brain hacks to be able to worry about this less -- this seems like a really ridiculous dealbreaker when everything else is pretty good, but it's getting to that point. Thank you so much for your help.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (28 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
It doesn't seem unreasonable to me -- giving pleasure is an important part of sexual intimacy. Plus, it's odd that it's so specific to you (or at least it would feel odd to me).

I guess I'd suggest to him that he stop masturbating for a while, just to see whether he's somehow affecting his physiological response via frequency or intensity (or porn as stimulation or whatever); increasing numbers of men are finding that masturbating to porn is affecting their sexual performance in real life, so this wouldn't be the first time. If you guys have a good relationship and you are finding this off-putting, he should be willing to work with you a bit.

Sorry I don't have a bunch of brain-hacks handy. I guess you could make sex all about your pleasure, but that sounds like an odd long-term dynamic, and it's hard to imagine it wouldn't affect the relative enthusiasm with which you both consider getting physical...
posted by acm at 7:56 AM on November 5, 2012


Is he taking an SSRI, like Paxil or Prozac? This is a common problem on SSRIs, with the ability to achieve self-orgasm basically coming down to be able to absolutely control the necessary stimulation.

But, if your boyfriend is enjoying himself with you, and not complaining, then this is a kind of tough dealbreaker to have. Think of it if the genders were reversed here: we would certainly think that a woman was entitled to an orgasm, but I don't think we would dictate that an orgasm was necessary for a woman to enjoy sex. As long as it doesn't affect his engagement in and enjoyment of sex, it seems like more his concern than yours. (The kids thing is something to consider, and certainly as it seems to be a medical change it might be worthwhile getting it checked out.)
posted by OmieWise at 8:01 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Putting pressure on your boyfriend to ejaculate during sex or to not masturbate are not going to work, believe me.

Is he still enjoying the sex you have? Are you satisfied with the amount of sex you have (irrespective of the amount of male ejaculation involved)? If the answer to either of those is no, the issue is not that he isn't ejaculating, the issue is mismatched sex drives or tastes. That's a shared problem that could be addressed with couples counseling, with emphasis on shared.

If you're both having fun and the frequency is acceptable to both of you, but you're just missing his ejaculation, it might be helpful to think about this issue from the gender-reversed perspective, where it's more common. Many women can only achieve orgasm from masturbating but still enjoy sex with their partners. For a lot of people, including some men, the orgasm is a "nice to have", not the entire point of the enterprise. It might be easier for you to deal with this if you can be more cognizant of how your boyfriend is enjoying sex with you even though he doesn't ejaculate.
posted by telegraph at 8:04 AM on November 5, 2012 [10 favorites]


For what it's worth, there's a good chance this isn't really "you vs. previous girlfriends" but "sex vs. masturbation, plus time."

It is very common for guys to have a harder time reaching orgasm with a partner, and an easier time doing it alone.

It is also very common for guys to have a harder time reaching orgasm as they get older. (In fact, I'm tempted to say that this one is not just "common" but universal.)

My guess is that five or ten years ago your guy would have been like "I come faster when I'm masturbating, but with a partner I still come eventually," and now aging has pushed him over the line to "I can come when I'm masturbating, but with a partner I can't come at all."
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:05 AM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


A year? A year is a long time...unless you only have sex once a month or something like that. My fiance has that problem sometimes (if we've just had sex and he had a huge orgasm the night before, for example), but the sex is still enjoyable and we just have good humor about "having to try again later!" But a year seems like a big problem. So my next question would be echoing acm's point: how often does he masterbate? The suggestion of him (at least temporarily) cutting out that activity is a good one. If he doesn't climax for awhile at all, he probably will achieve it with you pretty quickly. Give that your first test. If that fails, a doctor visit is not a bad idea.
posted by Eicats at 8:06 AM on November 5, 2012


How does he feel about it? Is he stressing? If so, it's creating a vicious cycle...he's stressing about it which makes it happen again and so on. My philosophy, having the female equivalent of your BFs problem, is that if it happens, great! If not, we still had fun. It took a lot for me to get out of my own head and just be in the moment.

