The Soapbox: No, But Seriously, Sex Can Be Satisfying Without Orgasm

The Soapbox: No, But Seriously, Sex Can Be Satisfying Without Orgasm

I have slept with a fair amount of people. But I’ve orgasmed with only one, the person I was in a long-term relationship with. All of my other sexual encounters have been varying degrees of fun, but have not resulted in the Big O. For me at least — the men I’ve slept with always come. This never comes as a surprise to me. I don’t expect to come from casual sex, while I’m sure every dude I have it with does. As Natalie Kitroeff notes in an article for The New York Times, “in hookups, inequality still reigns.”

Here’s what I’ve noticed over, uh, the last 13 years of having sex. Some guys, even random dudes I’ve brought home from bars, are really, really into getting women off. But most of them are driven by their own egos. “Every girl I’ve ever been with has come” is something I’ve heard more than a few times from guys who just won’t stop until they’re sure you’ve reached their idea of satisfaction — orgasm. I’ve been known to fake it with these men, because it’s just so much easier than explaining to a relative stranger “I just can’t orgasm unless I am really, really, really in the right mood and there are no distractions and I’m 1000 percent relaxed and my OCD/ADD isn’t acting up. Also you have to be licking my pussy just right and it also helps if I use my vibrator while you’re fucking me, but even then it just might not happen. Don’t take it personally, I’m still having a great time!” I have given a few dudes the short version of that explanation and they all looked at me like I just killed their puppy.

Then, of course, there are the dudes who are just there to get theirs and get out. These dudes have been plentiful. Though they certainly won’t turn down a blow job, they conveniently skip past reciprocating. Natasha Gadinsky, 23, told the Times about a guy she hooked up with multiple times who showed zero interest in her satisfaction. “I don’t think he tried at all. I was really frustrated.” The Times posits that though women are “becoming equal partners in the hookup culture, often just as willing as young men to venture into sexual relationships without emotional ties,” but, according to Kim Wallen, a professor at Emory University who studies female desire, how much pleasure we receive from those hookups “isn’t level” with the pleasure men receive. New research supports what my vagina already knows to be true — women are less likely to have orgasms during uncommitted sexual encounters than in serious relationships.

To be sure, some of this is certainly because of how our naughty bits are built. Many, many women have difficulty reaching orgasm through vaginal sex, but can through oral or manual stimulation of the clitoris. But it’s not like the clit is a button you just have to push to start climaxing. It’s about pace and rhythm and pressure and it can take time for a partner to learn just the right combination. It takes effort and interest on the part of men, and confidence and assertiveness and openness on the part of women — but many casual sex relationships lack that intimacy.

Duvan Giraldo, 26, told the Times that satisfying a partner “is always my mission,” but “I’m not going to try as hard as when I’m with someone I really care about.”

As someone who quite seriously has stopped actively trying to orgasm with my casual hookups, I wish we would change the perimeters of this discussion and be a little less rigid about what our definition of “satisfaction” is. Because the way it’s defined now sets most women up to fail and men not to bother. Just because I may not come from oral sex during a casual hookup does not mean I don’t still want to receive oral sex. Just because I may not come during intercourse, doesn’t mean I don’t have positions I love more than others.

A guy I used to hook up with in New York moved to LA a few years ago, so whenever I’m out on the West Coast for work, we meet up for hotel sex. Hotel sex is hot, with or without orgasm. He’s really into having sex in front of a mirror. I’m into it too. Sex in front of a mirror is fun and hot, with or without orgasm. Just as life is about the journey, not the destination, sex can be enjoyable and wonderful and funny and horny and hot and pleasurable even if it doesn’t culminate in a shuddering orgasm. Just because an orgasm may not be on the menu doesn’t mean I still don’t want to eat.

Debra Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University, is with me on this. “Something we don’t talk about is why having an orgasm is the main goal or the only goal. Who are we to say women should be having orgasms?”

Exactly. At nearly 34 years old, I know how to get myself off. I get something else from casual sex — a way to release energy, a certain level of intimacy, the chance to play and experiment, the opportunity to give pleasure. I look forward to eventually being in a relationship with a partner who satisfies me on an intellectual, emotional, and spiritual level, because it is with him that I’ll have the time, intimacy, trust and freedom to truly explore all facets of physical satisfaction.

But until then, I still want to get my pussy licked.

[NY Times]

[Photo of two people gettin’ it on via Shutterstock]

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