How Not to Respond When Your Partner Doesn’t Orgasm

When either partner doesn’t orgasm, it’s up to both to define and achieve mutual satisfaction.

“You didn’t finish, did you?” he asked.

“No,” I said.

I’ve lied before, but I’m trying to wean myself away from it. Lying only adds a layer of mental unease to any lingering physical dissatisfaction I might be feeling, and assuaging false pride rarely seems like a good deal. The dishonesty (to myself) leaves a bad taste in my mouth; if he bothered to ask, doesn’t he want the truth?

“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” he said.

That was that. We turned back to Ted Allen and his basket of freakish goodies on Chopped. He left an hour later, after a shower and snack, apparently unconcerned.

♦◊♦

After his departure, I pondered conversations we might have had in an alternate universe, one in which I was trained to ask for what I wanted, and he was trained to expect to give as much as he got. He could have offered to address the situation on the spot. He could have asked me what I would have liked, for next time. He could have reached for the Post-its by my bed and written an IOU that he could have offered with a sheepish grin. He could have thanked me for taking one for the team. He could have done something, anything, to indicate that he recognized that I, too, have desires that are worthy of time and energy.

In this alternate universe, I might have made suggestions earlier in the evening to ensure my own good time. I might have shown him, without being prompted, what I liked. Afterward, I might have called his nonchalant response for the lazy cop-out it was. I might have demanded reparations, asked for the Post-it IOU myself. I might have sighed and asked him to leave.

But I did none of these things. We watched Chopped.

♦◊♦

Sex isn’t a mine, yours, mine, yours kind of game. At least, I would never want it to be. Good sex, in my opinion, is a mine, mine, yours, mine, yours, ours, yours, yours, ours, mine oh-my-god-enough kind of game. It’s not about taking turns; it’s about mutual satisfaction, however one might define and achieve it. I neither defined nor achieved it.

Maybe this is what I get for the casual, non-committal nature of my tryst. In a relationship, the IOU might be unspoken, the implicit “I’ll get you next time” sufficing in such situations because “next time” might be in a few hours, or that night, or the next morning. With this partner of mine, there might be a next time, but who’s to say how soon? We both entered the evening with the same expressed expectations and hopes. His were met; mine were not. Whose fault is that?

I want to say it’s his, or whichever past girlfriend taught him that a “yeah, that’s what I thought” was sufficient. But I am responsible too, for turning back to the show and condoning his selfishness. Maybe he wouldn’t have listened, maybe he would have rolled his eyes and muttered something rude. Maybe he would have ignored me in the moment, but spent the cab ride home mulling my admonitions around in his head until something clicked into place. Maybe his next partner would have thanked me. I don’t know, but at least I could say that I tried.

—Photo Katie Tegtmeyer/Flickr

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About Emily Heist Moss

Emily Heist Moss is a New Englander in love with Chicago, where she works at a tech start-up. She's a serious reader and a semi-pro TV buff. She writes about gender, media, and politics at her blog, Rosie Says. (Follow her: @rosiesaysblog, find Rosie Says on Facebook). 

Comments

  1. You guys write some pretty good articles here, but I’m seriously having a hard time deciding if it’s good enough to put up with all those noisy video ads.

  2. Against news-speak says:

    If you do 100’s of kegels a day, your ability to orgasm will increase, there are also breathing exercises and as we all know, orgasm and sex is more mental than manual, so you can take some responsibility beyond berating him for his supposed selfishness.

  3. Against news-speak says:

    Also, and apologies to everyone for the double post.

    I’ve read a few pieces of your writing here and sense an undercurrent of hostility for and lack of respect for men, so this will hinder you too.

    You have likely misinterpreted him, what has been framed as his failure to make you orgasm and his lack of concern, is likely causing him mental pain and self doubt which you aren’t seeing, so adding guilt and blame into the mix might not be the best way forward for you.

  4. Presuming you know what happened better than the author does, and attempting to squelch a genuine attempt at fostering more productive dialogue around sex might not be the best way forward for you, “news-speak”.

    • A news-speak says:

      Jessie

      I’m basing my comments on what the OP has told us, her attitude and her track record of writing pieces that contain misandry.

      Men aren’t going to buy dating or sex advice from women that resent men, especially feminist women because they tend to blame the nearest man for their own failings.

      The pattern here in this mag, a supposedly male mag. is hilarious, TGMP pays a misandrist of some description to write for men, men object to the misandry and generally the only commentators supporting it are feminist women.

