Dear Alice,

It's very hard for me to orgasm during sex, even if I help myself. I can do it all by my lonesome very quickly, but as soon as I'm with a guy, I just can't cum. However, I'm not worried by this whatsoever. I love sex, and I love everything about it. I love the act of sex, I love pleasuring my partner, I love the sights, smells, and sounds of sex. If I don't cum, meh, I'm still very happy. I'm no happier if I do orgasm during sex.

My problem seems to be keeping my partners happy with my contentment with not orgasming. They seem to think it's their life mission to make me orgasm. I had one boyfriend with whom I actually faked orgasming for a good two years because he was so upset that he couldn't make me cum. Every other partner I've had since then has taken it personally that I can't orgasm with them. It seems to put a bit of strain on my relationships.

I am with a new guy that I care for very deeply. He has been very understanding of my not orgasming, but he seems to try that much harder, and I think he is getting frustrated. I have orgasmed once since we've been together (a mere month and a bit), so it can be done, but I really don't want him to take it personally. I've told him already about this, and he said he was surprised that I'm cool with it. I REALLY don't want him to be disappointed and have this strain our relationship (like every other relationship I've had). I really do like him that much.

What can I do or say to ease his mind?

— Flustered

Dear Flustered,

What people find pleasurable — whether an orgasm or the intimacy of different types of sex — is very individualized. Sometimes the journey makes for the experience, not the destination. Not being focused on having an orgasm may give you more enjoyment and appreciation for other aspects of sex, which others may miss out on in a race to the finish. Nevertheless, some people still feel that for sex to be "successful," both partners must orgasm. A lot of factors could be at play when trying to reach orgasm — the type of activity, the relationship with your partner, any stressors or other distractions, being nervous, etc. Regardless of whether these factors may be impacting your ability to orgasm, it doesn’t seem to negatively influence your overall experience — but worrying about these factors or others may be impacting your partner’s. Since you seem to really care about this new partner, it might be time for a conversation about what you each want and need from your intimate encounters.

It's great that your partner is really invested in having a mutually pleasurable sexual relationship. Have you asked him why it’s such a priority to him for you to orgasm? It could be that he enjoys pleasuring you and wants you to feel the intimacy or ecstasy he associates with orgasms. He may also be concerned that your lack of orgasm is a reflection of your interest or his sexual prowess. You may find it useful to take the time to share what he does well in the bedroom to ease any anxieties he may have about his performance and ability to please you. If you're interested in pursuing partnered orgasms in the future, you might consider sharing with him the aspects of sex you do enjoy or what about your most recent sexual encounter helped you to orgasm. You could also try activities that are of interest and new to both of you to see if that changes the dynamics and makes it easier to reach climax. 

Additionally, you may find it helpful to try to redirect the focus on sex away from orgasms. You might consider sharing with him the aspects of sex you do enjoy or what about your most recent sexual encounter helped you to orgasm. Maybe you could even help him get more enjoyment out of the other aspects of sex that are fulfilling to you! Engaging in activities in which orgasm isn't the intended part of the equation may help him see that you're genuinely sexually fulfilled with him without experiencing it and you enjoy additional aspects of sex. Are there other ways to show or communicate to him that you’re enjoying yourself? If you find yourself concerned there's more to what you're experiencing or bothered by the challenge of not achieving partnered orgasms, then you may find some answers in speaking with a health care provider about it.

Sex can certainly be enjoyable without requiring an orgasm. With some open and honest communication, along with some patience, you may be able to help your partner understand your perspective. Enjoy!

Alice!

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