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No pleasure, no orgasm: what's wrong with me?

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my.artsfinal asks:

My boyfriend and I have been dating for a good few years now, every time we have sex it feels like it's just for his pleasure. I really would like to be pleased as well, I mean the sex is nice.. don't get me wrong. But I don't think I've ever experienced an orgasm. I've taken advice from this site before, and I've tried masturbation on my own time, but it ends up taking me hours, and I just get frustrated. I've also discussed it with him, and we've experimented with so many things. The longest we've tried is three and a half hours. That's a little overwhelming and just plain annoying for the both of us. We've tried possibly every "extra" you can think of from biting, roleplaying, being sweet, being angry, to sucking, caressingly, and much more. Any type of contact down there just feels as casual as a massage, and the feeling never changes. What's my deal?

Heather Corinna replies:

My guess would be that rather than missing "extras," you're missing basics.

If any genital contact feels blah to you, or just like someone was patting you on the back, my first suggestion would be to make sure that when any kind of sex happens -- even masturbation -- you're really feeling aroused before it starts.

If your motivation for partnered sex or masturbation is ONLY to try and make orgasm happen, or do to something you feel like you should be doing, or should feel good, rather than arising out of a very profound HUNGER -- a strong desire and nascent want -- for sexual activity then it's not that surprising that nothing feels that good, because that arousal is key to any kind of sex feeling really good, including masturbation.

So, check in with yourself. Are you really feeling that desire? Can you even identify what that is, maybe remembering a few times when it was exceptionally strong? If you can, then know that only the times when you're feeling like that are really the right times to pursue partnered sex or masturbation.

Make sure, too, that you're strongly sexually -- not just aesthetically, not just emotionally -- attracted to your partner. Sometimes, we feel big romantic love, deep care, and even a strong pull to be with someone else but it isn't really a sexual attraction, even if it seems like we SHOULD feel a sexual attraction, or we really want to. Chemistry is a funny, unpredictable thing, and we can deeply love a lot of people, maybe even think they're physically attractive, but still not really have a big sexual chemistry between us. As well, if the vibe and dynamic in your relationship overwhelmingly feels like sex really is all about him, that may be something to look at more deeply. In all the "extra" things you're trying, for instance, are they really about exploring what is exciting for you, or are they about exploring what would get you aroused enough to make you want to provide more pleasure/sex for him?

I'd also check in with your basic physical and mental health. If you're really stressed out, depressed or feeling pressured (even if that pressure is just coming from you), that's going to impact your libido.

Secondarily, I'd suggest you get in the habit of cutting sex -- solo or partnerd -- off when you've been having it for a little while and it's clearly not working for you. Going at it for hours when it's not even great for a few minutes isn't helpful: it's likely to only result in you considering sex as a bigger and bigger drag: understandably! But if you start to make that association, it's also going to be harder and harder to feel at all excited at the prospect of sex. There are a LOT of ways to be intimate, emotionally and even sexually. For instance, why not switch to mutual masturbation when your partner is interested in sex and you're not there? If you aren't there at all for yourself, he can even masturbate himself with you talking, watching or cheering him on -- and that's something that's pretty arousing for a lot of people, too. On the other hand if sex between you has really started to feel like it's all about him, if that's not an exciting idea for you, then nix that, too. Or, maybe genital sex period just isn't your thing, and you're someone for whom whole-body contact, verbal sex, or some other form of sexuality is more exciting: human sexuality is SO vast and varies SO much. Bear in mind that what is sexy or sexual for you may not be what you think it should be, or may not be indentical to how sex is often presented by others.

Ultimately, you may just want to consider having a different sort of relationship for a while, just to see if a sexual relationship really IS the right one for the two of you: it may well be that you're just better as friends, and that the pressure to be something else is killing your libido, even when you're alone.

I know none of that is the best news ever. But it may just also be that you're not at this part of your life yet, too. Everyone has different timetables, and for some folks, strong interest in sex happens later, rather than earlier. My concern would just be that you're not trying to force something so much that even if you are a later-bloomer in this respect, by the time you get there, you're so sick of trying to make something happen that isn't going to, that sexuality is just a big bummer for you, full-stop.

I've included a couple articles which may be of help if you haven't read them yet:

written 07 Jul 2007 . updated 13 Dec 2012

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