What Sex Is Like When Your Partner Doesn't Finish

Of all the wonderful things about sex — intimacy, passion, pleasure, stress relief — orgasms are almost certainly at the top of everyone's list of things they love about sex. And who can blame them? There's no shame in admitting that it feels good to come — it's part of human nature to enjoy that release. But what happens when you're with a partner who seems to have difficulty reaching orgasm?

Personally, I haven't been in a long-term relationship with a partner who had trouble finishing, but I have had the issue come up several times during casual sex. When this happens, it's always the same routine: Things seem to be going well, but as time goes on and he doesn't seem to be getting any closer, he either starts getting soft or simply stops altogether, knowing things aren't really going as planned. In both of these cases, the guys I've been with have had an apologetic, defeatist attitude: They feel sh*tty for "failing" you, and emasculated because they can't do something that all men are supposed to be experts at.

To be fair, many women also feel this way when they're having a hard time orgasming. I know from experience that I've told guys that "sometimes it's just difficult" and "not to worry about it too much" because (usually) it really, truly is not a reflection on them. But the older I've gotten, the more I've realized that there's a double standard when it comes to not finishing in bed. When a woman climaxes it's like an added bonus, and if she doesn't, that's seemingly "normal." On the flip side, when a man doesn't get off, it's like something went terribly wrong, and somehow he is dysfunctional or at fault.

We've all heard of the the orgasm gap, and it's largely true: Almost always, men finish during sex, while women finish way less often, especially when it comes to casual sex. Though this is disproportionately unfair to women (we get less orgasms, duh!), it also has an effect on men: When faced with erectile dysfunction issues, they face a ton of pressure and feel unnecessarily bad about themselves, thinking that they're "weird" or less of a man because they can't come.

There are problems with both scenarios, and the root is this: Sex should be about mutual pleasure. Of course, in an ideal world, men and women alike would recognize this, no one would feel ashamed about anything that happens during sex, and everyone would feel empowered enough to communicate what they want and need to get off.

The reality is though, that sh*t happens, and sometimes — whether you're a man or woman — you simply have a hard time getting off during sex. Here are three things I've learned about having sex with someone who has difficulty reaching orgasm.

1. It's Not A Reflection On You

Say it with me: I didn't do anything wrong. While it's easy to feel at fault for your partner's inability to reach orgasm, the fact of the matter is that this is almost never the case. Whether it's nerves, stress, the fact that they already masturbated three times that day...there are so many reasons why your partner might be unable to climax, and I'm positive that 99 percent of the time it has nothing to do with you not being "good enough" at sex. If you're both making an honest effort to get each other off — focusing on foreplay, using toys, communicating about what feels good — and it's still not happening, you shouldn't take it personally. Orgasms are physical and mental, and the culprit is most likely some external factor, not you.

2. Men Get Insecure, Too

While there's a bit of a stigma that women are the ones who are "insecure" in bed, these same insecurities and doubts plague men, too. As with all complications that arise during sex, everything should be handled in a mature, supportive way. Especially when it comes things like premature ejaculation, loss of erection, or trouble climaxing, it's extremely likely that the guy will be ashamed or embarrassed at his inability to "perform." If he is having difficulty maintaining an erection or simply can't come, the best thing you, as a partner, can do is reassure him that it doesn't make you think he's any less sexy, and offer to work on the issue together in the future. The same goes for women: If you've done everything in your power and she's not getting there, reassure her that it's totally okay. (Pro tip: try mutual masturbation to learn each other's turn-ons.)

3. It Doesn't 'Ruin' Sex

Yeah, orgasms feel great, but even without climax, sex is still fun, intimate, and a worthwhile activity. Neither you nor your partner should feel that the evening was "wasted" simply because one (or both of you) had a little trouble getting off. Of course, if this is a pattern, you might want to consult a sex therapist or medical expert to get to the bottom of why you or your partner is having problems with your orgasms. But remember that good sex is not synonymous with having an orgasm, and there can still be plenty of pleasure in the meanwhile.

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