Getting him to get me off

Dear Alice,

My boyfriend has been having sex since he was thirteen years old, and yet when he's with me he makes no attempt at pleasing me. He doesn't know how (or he doesn't try) to turn me on, and he never helps me reach orgasm. In fact, I never have reached an orgasm with him. Besides this, he is a wonderful, loving boyfriend. How do I approach the subject tactfully? And if he really is clueless, how do I teach him how to do it right? 

Dear Reader, 

Everyone deserves to have delightful and satisfying pleasure in their sexual and romantic relationships! While seeming great in theory, many people find that orgasming with a partner is actually a lot harder in practice. Part of this is due to the fact that it takes a tremendous amount of communication and often trust in a partner before orgasming with each other is possible. Sharing what you like with your boyfriend can be done in a number of ways, but what’s most key is that you’re communicating clearly what does and doesn’t work for you. When it comes to teaching him, that’s up to how you feel comfortable. Whether it’s telling him or showing him, some people may need a little more direction than others. After all, while the anatomy and body parts may be similar between partners (or not), the way nerve endings respond to different sensations varies from person to person. What brought a previous sexual partner to orgasm may not work for future partners.  

You say your boyfriend makes no attempt at pleasing you. Does your boyfriend know what pleases you? Do you know what pleases him? Have you communicated about what turns you on, gets you excited, and provides pleasure, and vice versa? If not, this may be a great place to start, but first, a question for you: Are you up to speed on what gets you off? Believe it or not, regardless of your age and sexual experience, taking time to explore and appreciate your body through masturbation is one of the best ways to identify what feels great, not so great, and what sends you over the moon. It can also be helpful to understand the reasoning behind his lack of attempt as pleasing you. Learning more about his experiences and his understanding of your body may help inform that. Does he believe that he is pleasing you? Does he want to please you? Is he experiencing pleasure during your time together? Having a shared understanding of your intentions during sex could help you better frame your conversations and your time spent together. It can also provide a direction for how you’d approach the conversation. For example, you may approach the conversation very differently with a partner who believes he is pleasuring you than you would with a partner who knows he isn’t but is embarrassed that he doesn’t know how.  

Now, back to ways you can approach your partner. There are a myriad of ways to provide him with the keys to your pleasure chest. Here are a few ideas: 

  • Tell him. You can really pick any time to do this, but to keep the pressure low, you may want to have this conversation outside of the bedroom — over a cup of coffee or while you’re having lunch, for example. It may be helpful to think about what your boyfriend does that you enjoy. You can lead with this and follow-up with a request. For example, you could say: “I really love when you kiss my neck! I would really like it if you kissed other parts of my body, too. ” 
  • Show him. For the visual or experiential learner, this technique can be quite exciting. If you’re able to orgasm when you masturbate, playing a little show and tell with your partner can provide him with quite the education. Masturbating in front of your partner might feel embarrassing at first, but what better way to show him exactly what makes you tick? It offers him the opportunity to learn just how you like to be touched. Another way to “show him” is by taking his hands in yours and moving them the ways you like being touched. If having him watch seems a little overwhelming, you could consider masturbating together. 
  • Provide verbal feedback. Some prefer on-the-job training. Next time you’re getting down and dirty, you could provide positive reinforcement when your boyfriend touches you in a way that feels really good. If he goes down on you and is providing just the right amount of pressure, let him know. You could say, “Oh! That feels really good. Can you keep using your tongue just like that?” Similarly, if he touches you in a way that doesn’t feel good, you could let him know. Some examples of what you say could include, “A little softer, baby…” or “Can you keep doing what you’re doing, but use more pressure” or “Let’s take it really slow tonight.” 

Ultimately, it’s key that you’re both satisfied and happy with the sexual side of your relationship (in addition to the other parts as well!). If your partner’s resistant to more conversation and communication, it may be worth exploring some larger conversations around respect and trust in your relationship. With that, though, once you create more space for regular conversation and communication about sexual pleasure, you can both have more satisfying as well as (hopefully) mind-blowing sexual experiences moving forward! In fact, you may be surprised by how much of a turn-on the process is in and of itself. 

Best of luck! 

Last updated Aug 27, 2021
Originally published Nov 07, 1997

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