“Wait, was that an orgasm?” If you’ve ever had sex with someone who didn’t have an orgasm, you’re probably familiar with this train of thought. Since most of us tend to treat orgasm as the end-all-be-all of sex, it can be hard to know what to do when your partner — whether they were a long-term love or a one-night stand — doesn’t get there. Here’s what you should do the next time it happens.
Illustration by Tina Mailhot-Roberge.
Most of us are incredibly sensitive about our orgasms (or lack thereof). We put so much pressure on ourselves to orgasm in the exact right way, at the exact right moment, every single time, that even the tiniest deviation from our expectations can send us into a tailspin. If you’re with a partner who struggles with their orgasm even occasionally, the best thing you can do is show them that you’re on their team and want them to get there too. But oftentimes, people do this in a way that only adds more pressure. Let’s talk about how to maintain a better balance.
First Off, Show You Care!
It’s obvious when you’re sleeping with someone who couldn’t care less about your enjoyment. It’s not a good feeling when it seems like you could be swapped out for an expensive Japanese sex doll without skipping a beat. It’s totally fine to sleep with strangers or people whom you don’t particularly care deeply for, but you should try to show everyone a basic amount of respect.
Let your sexual partners know you want them to have a good time (and mean it!) Even questions as simple as, “what could we do to make tonight fun for you?” or “does that feel good?” let your partner know that you’re invested in their pleasure. To be clear, it’s not your responsibility to make your partner orgasm. Orgasms are too personal of an experience to pin on another person. Nor should you push your orgasmic agenda on another person if they tell you that they don’t need or want an orgasm. But you should want to help your partner experience pleasure when they’re with you.
Focus On Their Pleasure
If you really want to show your partner that you give a damn about their experience, try spending at least a few minutes completely focused on them with no expectations of reciprocation.
Kiss all over their body, touch them with your hands, give them oral, toss them into their favourite position, or do that thing you know they love. If you don’t know what they like, say something along the lines of, “I want to take care of you. What sounds the most fun to you right now?” If your partner seems shy or embarrassed about answering, give them a few options to choose from.
As you’re spending time lavishing their body with attention, let your partner know that you’re having a damn good time too. A lot of us have a hard time being the center of attention, so letting your partner know that you’re actually enjoying what you’re doing helps them relax and receive. Say something like, “you taste amazing” or “I could touch you like this for hours.”
If you’re with someone that you truly care about, let them know that you’ll keep focusing on them until they tell you to stop. Seriously, there is no greater gift that you can give to a partner who is struggling with orgasm than to say, “you can have alllll the time in the world. I’m not going anywhere. And I’m loving every freaking minute.”
Communicate As You Go
It can be really tricky to get a sense of how close or far another person is from orgasm. This can result in plenty of awkward moments trying to guess whether to stop or keep going. Most people react by asking questions like, “are you there yet?” or “did you come already?” Unfortunately, these questions can make your partner feel put on the spot and send them back to square one.
Instead, try making statements or asking questions that are focused more on your partner’s pleasure than their orgasm. If you’re about to go down on them, say something like, “I’m going to keep going until you tell me you feel satisfied.” If you’re trying to get a read on how they’re doing in the moment, say something like, “is there anything I can do to make this feel even better?”
If you’re a dude penetrating your partner, you might find yourself in a unique situation where you’re worried about the opposite — orgasming before your partner has had the chance to. First of all, your orgasm doesn’t need to signal the end of the evening! There are still plenty of sexual things you can do after intercourse. You may also want to try spending some extra time taking care of your partner before you guys make the switch to penetration. If you need a breather in the moment, say, “I need a few seconds to cool off, so let me focus on you” or “I’m getting close but I want to make sure we take care of you too.” If you’re trying to get a sense of whether or not your partner is going to be able to orgasm, you can say, “do you think we can make you come?” These kinds of statements allow your partner to take you up on your offer for some TLC, or let you know that it’s ok for you to go ahead and get yours.
Help Your Partner Explore
If you’re with someone you care about, you can be an awesome source of support in their orgasmic adventures. Help your partner understand that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them for not being able to orgasm. Educate yourself about anatomy, masturbation, and orgasm. When you’re being intimate, take the initiative in asking for feedback. One of the most effective ways to do this is by bring a little A/B testing into the bedroom. Try out two different techniques and ask your partner, “do you like it better when I do this or this.” (You can play this game even with someone casual).
Again, don’t make your partner’s orgasm your responsibility, but do let them know that you’re happy to play as small or large of a role in their process as they’d like.
Don’t Shame Your Partner
Above all else, just don’t be a jerk. Your partner is probably placing enough pressure on themselves to have an orgasm, and doesn’t need you making them feel even worse. This should be obvious advice. Unfortunately, there are a number of people out there who need to hear it, as evidenced by the fact that the following are actual responses my clients have heard:
- “This is taking a while.”
- “I’ve never been with anyone who couldn’t orgasm.”
- “Are you gay?”
- “What’s wrong?”
- “You’ve never had an orgasm?”
- “My ex-girlfriend/boyfriend used to come at the drop of a hat.”
Let’s make this easy: don’t say anything that sounds even remotely close to any of the above phrases! Even seemingly neutral phrases like, “are you getting close?” or “are you going to come?” can come off arsehole-ish if you don’t watch your tone.
You might find yourself taking a partner’s lack of orgasm personally, and lashing out in a primitive attempt to protect your ego. Making your partner’s orgasm all about you isn’t useful to either one of you. Your partner not having an orgasm isn’t a threat to your masculinity or femininity. It doesn’t mean you’re not “sexy enough”. It doesn’t mean you’re bad in bed. It doesn’t even mean that your partner isn’t having a good time. Try to remember that before you open your mouth.
Take The Focus Off Orgasm
Orgasms are fantastic, don’t get me wrong. But they’re not the only amazing thing about being intimate with someone. They’re also not a necessary ingredient for having a good time. There are plenty of people that don’t need to have an orgasm to feel fulfilled. When we put all of our focus on those 10-30 seconds of toe-curling orgasmic bliss, we miss out on so many other opportunities for connection, playfulness, and pleasure. If you can redirect some of your orgasmic attention towards making every other moment of your hookup pleasurable, not only will your partner be endlessly grateful, but they will actually be far more likely to orgasm. And you’ll enjoy yourself a hell of a lot more too.