Don't try so hard, but don't NOT try either!
May 28, 2014 10:25 AM   Subscribe

I have trouble achieving orgasm, but it doesn't really bother me. However, apparently it bothers other people a whole lot. How can I explain all this in a way that will make sense to others?

(Bisexual cis female, late 20s.)

I didn't have an orgasm, even on my own, until age 22, and not with a partner until two years after that. And now I'm on medication which pretty seriously impacts my ability to orgasm. These days, I can do it while masturbating maybe 40-60% of the time. During sex, it's a lot harder, but it does happen sometimes.

I don't have a partner these days, but I date and have sex a fair bit. And the vast majority of people have one of two responses to this information: it's either "I'm going to make you come!" or it's "I don't even have to TRY to make you come!"

The second response sucks for obvious reasons. Luckily more people are of the "ooo let me try" variety, but when I know that a person is just hoping so much that they'll be the one to blow my mind, all I can think of is their needs, not my own. I don't feel like I'm "allowed" to not come, like I will disappoint them terribly if I don't, and then I'm in my head and it's just never going to happen, ever.

My ideal sex is to play around and enjoy myself and if it happens, it happens, and if it doesn't happen then who gives a shit, I still had fun. I LOVE sex, orgasm or no orgasm. But people just don't seem to hear this and believe it very often, and I don't know how to explain to them that the only way for me to come is if they're not so focused on making me come but still do stuff that might make me come, and then I feel like I'm more trouble than I'm worth! How on earth do I get this information across in a way that will make sense to people who've never had this issue in their life?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

With a smile: "You know that kind of pressure isn't going to help at all, right? Because that kind of pressure really isn't going to help at all. Let's just have some fun!"
posted by juliplease at 10:45 AM on May 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Don't tell your partners. Just have your fun, and if you come, bonus. If they get all "So didja?" just say, "I enjoyed myself. Very much," and smile coyly.
posted by Etrigan at 10:46 AM on May 28, 2014 [7 favorites]

It sounds like you are telling them up front. If so, I suggest you stop doing that. Just make-out and see where things go. Explain if it comes up as an issue.

I know that can be hard to do. I know exactly why you want to tell them ahead of time. But announcing it up front, ahead of time turns it into An Issue.

The other way to get around that issue -- of the up front announcement turning it into a big deal when you don't want that -- is to make it kind of "common knowledge" so they know ahead of time without having it be some special announcement of this Big Issue just for them. Unfortunately, this sort of issue is not easily made "common knowledge" the way, say, my medical condition can be made "common knowledge" and stop having it be a big freak out moment for potential romantic partners. Your sexual particulars are not generally the sort of thing you casually joke about IRL.

So I would go with just enjoying yourself and getting your freak on and if you get to some point during sex and it hasn't happened and they comment on it, as casually as possible, let them know that "oh, yeah, due to medication I am on and for some other reasons, I often can't reach the big O. But I am really enjoying making out with you. Can we just go back to that and not worry too much about if I do or don't? I mean, effort is appreciated but trying too hard really kills my buzz, you know?"

Also, focus on telling them what you do want out of them. Let them know you value the hugging, kissing or whatever it is you actually value. Let them know that X thing gives you something you need even if orgasm is not part of what you wind up with. That will help give them a "goal" that is not exclusively The Big O and will help defray the focus on that.

I used to have this issue with a partner. I never had a single orgasm with my first boyfriend at age 17. I don't think he really noticed. I don't recall it being anything we worked on or whatever. I liked having sex anyway. I liked being touched all over and things I could not get from masturbation (where I did orgasm). I did work on it with my next boyfriend, but that was a committed relationship and he knew my history and we had been best friends ahead of time.

Anyway, I know it is super hard to be casual about a conversation like that while in the heat of the moment, but if I were you, I would try that and see if the success rate was better than whatever you are currently doing.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 10:46 AM on May 28, 2014

How are you presenting this information? I mean it doesnt seem like something you need to open with on a date. That's the only thing I can think of the way you've written this. If you enjoy the person and enjoy sex and it's a casual dating relationship, then why not just get busy and not even being up the issue of a technical "orgasm." If anything just say "oh that was so much fun!" And if they ask about your climax you can say something like "my body is a little different so even though I enjoy something I may not get there even if it's amazing."

