How To Talk To Your Partner About The Orgasm Gap

Ashley Batz for Bustle

A recent Reddit thread describes a situation that way too many straight women are familiar with. A 30-year-old woman describes her partner not making an effort to make her orgasm and assuming sex has finished when he has. This scenario is emblematic of why the orgasm gap — the tendency for straight men to orgasm more than straight women — exists. Male orgasm is too often deemed synonymous with sex, while female orgasm is deemed optional.

"The orgasm gap isn’t simply a matter of anatomy or what’s between your legs. It’s more likely a matter of who’s in the room and what you’re doing," Astroglide's resident sexologist Dr. Jess O'Reilly, tells Bustle. "It’s partnered sex (with men) that can often delay the process — and that’s OK, because it’s not a race. Women who have sex with women are also more likely to reach orgasm than women who have sex with men, which indicates that switching up the way in which we have sex might be one effective approach to address the orgasm gap."

Which brings us to the Reddit thread. “If I don’t orgasm during PIV, I’d really like them to finish me off, and the guys I’ve been with never do this unless I specifically ask,” the Redditor, u/anonymouseroo, writes. “Sometimes, they’ll even finish PIV and say they feel bad that I didn’t cum. I’m like... that’s totally fine, so make me cum now? It’s not ‘over’ just because you’ve orgasmed!”

U/Anonymouseroo asked other Redditors for advice on bringing this issue up with her partner, and there were actually a lot of great suggestions. Here’s some advice that might be useful to you if you’ve fallen victim to the orgasm gap.

1Establish A New Default

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Redditor Adrenalize_me suggested that u/Anonymouseroo have a talk with her boyfriend and explain that both people orgasming should be the default in their sex life. To make it clear when it is and isn't OK to neglect her orgasm, she can even specify that she'll say if she ever doesn't want one.

Before discussing how you want things to change, though, it can help make your partner more comfortable if you start by saying what you do like, Dr. Jess says. You can talk about how much you enjoy an activity that tends to help you orgasm, for example, then ask for more of it.

2Explain How It's Affecting Your Sex Life

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One idea posed in the Reddit thread is to state how the orgasm gap is affecting your desire for sex. Whether it's your sexual desire, your sense that you're respected in the relationship, or something else, it may help your partner to understand what impact it has on you when your pleasure is neglected.

However, make sure to use "I" statements so that you don't come off accusatory. For example, it's better to say "I enjoy this more than that" or " I find that I lose interest/get distracted when..." than "You can’t do/say stuff like that. You’re killing the mood" or "Women aren’t into that," Dr. Jess says.

3Work Out Any Obstacles

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As bigteethsmallkiss pointed out, some people get tired or lose interest in sex after they orgasm, which could contribute to a lack of desire to help your partner finish after you have sex (though it's still not an excuse). If your partner experiences this, you could talk about how to give them time to recuperate and potentially get aroused again, or work out an arrangement where you climax first.

4Express Your Feelings

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Orgasm disparities, regardless of the specific gender dynamics, aren't just about pleasure in bed. They affect how valued you feel in a relationship. Being open about these feelings can help your partner understand this so that they'll reassure you they care and make an effort to change things.

5Have Them Picture The Reverse Situation

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A few people pointed out how ridiculous it would seem to us if a woman in a heterosexual relationship stopped once she orgasmed even if her partner hadn't. If your partner is really not getting it, asking them to imagine this might drive home the point that it's not acceptable to overlook one person's pleasure, regardless of their gender.

6Speak Up In The Moment

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In addition to having a talk outside the bedroom, it's totally acceptable to state in the moment that you haven't come yet and you would like to, as iostefini points out. Speak up for yourself — there's nothing imposing or demanding about wanting as much pleasure as your partner.

It also helps to be specific about what exactly will get you there. "You’re entitled to pleasure as much as they are, and you can’t expect them to know what you like unless you show and tell them," Dr. Jess says. "No two bodies are alike, so even if they’ve had many lovers (who had many orgasms) in the past, what they learned from previous partners may not be relevant to you."

7Bring In Toys

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If you want to make the conversation a bit lighter, you can introduce toys in the bedroom. These can help your partner get you off and add some fun and novelty to your sex life as well. As graspepper says, "Nothing says 'finish me off' in a more subtle yet crystal clear way than being silently handed a vibrator or a dildo."

In addition, Dr. Jess advises making the conversation about pleasure and consideration more generally rather than just orgasm. "It’s not about counting orgasms or ensuring that you have the exact same number as your partner," she says. "Ultimately, sex is (for most people) about pleasure and connection. You can have sex that is fulfilling and pleasurable without having an orgasm, so if you focus on quality as opposed to quantity, you’ll likely derive more benefits from both the conversation and the sex itself."