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Big love, but an equally big sexual disconnect

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Dan10 asks:

I'm 20 and I've been talking to this girl for a couple months and she's amazing. When I'm with her all of my pain and suffering that I go through daily is gone. She takes it away with a little smile. She says I'm everything she wants in a guy and I make her happy except when we start becoming intimate. She says the sexual attraction isn't there, and I can't get her to reach an orgasm with my penis. It's normal sized but she says she wishes it was bigger. We had sex 3 weeks after we met and she says if we would have waited until she had deeper feelings for me, it wouldn't matter. I've never had a girl make me feel likes she does. I'm not some dumb young guy, I have a house and a car and a job but all I want is her. But I don't know what to do from here. I can't hit her spot, and I've tried putting her legs on my shoulder. What should I do?

Heather Corinna replies:

Hey there, Dan. I'd never assume someone is dumb (including when someone is a young, a guy, or without a house, car or a job), nor do I think that having strong feelings for someone means a person is dumb. It sounds like you've had a pretty watershed emotional experience with this person, and clearly you feel very strongly about her. It's also clear this relationship has been positive for you in many ways.

Typically, for someone to feel sexually satisfied with someone else, whether or not they reach orgasm or enjoy any given sexual activity, they've got to start by feeling turned on: that usually also means starting by feeling attracted. I'm sure you know that for yourself, maybe even with this girl: if you didn't feel sexually attracted to her, probably anything she did sexually would either only feel so good, or wouldn't feel good to you at all.

I hear you saying she's voiced that she doesn't feel that sexual attraction to you is there for her.

But I also feel confused by some of the other things she's said. You probably do, too. For instance, I'm feeling confused by what she's said about your penis size being the issue. Then she says that if she'd have waited to have sex with you, she'd feel differently, which suggests to me this isn't about your penis size at all, since it's not like waiting longer before the two of you engaged in sex would have changed the size of your penis. And, unless, for her -- and it might be, even though that's fairly rare -- her main point, or only point, of sexual attraction to someone else is about a certain size of penis which you don't have, your penis not being a given size wouldn't explain her expressing she just doesn't feel attracted.

You say you can't "hit her spot," no matter how you try. So, here's the part where I tell you some things you may already know. Hopefully even if you know some of this, there's some new information here for you, too.

If you mean her g-spot, know that that doesn't equal orgasm for everyone. (If you mean some kind of Magic Orgasm Spot, there really isn't such a thing, and the rest of what I say and some links at the bottom of the page should clue you in about that.) Heck, for some people it doesn't even equal feeling anything to write home about. You can stimulate some people's g-spots and it can feel to them like you're doing nothing at all, because that area of the body isn't one that is a big whoop for everyone, or for everyone all of the time. Too, that's so, so not anything close to all there is to orgasm, not for anyone: we're rarely going to reach orgasm just because someone touched or stimulated one specific spot on our bodies. Orgasm, and the whole process of human sexual response, is so much more complex than that. Plus, if she's someone who has previously enjoyed g-spot stimulation, or that is how she usually reaches orgasm, that's not just something that can be stimulated with a penis. Not only can it be stimulated with toys or fingers, those are usually the better "tools" for that kind of stimulation anyway, regardless of the size of anyone's penis.

Most people who can reach orgasm also won't just do so via only one sexual activity or only one kind of sexual stimulation. If she can reach orgasm via intercourse (not with you yet, I understand, but if she has with someone else in the past), it's most likely she also can via other kinds of sex, too. If no kind of sex you two are having is getting her there -- and she's not someone who generally has issues reaching orgasm, either alone with masturbation, or with previous partners -- this likely isn't merely mechanical, by any stretch.

But perhaps more to the point, any of the sexually sensitive places on our bodies only tend to feel very sensitive if and when we're already feeling desire in our heads, and then if we become aroused in our heads and our bodies. The more turned on we get, the more sensitive they tend to be. Even if you had a penis or a couple of fingers that were the stealth missiles of g-spot finding (which, for the record, tends to be, like some people's clitoral shafts also tend to be, pretty touch to find when someone isn't turned on, because arousal is what creates swelling of those areas so they're more apparent), and that was the kind of stimulation she liked most, if she wasn't feeling sexually attracted to you, she probably still wouldn't reach orgasm or feel all that stimulated.

So, what that confusion and what sound like to me are mixed messages, and what I know about the "mechanics" of sex, orgasm and arousal, all brings me back to is what she said about just not feeling an attraction, despite wanting to feel it because she's otherwise into you. It just sounds to me like she's been trying to express, even though doing so poorly sometimes, that a sexual relationship with you isn't working out for her, mostly -- and maybe only -- because she doesn't feel as attracted to you as she wants or needs to be.