And you can't make him go get it checked out, but you can incentivize it...tease him with a reward for after he's gone to the doctor.
posted by altopower at 8:07 AM on November 5, 2012


When one person has a problem that is seriously impacting an area of the relationship - ANY AREA - and causing distress to their partner, AND refuses to seek treatment to address the situation, that is so far from the "ridiculous" line for dealbreakers it isn't even funny.

This isn't about his cock; it's about how the two of you face problems in the relationship. If he can't step up, you're entirely right to fear that this does not bode well for the future.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:08 AM on November 5, 2012 [23 favorites]


Seems as though the problem space isn't completely mapped out, at least according to how you phrased the question.

Can he cum when you're there, but not touching him? Say he was watching porn and you were watching him. How would that play out?

I guess my question is whether or not it's your presence itself that's interfering.
posted by blue t-shirt at 8:09 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's totally understandable for you to be bothered.

I don't really recommend telling him to cut down on his porn or masturbatory rituals, as that will likely be met with resistance bordering on hostility. What I would suggest is joining in.

Rather than trying to crack his code, as it were, why not inject yourself into situations where he is already successfully unloading? Try watching porn together, masturbating together (pay careful attention to what he's doing to himself, for your future reference)

Your magic words should be "Show Me" -- he clearly already knows how to come, his problem is feeling comfortable/sexy enough to do it around you. Try to get him into a place of supported, non-stressful, erotic safety, where he can do his thing in your presence.

The order should be getting him to come for you, then with you, and then, finally, from you.
posted by sarastro at 8:10 AM on November 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


Think on the positive side. If he were prematurely ejaculating, wouldn't you be immeasurably less happy than your current situation? There are probably a lot of women out their wishing their guy had the same "problem" yours does.
posted by Dansaman at 8:11 AM on November 5, 2012


I disagree with OmieWise. This is a reasonable deal-breaker and the issue is bothering the OP. Here's what I would guess - there are a number of different ways that we express and want to have love expressed to us, and one of them is acts. I do something for you, you recognize it. My love has been expressed and received. If I am prevented from doing something for you, then you don't accept my love or I'm being prevent from expressing it. That's not great and most certainly is a deal-breaker if it doesn't get addressed.

Yes, OP, try to get your BF to see someone about this. Can he ejaculate for you? Can he ejaculate blindfolded with you there? If either of those are yes, you might start from there and start getting your hands involved when he starts to ejaculate and transition to you taking over when he gets close, which can get more to you taking over sooner/from the start.

Another option is Hitachi magic wand. It's a good tool to have in your arsenal.
posted by plinth at 8:13 AM on November 5, 2012


Your problem is not the lack of ejaculation -- there are plenty of women out there who can only orgasm on their own but still have rich and fulfilling sex lives -- but rather the guilt it appears that he's laying upon you. Do you literally mean that he can't/won't do it around you, ie he can't rub one out if you're even in the room? That's much more problematic than you not being able to do it during PIV intercourse.
posted by modernserf at 8:35 AM on November 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


You say he doesn't ejaculate. Can we assume he does get erect?

I would suspect there's something underlying his response/relationship to you that is getting in the way of his fully responding to your activity. He may simply be scared to bring it up with you. It could be damn near anything, and could easily be something really tiny and seemingly inconsequential. He's fixated on it and it's become a roadblock for him.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:04 AM on November 5, 2012


I was in a relationship with a similar problem, only he claimed that he wasn't able to finish with anybody. He was not able to ejaculate from any kind of stimulation that was being controlled by me. So bj's always went on and on forever until he had to stop me (which made me feel bad). Handjobs did nothing. Even with penetration, if it was PIV and I was the one controlling the rhythm or movements, he wouldn't be able to finish. Our sex life pretty much became a routine of extended foreplay for me, and then ended in like ten minutes of him masturbating furiously or penetrating me while I lay there motionless so as not to interfere with his rhythm... which wasn't exactly my cup of tea.

