Forest’s mom always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.’ I say, ‘Sex is like ice cream. There’s something for everyone.
Evolutionarily speaking, goal-orientated sex is probably the sex we are programmed to have. It releases all the lovely endorphins that make you want to do it again and is the most efficient for reproductive purposes. Fortunately, we humans are capable of experiencing so much more. Sex with a partner is as much about feeling intimacy and human connection as physical friction. Sharing your body with another human can be such a binding and consuming experience and being able to give them pleasure and receive it yourself is more intensely and deeply fulfilling than any orgasm.
For many people who can’t experience orgasm with a partner or even by themselves, this doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the other pleasures and connections that sex offers. This is something that people who are new to or shy about sex may not really understand, especially when sex in mainstream media usually consists of a few thrusts and a head toss. This realisation that sex does not equal orgasm is comforting and liberating. It opens up a fresh and limitless way to enjoy sexual pleasure with yourself and partners without the looming pressure and potential failure that accompanies the perceived necessity of an orgasm.
That said, orgasms are still pretty amazing – especially the kind that pull you so deep into them you forget about everything else. Studies vary on the typical length of an orgasm, but it seems that women usually last longer than men, something many men are pretty jealous of but don’t have to be. If you’re looking to have more, or better orgasms, there are things you can do. Spending time by yourself or with a partner exploring what feels the best, setting up the right mood and getting to the edge of an orgasm then staving off can make your orgasms much more intense. Training your body and mind with this teasing method (and kegels, lots of kegels) can wildly improve your orgasms. It can also give you more control over when you orgasm – and reaching orgasm at the same time as your partner is insanely hot. As much as Cosmo and Men’s Health can guide your practice, there are an abundance of more scientific and detailed guides out there like OMG Yes!. Don’t underestimate published literature on the subject.
You might feel a hidden disappointment when a partner nods off to sleep or complains of hand cramps trying to finish you off after you blessed them with an orgasm. Accepting this as normal makes orgasms into a chore, not to mention dramatically reduces the chances of getting there and the quality of any eventual release. In some cases you need to take responsibility for your own orgasm: tell your partner that you want to orgasm and help them help you to get there. Guide their touch or DIY while they massage you and whisper sweet (or dirty) thoughts into your ear. It can feel like a selfish thing to explicitly ask for what you want during sex but remember that your partner wants you to enjoy yourself, and taking control of your sexuality and pleasure is definitely sexy.
It’s been disappointing both when a friend came to me concerned that her boyfriend couldn’t ‘make’ her orgasm, thinking that’s all that sex is and when another brags about how often she squirts, and is surprised when no one she knows has shared that experience. It highlights the inherent judgement and competition that dominates how we talk about orgasms as incredibly exclusive and limiting. This discourse forces us to either assume that how we orgasm is either normal or weird – due largely to a lack of information and dialogue about the realities of it. These assumptions put unnecessary and uncalled-for pressure on orgasms which, unsurprisingly, is a huge mood killer. It is unbelievable to me that we sabotage something that gives us pleasure and makes us happy. An unfortunate trope of the human condition, it seems.
The orgasm is what makes sex impressive; it’s the implied success of achieving one that we brag about to our friends. But this whole way of thinking is such an inaccurate representation of real sex and needs to shift to make sex a more egalitarian endeavour. Sex is not a competition; it is something present that should be cultivated both in activity and attitude.