I think this is one of those times where someone who was very in touch with their own stuff, and also taking responsibility for it would say, "It's not you, it's me," and that'd be right, not just a way of making you feel better.

But unfortunately, it sounds like what's happened instead is that while this really is about her and her feelings, not you (or likely your penis, the way you're having sex, etc.), she's framing this as, "It's not me, it's you." Whether she's doing that without any real awareness of her own feelings and the crummy way she's communicating, or she's doing that with awareness, I don't know. But what I feel I do know clearly is that this probably really is about her, not you, and about things with her -- namely, what she does and doesn't feel for you -- that you probably can't change, and she probably can't either, even if she preferred she felt differently. We just can't usually make ourselves feel a sexual attraction to someone we don't feel.

I have no doubt that hearing that from her, and hearing it repeated by me is full of world-class suck. This is clearly a relationship you really want, and which it sounds like you really also want to be a sexual one. But it doesn't sound to me like that's likely to work out well here. It sounds to me like no matter what you do -- and probably even if your penis were a different size, or if you two had taken longer to get to sex -- she'd still be feeling the way she's feeling now. She'd still be feeling like she just wasn't attracted enough for this to be satisfying for her.

What I can't know, and what only she can know, is if that's something that can change for her. Like I said, I'm not really buying this is about your penis, so that isn't about your penis changing. But maybe she is being for real about needing more time to get to know you and develop an attraction: some people, or some people sometimes, don't feel instant attraction, and it is something that takes time to develop for them, something greatly influenced by their emotional feelings for someone and knowing them well. And since I'm guessing that you're probably not feeling like you want to just walk away from this, I have a few things you can talk about or try first if you want to, and if she wants to as well.

Anything you two try or consider is going to mean some big conversations, including about your sexual life and feelings. Those talks are probably going to feel scary or challenging no matter what, but if she doesn't bring both more sensitivity and honesty to the table in these talks, they're likely to leave you feeling really crappy, and that's not okay in my book.

So, for starters, I'd ask her to consider how she talks to you about sex and your body parts more carefully, bearing in mind that our sexuality, our sexual appeal and our bodies tend to be sensitive issues for most of us. I don't imagine she'd be feeling so awesome if, for example, you told her you'd be way more turned on if her breasts were a different size, or suggested that her legs are just too short to get you excited, and isn't that just too bad. From the way you're talking about how you feel about her, I'm guessing that you're probably talking to her about all of this with much more sensitivity and care than it sounds like she's been bringing to the table with you. I'd say something about that and ask for her to up her game here. In a word, I'd remind her that in talking about sex and you, you need her to remember that you're a person with feelings, and when she's talking about you and your body, you need her to remember that and work to talk with care.

I'd also suggest that you ask that she try and be as honest with herself, and then with you, as she can be. (And that doesn't mean she can't still communicate with care and sensitivity: we can be honest and still sensitive to others.) When I hear that she's said you're everything she wants save sexually, if she's for real about that, then I suspect that it might be she's trying to force something to happen she just isn't feeling because you tick a lot of the boxes of what she wants in a partner, but not the boxes -- whatever those are for her, but certainly including a feeling of attraction -- that need to be ticked for you to work for her as a sexual partner. Chances are good that whatever those things are, they're not about anything being wrong with you, or even with her, it's just a matter of her not feeling a thing: and that's likely outside both of your control to a large degree. But if she knows that she just doesn't feel attracted to you that way, and that a sexual relationship with you just isn't working, she needs to make that clear and own it, which also means stepping away from having a sexual relationship with you, rather than continuing to try while cutting you down or making you try and jump through hoops that won't change anything.

I also don't know what the sex between the two of you has involved, but if it's been mostly or only vaginal intercourse, and you both want to keep trying with sex, the very first thing I'd suggest is mixing things up a lot more, like spending more time with manual sex, oral sex, making out, mutual masturbation or other ways of seeking and exploring sexual pleasure besides intercourse or trying different positions with intercourse. Maybe even take intercourse off the table entirely for a while while you find other kinds of sex you both find satisfying.

In the case this really isn't about a lack of overall attraction on her part, then it may be part of the problem isn't that intercourse or your whole sex life isn't satisfying for her because of your penis size, or anything else to do with intercourse, but because intercourse is most or all that is going on in your sex life. Because whether or not that's satisfying for you, and even if you had genitals that were her idea of The World's Most Perfect Genitals, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of women not only won't reach orgasm from intercourse alone, they don't feel satisfied with a sexual life where intercourse is most of the sex that's going on. And we certainly know that very, very few women feel satisfied by a sexual life where intercourse is all that's going on.