I don't really have an answer to your question, but I wanted to weigh in with my experiences to let you know that you're not alone, and that this isn't a ridiculous thing at all! If you're able to somehow convince yourself that him not ejaculating doesn't diminish his pleasure, then that's really great! But it's not abnormal for this kind of bizarre dynamic to start making you feel unsexy or unfulfilled.
posted by ohmy at 9:46 AM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I just going to toss this out there and see if it resonates with you:

The last guy I had this issue with had a problem with (as Dan Savage calls it) the Death Grip. The Death Grip is when a man becomes accustom to gripping himself so hard when he masturbates, that it becomes necessary for ejaculation. Since vaginas will never be as tight as his hand, it makes it near impossible to "finish" with a woman. Here is an excerpt from a guy that wrote in to him about this:

Well, unfortunately, I read your excellent advice too late. About 30 years too late. So now, while women think it's cool that I can "stay hard all night," they eventually start to get a complex about the fact that, though they're having orgasms galore, they can't seem to make me come. It's not them, of course. It's the years and years and years of death-grip masturbation.

Dan's response:

You'll have to swear off the death grip forever, ABF, if you want your dick to respond to more subtle sensations. When you jerk off, use a light touch and let it take as long as necessary--and it may take a while. When you're with a woman, fuck her brains out and give her orgasms galore, and when it's time for you to come--the moment you're used to taking matters into your own hands and finishing yourself off with the death grip--force yourself to use her body or her mouth or her pussy, or, if you must use your own hand, use that same light touch you've been practicing with when you beat off. If you don't come, well, tough shit, you don't get to come. To avoid giving the women you're with complexes, warn them in advance that you're trying to retrain your dick. While this approach may be frustrating in the short run, in the long run only this approach--a light touch, a firm resolve, and consistent denial--will kick your dick's dormant nerve endings into gear.

posted by Shouraku at 10:08 AM on November 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


DarlingBri: When one person has a problem that is seriously impacting an area of the relationship - ANY AREA - and causing distress to their partner, AND refuses to seek treatment to address the situation, that is so far from the "ridiculous" line for dealbreakers it isn't even funny.

This isn't about his cock; it's about how the two of you face problems in the relationship. If he can't step up, you're entirely right to fear that this does not bode well for the future.
EVERYTHING DarlingBri said.

Here's the blatant truth: there are only two possible answers to "Honey, I think we/you need counseling for this problem that is affecting our relationship."

1. "Gosh, maybe you're right. I'll look into it/go with you."

2. "Our relationship isn't that important to me. You'll have to either suffer along like this forever, or dump me."

"Dragging his feet" is a nice way of saying "not doing it." Ergo, he's using the second answer. Make it clear, then make your call.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:13 AM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Mod note: This is a followup from the asker.
We've tried the blindfolding thing and him masturbating in front of me -- if he could do that, this would be a non-issue. If I'm even in the same building as him, he can't do it. He's also tried not masturbating for an extended period -- still no dice.

I've tried very hard not to put pressure on him (since I know just how unsexy that can be), but him not taking any steps toward working through this is making me feel very frustrated.

Thank you so much for your commiseration and ideas! I really appreciate it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:18 AM on November 5, 2012


It doesn't seem unreasonable to me -- giving pleasure is an important part of sexual intimacy. Plus, it's odd that it's so specific to you (or at least it would feel odd to me).

I disagree. There are millions of women who suffer from an inability to have an orgasm. Yet we do not think that the partners of these women should leave them.

Objective scientists have looked at this problem and it is most definitely a psychological one. He should contact a sex therapist to work through this problem.

He needs your support. Also as any woman who has faked an orgasm knows, the fact that he doesn't have an orgasm doesn't mean that he does not enjoy or love sex with you.

Did anything happen a year ago that might have contributed to this--a situation that may have caused some psychological trauma to him or caused a rift between you two in a sexual sense?
posted by Ironmouth at 11:29 AM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Also, Dan Savage is not a medical professional. He is a writer. Please don't take his word for anything on this disorder, which actual doctors have looked at.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:30 AM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


For the record, I'm not saying that *achieving orgasm* is critical for sexual relationships, but feeling that you are capable of giving your partner *pleasure* is. The OP was asking whether she was crazy to be bothered, and I said I thought no, since she's in a situation framed as her specific inability to give her partner a type of pleasure he can achieve in other ways. It might still be true that the solution is adapting rather than worrying about "fixing" one's partner/activity, but I'd sure be concerned about this as a symptom of something in our relationship, and I'd want to put at least some nontrivial effort into exploring that, whether sexually, psychologically, or otherwise. As a team.
posted by acm at 11:43 AM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The most likely explanation why he doesn't want to go to see a doctor, psychiatrist, etc. is because he is afraid or ashamed to do that.

