Can't Orgasm During Sex? 7 Ways To Let Go And Let Your Partner Pleasure You

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We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship . But how often do we actually hear the nitty-gritty details of how we might actually achieve those things? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the specifics. This week’s topic: How to orgasm during sex with your partner — without helping.

Q: I'm able to orgasm on my own, and can climax during sex by using my own hand or a vibrator. I enjoy it when my boyfriend touches me and goes down on me, but I never orgasm. Sometimes I feel really close, but I can never quite get there when he's doing the driving. I try to give directions, but I’m wondering if it’s more mental than about technique. We've been together almost a year, so I'd kind of like to be able to release control with him. How can I learn to let him make me come?

A: There are a million different factors that can make reaching orgasm difficult — the wrong type of stimulation, lack of information, insufficient communication, bad positioning, or not giving yourself enough time — but it does seem likely that the problem you’re having involves mental blockages.

Orgasm is a mental experience as much as a physical one. Sometimes it can feel like there’s an incredibly narrow window of acceptable mental actions. If you think about it too much — “am I close yet? Is it going to happen this time? Is my partner getting bored?” — you may have a difficult time reaching a climax or enjoying yourself. If you don’t think about it enough — “are those clothes dirty or clean? Did I forget to water the plants?” — you won’t come. So what are you supposed to do in a situation where you can't seem to relax?

The trick is to find better ways to occupy your brain during sex. Here are seven tips for keeping your mind on the prize and learning how to orgasm with your partner.

Fantasize

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Active fantasizing is one of the most effective techniques for improving your orgasmic odds. Fantasizing is a great way to keep your mind engaged during sex. It also creates another layer of stimulation. There are even some people who are able to reach orgasm simply by fantasizing!

"Often [people with vulvas] need more than vaginal stimulation to have an orgasm and there's nothing wrong with that," Nikki Leigh, certified master sexpert, certified love coach, and host and producer of Ready for Love Radio, tells Bustle. "[...] Fantasizing can be good, whether you imagine in your head, role play, or talk dirty to your partner, these can all be ways to spice up and include some fun sexy fun times."

Right now, think of your favorite fantasies, and decide on one that you can utilize the next time you’re being intimate with your partner. It can be helpful to pick something beforehand, that way you don’t have to waste mental energy going over your options in the moment. Try to flesh out as many details of the fantasy as you can, and immerse yourself in the experience.

Keep in mind that fantasizing doesn’t have to mean cutting your partner out of the picture altogether. You can hav your partner play the leading role in your fantasy, whatever that role is!

Tell A Story

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If the idea of fantasizing during sex sounds like too much work to you, you can try honing your attention on exactly what’s going on when you’re being intimate. As you’re having sex, look at what your partner is doing to you, and narrate all of the action to yourself. For example, “they're using their tongue to trace circles around my clitoris. Now they're flicking my clitoris with the tip of their tongue.” This suggestion might sound kind of silly, but it can be extremely hot in practice because it helps you soak up every aspect of the stimulation. Give it a try, and see if it can help you stay present in the situation.

Change Up Your Routine

Do you have a specific way that you masturbate? Some people masturbate the exact same way every time, and actually wind up creating mental blockages to reaching orgasm with a partner (this happens a lot for men too, by the way). You may find yourself distracted because you’re critiquing your partner's speed or pressure, or bemoaning the fact that your partner is not stimulating you as well as well as you’re able to stimulate yourself.

Even if you don’t think this is a factor for you, I still recommend varying your masturbatory routine. Try using different strokes, different speeds, or even using your non-dominant hand. You can train your body to respond to a wider array of stimulation. And when in doubt, tell your partner what it is you like. You can even show them how you do it.

Remind Yourself Who's Touching You

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If you’ve experienced sexual abuse or trauma of any kind, you may find it hard to reach orgasm during sex. Even if you rationally understand that your partner would never hurt you, your body may not be fully able to relax when you’re being intimate.

One technique to help yourself feel more at ease is reminding yourself in the moment that you’re being intimate with your partner. Say your partner's name to yourself. Looking your partner in the eyes can also be helpful. Of course your brain knows that it’s them, but this exercise can help the more subconscious parts of your psyche start to relax.

Get Curious

Sometimes an orgasmic blockage is just an annoyance, but sometimes it’s a sign that something deeper is going on. If you’re truly honest with yourself, do you have a tiny part of yourself that feels a little uncomfortable around your partner? Maybe you suspect that your partner is cheating? Maybe they have been a bit rude or unhelpful about your orgasmic frustrations? Maybe you have a fear of being truly vulnerable and intimate with someone?

There are an infinite number of reasons why you might find yourself a bit hesitant with your partner. Some may be reactions to things they've done, some may be due to things you’ve done, and others may exist for no good reason at all. But it’s worth taking an honest look at yourself and seeing if there’s a specific reason why you’re holding back. If you're having difficulties dealing with these things on your own, speaking to a therapist about your issues may also be a huge help.

Trick Your Brain

A lot of people stress themselves out by wondering, “Am I there yet? How much longer am I going to take?” Of course, as soon as you start worrying about orgasm, it distracts you from the experience and makes it take even longer.

Similarly, Leigh says that staying present is key to having an orgasm. "Get out of our head and into the moment," Leigh says. "We tend to overthink things and while the mind is the largest sex organ it can also be the largest thing keeping us from having an orgasm. Focus on your partner. Be aware of what they're doing and react to their movements, sounds, taste, and everything else instead of being busy thinking about silly things that will keep you from having an orgasm."

I see lots of other orgasm articles that tell people with vulvas to just relax, but it’s not quite that easy. It’s actually very difficult to force yourself not to think about something in the moment. For example, try, right now, to not think about your best friend. It’s kind of impossible not to, right?

Instead, I’ve found it more useful to try to distract your brain by thinking about other things. Fantasizing is a great example, but another easy trick is to try rating the level of pleasure you’re feeling on a scale of one to ten. It gives your brain something logical and straightforward to think about, but also keeps you focused on the actual stimulation you’re feeling. Focusing more on sensation creates a faster track to orgasm.

Be Realistic In The Moment

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It’s pretty much impossible to stay completely focused on anything for a long period of time. Sex is no exception. Everyone’s mind wanders at some point or another during sex. Sometimes people can get so stressed out about the fact that they’re getting distracted that they send themselves on a maddening distraction spiral.

Acknowledge to yourself right now that it’s OK to get a little distracted during sex. It’s going to happen. When you’re in the moment with your partner, and you start to feel your mind drift, gently pull your attention back to what’s going on. The key word here is “gentle” — don’t beat yourself up about it! Say something like this to yourself, “Oops, there I go again, but it’s OK. Time to refocus.” Take a deep breath and look your partner in the eyes.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to reach orgasm, you can also check out my women’s course, Finishing School: Learn How To Orgasm, designed to help you reach your first O on your own and with a partner.

And remember: It may take some time and practice, but you can teach yourself how to get there with your partner. Good luck!

Additional reporting done by Kristin Magaldi.

Experts:

Nikki Leigh, certified master sexpert and a certified love coach

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