Jul 272011

I’ve had a surprising theme in my conversations with various people lately: not wanting orgasm.

Mostly these have been folks – both people with penises and people with vaginas – who desire sex with some frequency, but desire orgasm with LESSER frequency. They say,

“I just really love making my partner come.”


“I just really love penetration.”


“Orgasm is hard work for me, but sex by itself is really pleasurable!”


“If I come, it’s over. I want it to last.”

To these people, let me say: Yes, you are normal. Orgasm varies from person to person and there are plenty of excellent sources of pleasure from sex that don’t involve orgasm. In many ways, your sexual desire might be MORE functional and healthy than the mainstream orgasm-focused sex we’re all supposed to be having, according to Cosmo.

To their partners let me say: Yes, your partner is normal. It’s not only possible to want sex without orgasm, it’s perfectly healthy. And at the same time, your greater (or more concordant) desire for orgasm is also perfectly healthy. You’re just different.

It’s not a man/woman thing, it’s not a male/female thing. People just vary. It’s one of those things.

Now, orgasm is a limited resource over which power conflicts can emerge. If Partner A has an orgasm, they often want Partner B to have one too. It seems fair. Orgasm takes effort and trust and intimacy and often skill, and if Partner A experiences Partner B as “withholding” orgasm, Partner A may begin to feel like there’s an imbalance. They may feel controlled. They may begin to feel a bit bitter.

Is it possible your partner is deliberately withholding orgasm in order to have control? Sure. If that is what’s happening, then there are OTHER issues in your relationship than just the orgasms, and my suggestion would be to focus on those.

But if not… what is the helpful way of giving the advice, “Let it go”?

Insight can go a long way – i.e., recognizing that you feel controlled by your partner when they aren’t remotely trying to make you feel that way, so now you get to decide what to do with that information. But often people get stuck here and I genuinely don’t know what to tell people past this point.

I bet if I ask nicely, some commenters will have suggestions?

Commenters? Pretty please?