We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto today's topic: how to deal when you can't come with a partner.
Q: I’m bi, but all of my hookups and relationships in 2015 were with women. I’ve never had an orgasm with a partner, regardless of their gender (I can orgasm on my own though). It’s frustrating, but I’ve noticed that it’s even worse when I’m with a female partner. When I first started hooking up with women, I thought another woman would be more understanding of my orgasmic challenges than a man would, but I’ve found that the opposite is true. My female partners have been shocked that I can’t orgasm and they’ve gotten frustrated with me for it. I’m sick of hearing that lesbians are easily orgasmic. How should I deal with this?
A: Thanks for the question! I’m really sorry you’ve had such frustrating experiences with your partners. Yes, one study did find that lesbians have more orgasms than straight women, on average. We all know that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, but it can feel ridiculously hard not to sometimes (especially when there are statistics involved). Here are seven steps to get over orgasm envy and talk with your partner about your orgasm.
1. Celebrate Your Victories
The good news here is that you’re able to have orgasms! I work with a lot of women who have never had an orgasm before, and I can tell you that so many women would give up a limb to be in your place, even if you haven't come with a partner. I know I just said not to compare yourself to others, but I think it’s healthy to celebrate the fact that you’re able to make yourself come. Plus, it’s a great sign that you can eventually learn how to have orgasms with a partner around.
2. Set Expectations
I’m not sure if you’re in a relationship or hookup situation now, but it’s worth being upfront with your next partner about the fact that orgasming is tricky for you. Nothing’s wrong with you, and you don’t have to apologize for yourself beforehand. Instead, try to see this as an opportunity to let your partner know what does feel good for you and how you’d like to spend your time together.
Once it looks like the two of you are moving towards being intimate, you can say something like, “It’s hard for me to orgasm with a partner, so I want you to know that it probably won’t happen. But I really enjoy... ” Finish off that sentence by letting your partner know what kinds of activities you like. For example, “I love having my nipples played with” or “I think it would be really hot to have you use a vibrator on me.”
3. Share Your Feelings
If you feel nervous being so upfront with a new partner, you can also share how the reactions of past partners made you feel. This can feel vulnerable in the moment, but it sets your partner up to be more sensitive than your other partners have been.
Say something along the lines of, “I’ve had partners in the past who weren’t very supportive and made me feel bad about not being able to orgasm.” Or say something like, “I’ll be able to relax so much more if you let me know you’re enjoying pleasuring me.” You can also ask if your partner has had similar experiences with their orgasms. Maybe the two of you can relate to each other!
4. Give Feedback
One issue that comes up with almost every sexually active adult is the tendency to assume that all women (or all men) like the same thing. We’re all so anxious about pleasing our partners and being perceived as “good in bed” that we tend to latch onto techniques that we think work. If you’re a woman having sex with women (or a man having sex with men, for that matter), it’s even easier to assume that you know what to do. Some women think, “oh, I have these parts, I know what to do with them.”
To combat these patterns, try to focus on giving your partner feedback about what is and isn’t working for you. Something as simple as “a little bit faster” or “go back to my clit” works wonders. Even “keep doing that” is great! Or tell your partners what you like beforehand. For example, “I’m really into playing with strap-ons. Are you into that?”
5. Masturbate Together
Since you’re able to orgasm on your own, one of the best things you can do with your partners is masturbate together. Your orgasms don’t have to come from your partner’s hands or mouth to feel good! Masturbating together can be incredibly hot. Do it at the same time if you feel shy, or put on a show for each other one at time. If masturbating feels a little lonely, you can kiss each other and use your spare hands on each other. Plus, this is a fantastic way to show your partner what you like and teach them how to get you off.
6. Focus On Your Partner’s Pleasure, Not Their Orgasm
Another way for you to get the message across that sex is about more than orgasm is to practice having that attitude with your partners. Spend your energy trying to bring your partner as much pleasure as possible, but without getting attached to making her orgasm. As you’re stimulating your partner, pay attention to what it feels like for you. Notice the different textures of your partner’s skin under your fingertips, or the nuances of her taste in your mouth.
In your conversations with your partner, you can introduce this idea by saying something like, “I feel like so many of my relationships have been overly orgasm-focused, and I’d love if we spent more or our energy simply trying to make each other feel good.” Even if your partner can easily orgasm with partners, I can guarantee she’ll appreciate this approach.
7. Don’t Put Up With Orgasm Shaming
The treatment you’ve received from past partners who've made you feel bad about not orgasming with them is pretty damn crappy. It’s not OK to make another person feel bad about their body, or judge them for how their body works. Anyone who belittles you, regardless of their gender, is a person who is not worth your time. Try your best not to internalize the shame that your partners tried to inflict on you. I promise you’ll find a partner who will have the utmost respect for your body and your pleasure.
If you're interested in learning more, check out my online course - Finishing School: Orgasm With A Partner!
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.
Images: Bustle; Giphy