Is it possible that your boyfriend is keeping something pivotal to his sexuality secret from you? Something he needs to ejaculate that you just don't know about?

Think carefully, because he would naturally be trying to hide whatever it is if he has not come to terms with it himself, especially if he is ashamed.

The natural inclination is for everyone to assume he has some porn addiction/death grip deal going on when he masturbates, and that's what's getting in the way. But there are lots of other possibilities:
He is sexually attracted to men.
He has fantasies of hurting himself.
He has fantasies of hurting his partner.
He has a fetish--anything from an object of clothing to a physical preference to exhibitionism, etc.
He could even be sexually attracted to children.

Thing is, we can't know why he is having this problem, and neither can you, if he is not willing to see a professional about it. There's not much you can do at this point. You're a year into this already.

He is not being, as Dan Savage would say, Good, Giving and Game. By asking you to continue to live a life that is sexually frustrating for you, and not doing anything on his side to try to change things, he is just being incredibly selfish.

I think you may just have to concede that, in order for you to be sexually fulfilled, you need to let this relationship go and find someone whose needs are closer to your own (or at least someone who is willing to work on finding common ground).
posted by misha at 12:31 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry to say this, but I find this a little sad. If making your partner orgasm is that important to you, then find another guy who can give that to you, and don't try to force the poor guy to orgasm for your pleasure...that's just messed up considering the mechanism of an orgasm and the nature of sex, not to mention how he didn't have problems with previous girlfriends. If this is a deal breaker, then admit that to yourself, and move on. But if you really want this relationship to continue because it's more than just sex, then you have to let your boyfriend deal with this on his own terms in his own time. I can only imagine that this is psychological, and your dissatisfaction to this extent (no matter how much you think you're masking it), and your urging him to go see a therapist is only going to worsen the situation, if not the cause of this whole thing. Sex shouldn't be about satisfying your ego, and frankly I don't like how some people think this is a problem on the boyfriend's side for his unwillingness to "fix" this situation. We're talking about his body and his pleasure, and if he's fine with it for now, then he should be left alone, and if you can't deal with that, (which at the risk of sounding offensive, is quite disrespectful in my opinion...I mean he's not your sex toy) just break up with him. And I have to wonder, if the role was reversed and a guy was asking this question, he would be attacked like there's no tomorrow...
posted by snufkin5 at 12:34 PM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sex shouldn't be about satisfying your ego, and frankly I don't like how some people think this is a problem on the boyfriend's side for his unwillingness to "fix" this situation. We're talking about his body and his pleasure, and if he's fine with it for now, then he should be left alone, and if you can't deal with that, (which at the risk of sounding offensive, is quite disrespectful in my opinion...I mean he's not your sex toy) just break up with him. And I have to wonder, if the role was reversed and a guy was asking this question, he would be attacked like there's no tomorrow...

I don't think anyone's attacking the OP or OP's boyfriend at all. Rather, we're saying that if she needs something to satisfy her sexually and the boyfriend is not at least amenable to trying to do that thing she needs--which is not all that unusual a thing, either--than she probably needs to move on.

If her boyfriend had told the OP that he was simply unable to achieve orgasm from sex with a partner but he was satisfied with that outcome and the OP wouldn't accept that, that would be a completely different question, with different answers. Instead, the boyfriend says, yeah, this is a problem I only have with you, and that's why the OP is getting these answers.

Postulating an entirely different scenario where you get to admonish the OP and attack the people answering the actual question is not going to help anyone.
posted by misha at 12:52 PM on November 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


One thing to consider, he does make some appointment and starts seeing a sex therapist. It takes years for him to work through what is going on. What is happening to you during those years? If you're still feeling resentment it's going to show, and it's pretty much guaranteed to mess up his progress.