Next up: if she earnestly feels like this is about not having taken the time to develop deeper feelings about you, and you're willing to take that chance per staying in this and potentially being even more disappointed if that doesn't turn out to be the case, there's no reason why you two can't go ahead and start back at the beginning. After all, it's not like once we have sex with someone we have to keep having sex with them: we can always step things back for any reason if we want to. So, maybe instead of exploring sex with her more right now, the next thing for the two of you to try is to take it off the table entirely for a while, like another month or two.

Lastly, if you haven't been honest with her that you're very emotionally invested in this, I'd be clear about that. After all, any attempts you two make to make things work need to be about efforts you're both putting in, and if this all isn't as important to her as it is to you, not only are those attempts likely to fail, you're likely to wind up much more hurt when they do. Too, your heart and efforts matter: if she's not as invested as you are, then it doesn't seem sound to me to keep trying at this at this point. We want to save that kind of investment for when the other person is just as invested as we are, and all the way, not halfway.

I have to tell you that in the long run, though, I think it sounds like this just isn't likely to work out as a sexual partnership. And if for one or both of you, a romantic relationship also means a sexual one, then it likely won't work as a romantic relationship, either.

I'm personally concerned that if you stay in this and try to make a sexual relationship work, you're only going to feel more hurt in the long run, especially if staying in this means you trying desperately to please someone who either just isn't going to be pleased, no matter what you do, or who just isn't going to be real with you about her own feelings, and instead put things on you -- like the size of your penis being, in her eyes, inadequate -- that make you feel crappy and probably aren't even very honest on her part. I'm actually concerned that what's happening at this point is that she's just sticking around until someone comes along for her to whom she does feel sexually attracted, seeing you as a good catch in the meantime.

I'd hate to see you keep trying to jump through hoops for someone with your heart so invested when nothing is likely to change and, if, throughout those attempts, the other person isn't being very sensitive about you or your feelings.

It sounds like, for the most part, she has been someone who has really been exciting and satisfying for you, in many respects, like she's someone you very much want to be with emotionally, romantically and sexually. And it sounds like this relationship has been a very big deal for you. I know that if it's something that doesn't work out as you'd like, that's going to be very disappointing for you, and might hurt like hell, and I'm so sorry about that. I also know that when we meet and connect with someone like this, believing there's anyone else we could connect with as well -- or even better, or in more areas -- can be hard to believe.

But chances really are quite good that you can be involved with someone who feels about you like you feel about this girl, who you feel just as good about and who does also feel a strong sexual attraction to you, and you for them, where you're not only going to have a sexual life you both find satisfying, but where they might also communicate about sex and you sexually a lot better, with both more self-awareness and more care.

I hear you presenting her as being the magic in this relationship, but relationships aren't made of one person. Whatever has been amazing about this relationship, at least half of it is because of you, not just her. I'm saying that because if this doesn't wind up working out, that doesn't mean you don't get to have an amazing relationship or that all the amazing just goes away. It also doesn't mean that this one has been a waste of your time. As someone who has experienced a lot of love, but also a lot of loss )and I see from your profile that you have, too: I'm so very sorry about the loss of your parents), one thing I know is that experiences like you've been having open our minds and our hearts. If we do that in one relationship that doesn't turn out to be the right one for us, or which changes over time, we will often approach future relationships differently, and discover that our now-more-open hearts and minds make our next relationships amazing, too, often even more amazing than that first relationship that just wasn't entirely right.

That might sound hokey to you, or like I'm just trying to make you feel better, but I'm in earnest here. Sometimes what a given relationship actually turns out to be for us, ultimately, is something that opens previously-locked doors in ourselves, and doors in the way we interact with others, that turn out to make our next relationships even more awesome; where once we're in those, we can see that the one we were in before had value, but was not as fantastic as an intimate relationship can actually be. It just seemed that way because we were more open in it and to it than we'd been in something before.

I think that may be what this one really is for you -- an opener, rather than a closer, in a word. Because a truly amazing sexual relationship involves mutual strong attraction, communication about sex that's not just honest, but also sensitive and kind, as well as sexual experiences everyone having them usually enjoy a whole lot. A truly amazing sexual relationship is a lot easier than this has been: you won't have these kinds of struggles, or they won't go like this, even if one person in that relationship takes a while to reach orgasm, or it takes time for both of you to explore and learn what really turns the other on and leaves everyone feeling satisfied. And a truly amazing intimate relationship in which we really are everything someone wants in a partner is something more than a thing someone says, it's something they show us, in all areas of the relationship.

I'm going to leave you a few links to look at, including some about sexual response, anatomy and communication, as well as a couple about love and sexual relationships. I hope whatever you, or you and she decide to do with this, that you'll be okay and, ideally, better than okay in time, even if that means without her.

written 04 Feb 2013 . updated 07 Feb 2013

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