is this normal?/how to go forward

Questions and discussion about your sexual lives, choices, activities, ideas and experiences.
dana
not a newbie
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:56 pm
Age: 23
Pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: lesbian
Location: usa

is this normal?/how to go forward

Unread post by dana »

Hi- sorry if this doesn't belong here, I just have been unsure about it for a long time and wanted to get some perspective.
I'm 23, lesbian, and I don't really get aroused during sex. I don't consider myself asexual (nor am I interested in defining myself in those terms) and I am able to get aroused at other times that I think are pretty normal. I masturbate sometimes and can orgasm without much trouble on my own. I find my current partner sexy, and I get turned on by her initiating sexual contact, or even just casual touches sometimes. But when it comes to the act itself, I don't get aroused nearly to the degree that I do when it's just myself, and it is incredibly difficult, practically impossible, to orgasm. A lot of the things I theoretically find sexy (even stuff I fantasize about) just don't seem to do anything for me in practice. (For the record, this has happened with all my previous partners as well, but they were all pretty much quick hookups and I am now in a serious relationship).

That's not to say I don't like sex- I love being physically intimate with my partner, I enjoy touching her/bringing her to orgasm, and I really do love just touching and being close with each other. It isn't usually unpleasant when she tries to reciprocate, but again it just doesn't do much if anything for me and I'd rather skip the awkwardness of it (I feel embarrassed that nothing's happening, I worry that she feels like I'm not attracted to her or it's something she's doing wrong) and go straight to touching her. I have said to her before that for me it's about the journey, that I like having sex with her and don't feel upset or like I'm missing out when I don't orgasm, but I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm just trying to make her feel better.

The truth is, I do often wonder what's wrong with me, like, what am I missing that makes this work for everyone else? Do I just have to practice more? I don't do any type of penetration, and sometimes wonder if maybe I should work on that because I would actually love it (it's one of those things that so far is great in theory but in practice just painful, although I do think that's just because my body isn't used to it). I sometimes do feel like I'm missing out. It would be really cool if my partner could get me off, and I think it would make having sex less stressful sometimes! But also maybe this is just how I am, and I know what I like, and I shouldn't feel like I have to conform to some Right way of having sex or a sex drive.

It's just stressful sometimes to look forward- thinking about having to negotiate with my partner, and any/all future partners, the logistics of how I do/don't want to have sex. Having to tell them not to bother trying to get me off, and knowing that no matter how logical or understandable it is, feelings are going to be hurt because feelings don't always make logical sense. And thinking that maybe this is not something innate, and I, too, could experience mind-blowing orgasms with someone I love, if only I tried hard enough. So idk-- I can't decide whether I should be concerned about this and try to do something about it, or if I should just do things the way that make sense to me and stop trying to get "more normal." Obviously there's no one perfect answer to this but I'd be really interested in what someone with more experience has to say. I don't have anyone to talk to about it.
Elise
scarleteen staff/volunteer
Posts: 210
Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2020 4:44 am
Age: 31
Primary language: English
Pronouns: she/her
Sexual identity and orientation: bisexual/queer
Location: Narrm/Melbourne

Re: is this normal?/how to go forward

Unread post by Elise »

Hi there dana, and welcome to Scarleteen. You are right that there isn't one right or wrong way to experience sexual response: we can enjoy the same activities differently in different contexts, and there isn't a need to approach our own pleasure responses with an intent to "fix" our bodies. This is because our main sexual organ is our brain, and it responds to so much more than just physical inputs, this includes feeling stressed and other feelings as well, which may impede our brain allowing us to feel pleasure from things, as it has other things it's focused on.

We have a couple of primers on this here: What a lot of people also don't know is that sexuality is not just about "turn ons" but also about "turn offs", and if the offs aren't off, then the sexual response doesn't go ahead in that situation. You can think of this a bit like a car: no matter how hard you press down the accelerator, if the handbrake is on, then the car isn't going anywhere. This analogy is a quick paraphrase of what the brilliant sexuality educator, researcher and writer, Emily Nagoski, Ph.D writes about in her book, Come as You Are, which you may find useful to check out from your local library (if you prefer audio media it is also an audio book). She also summarises this concept in this comic strip, here: Sexual Response & Orgasm: A Users Guide.

I hope this is useful to you, if you have any questions or curiosities that arise from this information, please don't hesitate to ask.
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