How To Talk About Difficulty Orgasming

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 talk about orgasms with your partner.

Q: I’ve just started sleeping with someone new. I’ve never had an orgasm with a partner, but I can have them on my own. I’ve also never talked to a partner about my orgasms (or lack thereof). I’ve finally worked up the nerve to bring up the subject, but I’m worried about what kind of response I’ll get. I want to keep it simple, like, "I haven’t orgasmed with a partner yet, but I really want to explore with you." Is this a good idea? How can I prepare myself?

A: Thanks for the question! First of all, congrats on being brave enough to bring this up! So many women feel too embarrassed to talk about their orgasms with their partners, so they wind up staying silent or faking orgasm. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s important for all of us to recognize that our pleasure is important, that our partners should value our pleasure too, and that talking about orgasm should feel empowering, not embarrassing.

One of the side benefits to having this conversation is that it can be a real litmus test of whether or not this partner is worth keeping around. I think your idea of what to say is great. It’s simple and to the point, and sets your partner’s expectations.

Now, let’s go over seven responses partners have when you bring this up that I’ve come across in my work helping women learn how to orgasm. I’ll give you the run-down on what each of these responses might mean, and help you figure out where to guide the conversation to next.

Possible Response #1: “Cool, I want to explore with you too.”

I’m crossing my fingers that this is the response you’ll get. It is the response that you (and every other woman out there) deserve to get. Any sort of positive, enthusiastic, or breezy response is a sign that you’ve got a great partner on your hands. Say, “thanks for being so great about it. I have to admit, I was a little nervous to bring it up, but I’m glad I did.”

Possible Response #2: “What would you like me to do?”

Your partner might ask about your likes and dislikes right off the bat. They might be feeling a bit anxious about wanting to please you, or they might just be excited about getting started with the exploration. Whenever you feel comfortable, share with your partner what you’ve learned from your experiences with masturbation or past partners.

For example, if you’re ready to jump right in, you can say something like, “well, I’ve learned this one stroke that I really like. Want me to show you?” Or stick with something more general, like, “I know oral is definitely the best way for me to get there.”

Possible Response # 3: “I’ve never had any complaints before, so I’m sure you’ll be just fine.”

This one gets into slippery territory, so it’s all about the delivery. It might be that your partner has confidence in their sexual skills, and spends a lot of time catering to what their partners like and need. If the response is delivered in a really friendly and upbeat manner, you can say something like, “that’s great. I know different women need different things to get there, but it will be fun to explore.”

If, on the other hand, the response comes off as cocky or standoffish, it might be a sign that your partner doesn’t actually care whether or not you’re enjoying yourself. Try pushing the issue a little further by saying something like, “but you know everyone is different, right?” If the bravado doesn’t go away, it might be time to reconsider if this person is worth hooking up with.

Possibile Response #4: “Ohh, OK.” [Turns Bright Red]

There’s a very real possibility that this could be the first time your partner has talked to another person about orgasms. They might be a bit caught off guard or embarrassed. Unless they act cold or dismissive, I think it’s good to give your partner the benefit of the doubt, and assume that any awkwardness is more about their sexual hang-ups than it is about you.

Say something like, “I know, it’s a little embarrassing to talk about, but I’m trying to get more comfortable talking about sex.”

Possible Response #5: “I know that most women have a hard time with orgasm.”

This is another one that depends on the context. I’ve worked with some couples where the partner wanted to make the woman feel less self-conscious about the fact that she hadn’t orgasmed with another person. The partner would say something like this in an attempt to empathize with their partner, in a, “don’t worry about it, you’re not alone” kind of way. Sometimes it would make the woman feel better, and sometimes it would make her feel put off, but the bottom line is that it was coming from a genuine place.

On the other hand, I’ve also heard this statement uttered in pretty dismissive ways. What the partner actually meant was, “I don’t even want to bother trying, because I bet it won’t happen.” It should go without saying that a partner who believes that isn’t worth your time.

If you’re not sure of your partner’s intentions, say something like, “some women do, but I still want to try.”

Possible Response #6: “But I need my partners to orgasm.”

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who turn making their partner orgasm into a personal ego trip. They care more about feeling like a master in the sack than they do about giving you pleasure.

Say something like, “it’s great that you’re so invested in it, but I want to make sure we’re on the same page here. If I’m feeling pressured or expected to orgasm, I’m sure that’s going to make it a lot harder to actually get there.” If your partner can’t see the distinction, don’t let your body serve as their trophy.

Possible Response #7: Stony Silence, “That’s weird,” or “Ew, no.”

Any sort of rude, dismissive, or cruel response is a clear sign that this person doesn’t deserve to get anywhere near your pants. Let them know you don’t appreciate the attitude, and send them on their way.

Call me an optimist, but I think you’re far more likely to get a positive response than a negative one. Sex can be uncomfortable to talk about honestly, but I like to believe that most people want to be generous and caring partners. Wishing you the best of luck!

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