But again, I don't know why this is A Thing you're bringing up. If you don't bring it up you won't get those responses. I think it's a talk best saved for slightly longer/deeper relationships when you need to communicate about this thing more.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:51 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am in a similar boat, right down to the medication that makes it hard to come. Let me tell you, breaking up with my "I am GOING to make you come" boyfriend was such an incredible relief.

I LOVE sex, orgasm or no orgasm. I've had luck saying exactly this, more or less. Put it right out in the open once sex is on the table, and keep repeating it as long as you need to, with a smile. I've also had good luck phrasing it as "you don't have to feel pressured to make me come." Also, offer positive reinforcement when the other person does do something that excites you. Say outright "I like having my nipples touched" or "stroke me there" or whatever, and show your excitement with your expressions, your body language, the way you move. Let your partner know what to look for to show that you're excited. Do you make particular noises? Move a certain way? Frame those signs of pleasure not as "this is what I do when I'm on my way to coming" but rather as "this is how I show I'm having fun and you should keep doing what you're doing, or follow my lead."

I would not advise not saying anything to your partners and being coy. Good communication about your needs in a relationship is incredibly hot, and it'll make it easier to shake off the high pressure, "I am going to make you come, dammit!" guys. I've found that that kind of single-minded determination to make me come can be a red flag that carries over to other areas of dating. If a guy can't take me at my word about my own sexual desires, that can be a sign that he won't take me at my word about other topics. If he treats his ability to make me orgasm as some sort of difficult test and makes me feel pressured to try...well, that's prioritizing his need to prove his masculinity over my pleasure, is it not?
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:56 AM on May 28, 2014 [8 favorites]

One thing I've found useful is to try to make it clear to partners that this is what sex is like for me-- it often doesn't involve an orgasm, and that's not a thing that I put up with or tolerate, that is the way I live and always have. Moreover, if I am a person who likes sex a lot (and I am!), it is because I have so much enjoyed having exactly this kind of sex for the last howevermany years of my life, and I neither need nor expect that to change.

I agree with ActionPopulated that it's not a good idea to be coy or incommunicative about this; it's not a good idea to misrepresent your experience of sex even to a casual partner, which is effectively what you're doing when imply that you did orgasm (which is, in my experience, how most people will understand responses like "I enjoyed myself very much.") That might be fine for a one-night stand if you just don't want to deal with it, but if your dating situation includes people you're seeing casually but semi-regularly, being coy will not help you have better sex with those people.
posted by dizziest at 11:30 AM on May 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Both of those suck and it would be awesome if people just accepted that the way your body works is the way your body works and let it be, but unfortunately, as you know, that's probably not going to happen.

I would either explain that you enjoy the act of sex even if you don't have an orgasm and you're fine with how your body works or, if you don't feel like doing that (which is reasonable, you shouldn't have to), if you get to a point where you feel like you're done/ready to stop, maybe use the term "finished" instead of "orgasmed" since it's not an actual lie and you can determine your own definition for "finished".
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:56 AM on May 28, 2014

How are you presenting this information? I mean it doesnt seem like something you need to open with on a date. That's the only thing I can think of the way you've written this.

In my experience it's usually like
"did you???"
"no, but that's pretty normal, I had fun though!"
"...oh. :( :( :("
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:06 PM on May 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Can you turn it into a hijinks-type game? Where there's like, a penalty for you if you DO come? Or whatever set of incentives might turn the pressure off by just the right amount?
posted by feral_goldfish at 12:53 PM on May 28, 2014

I think it's an opportunity for a conversation about the difference between a goal and a journey because if you make it clear that you're there for the journey then the "goal or be damned" people should take the cue to back off on the intensity to let everyone enjoy the scenery and the "I don't have to try!" should take the cue to come along on the trip.
posted by plinth at 1:43 PM on May 28, 2014

Either omit the information or convey it along the lines of shyness: "my orgasms are a bit skittish and only come out when nobody's looking". People tend to understand shyness better.
posted by ead at 10:17 AM on May 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

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