7 Ways To Have Great Sex When Your Partner Doesn't Have An Erection

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Too often, sex is viewed as almost synonymous with an erection. It's assumed to begin when a penis becomes hard enough to penetrate a partner and end when it becomes soft again. But, of course, that's not how things actually work. Penises cannot get or stay hard on demand, and even when they can't, sex can still be great.

People "often get insulted or feel like the man doesn't desire them if he doesn't have an erection or ejaculate," Pamela Madsen, sex educator and founder of Back to the Body Sensuous Retreats, tells Bustle. "The number one myth is that if a man doesn't have a hard-on, he's not feeling desire." Along with partners taking it personally, penis-owners themselves sometimes feel as if a lack of erection indicates a lack of virility or desirability, when in reality, it happens to everyone at some point.

Another myth is that someone with a penis needs to have an erection to enjoy sex, or that their partner needs them to be erect to enjoy sex themselves. In reality, both parties can experience pleasure no matter what state the penis is in.

Here are some ways to have great sex that do not depend on anyone's penis being hard.

1. Engage In External Stimulation

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There are tons of sexual acts that don't involve penetration — oral sex, manual sex, erotic massage, grinding, and kissing, to name a few, says Madsen. Many people with vulvas actually prefer clitoral stimulation to penetration, so being unable to penetrate someone does not mean you're letting them down.

2. Use A Strap-On

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Strap-ons aren't just for those without penises. Those with penises can also use them if they want to give their partners the experience of penetration but don't have an erection — or even if they do have one but want to try something new, Madsen says.

3. Engage In Penetration With Hands Or Toys

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Another way to give your partner the experience of penetration is to use your fingers, fists, or dildos and other sex toys. "Women can feel very well-f*cked without a penis in a vagina," Madsen says.

4. Play With The Soft Penis

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Contrary to popular belief, penises can experience pleasure and even orgasm without erections, Madsen says. "You can touch a soft penis in ways that you touch a hard penis," she says. "Just because the erectile tissue isn't filling doesn't mean that the nerve endings aren't there." She recommends rubbing it with coconut oil or holding it in your hands while you take it in your mouth.

5. Engage In Mental Stimulation

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You can experience sexual pleasure together without even touching each other, Madsen says. Try reading erotica or watching porn together or sharing your fantasies with each other.

6. Have The Penis-Owner "Energetically Penetrate"

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Some people like penetration because they like the feeling of being "taken," says Madsen. But penetration can be energetic rather than physical. "People can move their energy in a powerful way into somebody else's space," she explains. A few ways to do this are laying between your partner's legs and pressing your pelvis against them, or just holding them in your arms and leaning into them.

7. Penetrate The Penis-Owner

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Someone with a penis can also be penetrated, either literally (anally or orally) or energetically, says Madsen. If they want that feeling of being taken, you can play with power by tying your partner up and telling them not to move while you please them.

The moral of the story? "The game isn' over because there's not a hard cock," says Madsen. There are plenty of sexual acts that don't require an erect penis, and they can be just as amazing as those that do.