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 will remain anonymous. Please send your sex and relationship inquiries to email@example.com. Now, onto today’s topic: how to talk back to orgasm-sabotaging thoughts.
Q: “I’ve never had an orgasm, on my own or with another person. I’m desperate to have one, and beyond frustrated with how difficult it is for me. I’m a classic type-A person, and I’m up in my head all day long, evaluating, analyzing, judging. I have a hard time turning off my thoughts. I have a hunch that they’re probably playing a bigger role with my orgasmic difficulties than I realize. Any time I’m with a partner, I hear a constant stream of negative thoughts like, ‘this is just not working’ or ‘it’s never going to happen.’ Do you have any tips or techniques for how to make those thoughts disappear? It’s bad enough that I’m not having the orgasms; I hate having to deal with my own bullying thoughts too.”
A; Thanks for the question! First, I want you to know that you’re absolutely not alone in this. Every woman alive has had to battle with negative thoughts in her head, and a lot of those thoughts center around orgasm. We can all relate! And, you’re not just having these thoughts because you’ve never had an orgasm. Even women who have orgasmed on their own or with partners in the past still have to deal with negative thoughts about orgasm. Once you learn how to orgasm, there are still going to be times when you feel like you’re taking too long, or when you feel like you’re nowhere near close to an orgasm.
These types of thoughts are normal and to be expected, but your hunch is definitely right. The more time you spend up in your head, beating yourself up about your orgasm, the harder it is to actually have an orgasm. Orgasming requires presence, focus, and enjoyment, but it’s hard to stay present when you’re waging an internal war with yourself. Even if you could orgasm while wrapped up in anxious thoughts, it’s not going to be a very pleasant experience!
As a sex therapist and the creator of Finishing School, an online orgasm course for women, I’ve had a lot of experience with helping women manage their negative orgasmic thoughts. The thing about thoughts is that it’s impossible to prevent yourself from thinking specific ones. It’s just not how the brain works. Instead, you need to find ways to talk back to those thoughts, and redirect your attention to more productive areas. Here are the seven most common orgasm-sabotaging thoughts, with specific ways to talk back to each.
“I Don’t Want To Make My Partner Do That…”
What to think instead: “What do I do for my partner?”
A lot of women have a hard time letting themselves be the focus of attention. You might find yourself pushing your partner’s hands or mouth away from your body. Most of us are better at giving than we are at receiving. If you find yourself struggling to let your partner focus on you, try thinking about what you’ve done for your partner. Maybe you just spent 20 minutes giving them amazing oral sex. Maybe you’ve tended to focus on your partner throughout the course of your entire relationship. Sex isn’t about being tit-for-tat, but at the same time, if you can recognize that you’re an awesome partner, it might help you feel more comfortable receiving attention in return.
“My Partner Is Getting Bored”/“My Partner Doesn’t Like Doing That”
What to think instead: “Have I asked them?”
Some women have a hard time receiving because they worry about their partner’s enjoyment. You might be afraid that their partner doesn’t enjoy touching you or going down on you. Or maybe you start to get worried that you’re taking “too long” and trying your partner’s patience. (More on this in a moment.) One great thing you can do to help check these insecurities is to simply ask your partner. If you’re with someone you trust you can say something like, “sometimes I get really self conscious about letting you do [fill in the blank]. Do you actually like it?” If your partner is even halfway decent, they’ll be able to give you some reassurance.
“I’m Taking Forever”
What to think instead: “How long has it actually been?”
Like I said, a lot of us ladies can struggle with receiving. Even if we allow ourselves to take up some attention, we very quickly start worrying that it’s “too much.” A lot of my clients tell me they’re particularly self-conscious about taking too long to orgasm. The funny thing is that most people are terrible judges of time. You might think that your partner has been going down on you for 20 minutes, when in reality it’s more like two. I’ve worked with some women who actually benefitted from taking a peek at the clock. It might sound scary initially, but I can practically guarantee you that far less time will have passed than you think.
“This Isn’t Going To Do It For Me”
What do think instead: “Have I given my partner any feedback?”
Most people wish that their partners could read their minds and know exactly what to do in the bedroom. You may have found yourself feeling frustrated that your partner wasn’t doing anything that felt particularly enjoyable to you. If that’s the case, consider asking yourself whether you’ve given your partner any feedback.
If you haven’t ever had an orgasm, you may fall into the trap of feeling like you don’t have any feedback to give to your partner. After all, you haven’t had one, so you don’t know what you need to get there, right? Wrong. You can still give your partner feedback about what does and doesn’t feel good. Even if you eventually get to a point where you know exactly what you need to reach orgasm, you’re still going to need to communicate that to your partner. So now’s the perfect time to practice your communication skills!
“I Can Hardly Feel Anything”
What to think instead: “Do I have any clitoral contact?”
Typically, women have this orgasm-sabotaging thought during intercourse. Perhaps the biggest orgasmic myth that I come across in my sex therapy practice is that women are supposed to orgasm from penetration alone. In reality, most women need focused clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm. If you’re not feeling anything in the moment, redirect your attention to adding clitoral stimulation.
“I’m Nowhere Close”
What to think instead: “How does this actually feel?”
One of the sayings that I repeat over and over again in Finishing School is that pleasure is the pathway to orgasm. You’re not going to orgasm unless you’re feeling good. I know it’s easy to get frustrated about your orgasm, but you have to keep redirecting your attention to how your body actually feels in the moment. If you’re enjoying yourself and feeling, keep going! If not, it’s time to make or ask for a change.
“It’s Never Going To Happen For Me”/ “I’m Broken”
What to think instead: “I’m going to make this happen for myself.”
I know it’s easy to go to some pretty dark places around your orgasm. So many of the women I’ve worked with fear that they’re broken, and that orgasm is never going to happen for them. It’s normal to have those kinds of fears, but don’t let them stop you from exploring your body and actually learning what you need to reach orgasm. My recommendation is always to start with yourself.