There are men for whom not being able to give a woman an orgasm with only PIV sex is a deal breaker (ask me how I know...). It's become entangled with their ideas of manliness and virility, and since most women are apparently happy to fake it, they never have to question it. If your boyfriend could fake ejaculating he would!

I'm not saying stick with him, if he had depression or a physical ailment and was refusing to deal with it that would certainly be just as aggravating. I wouldn't enjoy having a sex life like the one ohmy describes. You may find it helpful to sort out why this is such an issue for you and whether it's his inability to confront problems or something more about your own issues with sex that's the problem here.

As for having kids, if he's able to orgasm when you aren't in the building, you'd still be able to have kids. If you are only willing to conceive children if it's during a mutual act of sex, then no, but would you be having the same resentment if he was paralysed and it would only be possible with outside help?
posted by Dynex at 1:00 PM on November 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


He is not being, as Dan Savage would say, Good, Giving and Game. By asking you to continue to live a life that is sexually frustrating for you, and not doing anything on his side to try to change things, he is just being incredibly selfish.

not being able to ejaculate with a partner is not GGG? no, that's not how it's suppose to work.

it doesn't sound like you've really given him the room he needs to relax with you. he can't get off if you're even in the same building? did you try it multiple time: you there, him masturbating? or you, in another room, him jerking off while you read a magazine, or something? that's what you need to work on first.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:37 PM on November 5, 2012


I disagree. There are millions of women who suffer from an inability to have an orgasm. Yet we do not think that the partners of these women should leave them.

This is not a partner who is flatly anorgasmic. This is a partner who previously could have an orgasm and now cannot. Something that was previously functional has departed its default state and is now broken. It could be physical, it could be emotional, it could be death grip, it could be any number of things but if he's 100% not willing to get some professional advice, it isn't going to get fixed.

And FWIW if the genders were reversed and a female partner who could previously climax now could not and was unwilling to see her doctor, I'd be similarly unimpressed. If she'd never orgasmed but was willing to try vibrators, masturbation, porn, and a doctor vist and none of that worked, I'd say fine, everyone engaged in good faith and best effort and now it is time to shift the context of this couple's sex and make a new kind of happy. That is not what is happening here.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:29 PM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Relationships are about communication and 'begging him to see a urologist' isn't communication insofar as it is an act of sexual sentencing. You're saying to him 'I'm the judge and jury of your cum and have come to the decision that it needs serious rehabilitation.'

Is his not ejaculating impacting your libido? Tell him that. Word for word. When you beg him to see a health professional for something that he doesn't think is much of an issue, you aren't communicating to him, you're blaming him and making him feel guilty for something. It's not an attractive quality for him to procrastinate but it's understandable because it's his dick, it's a physical issue, and as you're probably well aware, it's a sensitive area (or used to be).

If everything else is good in your relationship and you tell him, verbatim, that it's really worrying you and decreasing your libido and that it might be a dealbreaker (ie if you have an honest discussion with him about your shared sex life), then you have the moral high ground. If he still drags his feet then it's not a ridiculous dealbreaker; it's a sign that it might be close to over and you have every right to break it off. But until you talk to him honestly and you get him to admit to you his honest feelings about his dickssues, it's unfair for you to single him out for sexual impotency and push him to seek professional help.
posted by dubusadus at 5:55 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think you'll be better served, OP, by moving on to someone who can give you what you want. It's completely OK to need a specific something to get you to where you want to be. It's rather less OK to stay with someone and expect them to give you something that they can't or won't give you. If you do that, you're setting both people in the relationship up for hurt.

I also think that your boyfriend's body and how it works belongs to him. It's up to him to make the decision to do X, Y and Z with it, or make the decision not to. And ultimately, you have to respect whatever decision he makes, whether you agree with it or not. Remember that it's completely OK to break off a relationship because you're not sexually compatible.

Trying to logic your sex drive is probably going to be fruitless. You need a specific thing, and that's OK. You could maybe go down the route of aversion therapy, but that's the only (supposed) method of altering one's sexual responses that springs to mind.
posted by Solomon at 11:13 AM on November 8, 2012


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