Queerie Me: I Can’t Orgasm With My Partner

Dear Queerie Bradshaw, 

I don’t really know how to approach this issue, so I’m turning to you for some hopeful guidance.

I’m a 24 year old female and I have never been able to achieve orgasm with a partner.

By myself things are a-ok; toys or no toys, quickie or long session everything is great. However, the issue I have is that every time I involve another person things start to feel good, then either turn off or cause mild discomfort. 

I never really gave any thought to this before in relationships, but I’m in a great relationship with a girl and I’d really like to be able to work through this. Any thoughts? Perhaps you have some literature that could guide me in the right direction?

Thanks,

Uncumfortable

 

Dear Uncumfortable,

First things first: you are not alone. Many people, including myself, have issues orgasming with partners. One of my guy friends can’t cum until the third or fourth time he sleeps with someone. A gal pal of mine can only orgasm when she’s having a one night stand or in a relationship, any time there’s emotional ambiguity her clit shrivels up inside her and refuses to come out. An ex of mine could cum in two minutes alone but would take almost two hours when we tried it together.

Orgasms are 50% mental and 50% physical. Yes, these percentages are completely made up and I have no scientific study to back them, but in my (dare I say vast) experience talking about and having sex I’ve seen them proven time and again. Now, if you hadn’t ever orgasmed or if your partner wasn’t pleasing you at all my advice would be different, but since you can orgasm on your own and you say sex with your partner feels good, I’m going to assume it has something to do with an emotional wall your sub-conscious (who is probably self-conscious) has built.

I once trained for a marathon by running hundreds of miles through San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for six months. You’d think after all of that, I would know my way through the park, but alas, I was too busy trying to get the damn thing over with that I didn’t pay attention to where I was. I was so obsessed with the end result that I lost site of the journey.

I’m sure it’s obvious where I’m going with this cheesy, hopefully inspirational metaphor, but it is true that sex is a journey and each sexual encounter is a different path. I ran for six months straight and never had the same experience twice. I’ve had sex in the same exact position with the same exact person, yet I’ve never been able to reproduce the same exact feeling. Our physical selves may make the same motions, but our emotional selves change constantly, making each experience a unique one.

That’s what’s so great about sex, each time it’s different, each time it’s unique.

But what makes it great also makes it scary because we don’t know what to expect so we assume the worst. Each time I stood on that starting line heading out for a run, I didn’t know what was ahead of me. I knew it was going to leave me sweaty, breathless and emotionally vulnerable. I knew I’d be exhausted, hungry and thirsty when I was done. I knew there would be pain and that I might not finish. Before I even started, I psyched myself out and on the days I just couldn’t make it to the finish line, I’d berate myself for not being able to overcome my momentary physical incapacity, focusing on the miles I hadn’t run, not the ones I had.

I felt fat. I felt ugly. I felt ashamed of my limitations. Just like I often do during sex.

What I had to do, both in running and in sex, was just let it all go, accept that I am who I am and that sometimes I just wasn’t going to finish. Accept that if I kept focusing on the end result I’d just keep making the journey miserable.

This is what you have to try to do as well. You have to give up. Surrender yourself to the experience of sex and stop trying so hard to control where that experience goes. Let the pleasure of being intimate be enough. An orgasm is a physical release of built up energy, so in order to orgasm you have to let your pent up emotions go as well. Yes, you may cry. Yes, you may ejaculate. Yes, you probably will writhe about and make funny faces. But that’s all part of the journey, it’s all part of the fun.

Take a moment to look inside yourself and really think about what could be holding you back. Are you ashamed of something about your body? Did something happen in your past that made you want to protect yourself sexually? Are you simply nervous?

Close your eyes, shut off your brain and your heart, and listen to your gut. What makes it knotted? What gives you that feeling like you’re going to vomit? That’s what’s bothering you, whatever is in your gut. It may take awhile to figure out, but when you do, put a name to it. Naming things makes them less scary. Say it outloud. Talk about it, if only to yourself.

Then let it go.

The sooner you find and release whatever emotional baggage you have around sex, the sooner you’ll release during sex.

 

Ok, so philosophy aside, let’s get down to physical logistics. Here are some things that might help you work through this mental blockade:

  • Get yourself off during sex. Touch yourself just like you do when you masturbate while your partner licks your nipples, thrusts inside of you, touches your body, kisses you, stimulates you in whatever way helps you reach that moment. If you get yourself off once with your partner there, it might help you do it again and again. So keep trying and don’t be afraid to take matters into your own hands.
  • When it comes to the pain part, read our very first Queerie Me on painful penetration. Your issue could be something you need to talk to your doctor about or something as simple as needing more lube. People underestimate the importance of lube.
  • Knowing the science of an orgasm might help as well, seeing it as something physical might help you release your emotional blockage. If you see it as a physical manifestation of a fun time, all you have to do is make sure you’re having fun. The rest will come eventually. (pardon the pun)
  • Start out sex knowing you’re not going to have an orgasm. Tell this to yourself and your partner. Relieve the pressure for both of you to make that moment happen. It may help to see sex as something more advanced and complicated than masturbating, something that feels good in a different way, something that doesn’t have to have an orgasm to be successful. Maybe set a time for when you’ll start trying to orgasm again. Let yourself have a period where it’s off the table. You might find it being off might help you get off.
  • Masturbate in different ways. Often times we get too used to getting off in one particular way that we end up needing that specific way to get off. Try different positions. Switch hands. Switch toys. Switch it up in whatever way you want. This will help you when you’re switched around during sex.
  • Keep masturbating. If you know that you’ll get that release somewhere, you’ll be less likely to care as much about it being there during sex with your partner. When you do masturbate, pay attention to what gets you off. What are you thinking about? What are you not thinking about? What motions, positions, movements get you there? Maybe even have your partner watch.
  • Give yourself a break. You’re not the only person who has issues orgasming, it’s perfectly natural and you’ll get there when you’re ready.

 

 

Because knowledge is power, these books about sex might help you feel more comfortable:

 

I hope this has helped and that you and your partner are able to work through this. Keep in touch and let me know how it goes.

With hope and patience,

Queerie Bradshaw

 

Have a question for Queerie Bradshaw? Email info{at}queeriebradshaw.com. We highly respect your privacy and all Queerie Me posts are kept anonymous.

 

 

About Queerie Bradshaw

Lauren Marie Fleming is a writer, speaker and motivator known for her intimate, informative and often hilarious look at sex, relationships and body-image. Lauren runs the critically-acclaimed QueerieBradshaw.com blog, writes for major news sources including VICE, Nerve, Huffington Post and Curve, and is the author of her memoir Losing It: My Life as a Sex Blogger. In 2013, Lauren founded Frisky Feminist Press (FriskyFeminist.com) as a way to enhance conversations about sexuality through educational guides, online classes and entertaining publications. A law school graduate, Lauren has spoken all over the United States and is internationally recognized for her dynamic, engaging style. In everything she does, Lauren’s goal is to educate, remove stigmas and encourage people to achieve their desires.
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