      • Something about today’s society that concerns me greatly is when men as a group decide that women are raging feminists who are just here to tear men apart simply because they speak up and disagree with something that men have either said or done. My girlfriend has told me if she hasn’t gotten off and that she was displeased with that and we have talked about better ways to get her off as well (longer fore-play, more oral attention etc). As a fellow man and regular reader of TGMP and more specifically this author, I don’t now, nor have I ever viewed her as a radical feminist with an anti-male agenda. Rather, I have seen a woman who is trying to support positive sexual relations between men and women by telling us the other side. We all complain that we will “never understand women” well, this is our chance. Keeping an open mind and now allowing our already societally enhanced egos from being bruised is crucial when reading things like this.

        When reading this article I didn’t get the impression that the writer resents men, or even the man involved, (which in all seriousness she has every right to). Instead it seems she resented herself more for not speaking up when the time was right and is giving us advice as to how to read our partners for signs if we too have a partner who is too nervous to voice that she didn’t get everything out of our sexual experience that she could have.

        My suggestion would be to take a deep breath and check the ego at the door. And besides, it’s just an online article… Why raise the blood pressure over it?

        • Un-Good man says:

          The writer comes from a culture where male-negativity and sex-negativity is normal, she doesn’t question that at all as being a possible source of her dissatisfaction.

          Why raise the blood pressure? Well many men, are sick to the back teeth of feminist culture.

          • A good woman says:

            …”she doesn’t question that at all as being a possible source of her dissatisfaction.”

            Spoken like someone who has never had to question why his partner didn’t care enough to keep sex going until both people were actually done. Must be nice.

  5. Anonymous Male says:

    I didn’t think of the article as hostile to men or necessarily even hostile to that particular sex partner, but I do think there may have been a misunderstanding or miscommunication between two people in a tryst. He could have been apathetic about whether or not you had an orgasm. He could have been motivated by pure orgasm selfishness. That’s certainly a valid interpretation.

    Another possibility, not necessarily mutually exclusive, is that he thinks he’s not supposed to put pressure on you to have one. Or, he knows that many women are fine with not having an orgasm every time or that orgasm is not necessarily the main goal for many women. Perhaps with his previous partners, he learned to accept that sometimes women are satisfied with not having an orgasm. He should have been more communicative, and should have acted more curious, but I suspect in a clumsy way he was leaving it to you to speak up about it. Less than ideal, certainly, but not necessarily because he just didn’t care.

    I think it’s courageous to talk about this, and I think it’s great that you decided not to lie. I commend you for admitting that your part in the conversation was not ideal either.

  6. get a life says:

    Change your name to Miss Misandrist…that is in fact what you are and you like to cloak male bashing in with so called self-help or whatever articles to try and make it not look so obvious.Sort of like an idiot’s way of keeping a conversation going-blatant or subtle…hater.

    • I know I shouldn’t feed a troll but here goes — how is it male bashing or misandrist for a woman to say that she is disappointed that she didn’t get an orgasm? She admits she should have asked for what she wanted, while being disappointed that he didn’t seem to care. The tone of the article expresses disappointment with herself as well as him. or are you implying that women shouldn’t care if sex is satisfying, that they have no right to want satisfying sex, and no right to be disappointed if they feel unsatisfied? We should never think about our own pleasure or want to get something for ourselves out of the experience? If that is your attitude then I pity any woman who makes the mistake of having sex with you.

    • Anonymous Male says:

      In response to “get a life”:

      I am having trouble seeing where this particular article is misandrist, but I know interpretation is highly subjective, so I’ll keep an open mind about what you wrote. I think I could understand your point better if you could provide a counter-model — if she were NOT misandrist, how would she have written it differently? How would a non-misandrist woman write an article about being disappointed in not having an orgasm?

  7. Othomson says:

    This is a tricky one, i’ve heard a multitude of the Women in my life complain that a guy often puts too much effort into trying to make her Orgasm and it just ends up ruining the sex, things like this need to be handled on a relationship by relationship basis, Not “Men are selfish if they don’t pump me until i’m done!” Because i’ll tell you the genuine truth alot of the Women i know would be terribly pissed off if their men tried that, its about being intimate with your partner and not orgasms. I mean Christ most Women complain about the natural length of time it takes for a man to reach Orgasm, you wonder why we have guys everywhere desperately searching for a way to last longer, sidelining their own pleasure to “Perform” for their partner and meet her needs?

  8. A news-speak says:

    Emily

    If you believe you have been trained not to ask for things and that its only possible an other universe to ask for these things, then thats the way it is, for you This is the sort of mental cage that victim feminism puts women in.

    It would be far more useful to own your hang ups. “I have certain sexual inhibitions and hangups that I need to work through” is far better.

    Avoid Jezebel and Feministing and any other male negative sources, especially ones that relentlessly promote rape propaganda and lies.

    Also, do your kegels like I said, perhaps invest in a pair of smart balls to wear during the day or one of the other products to strengthen those muscles, take personal responsibility for asking for what you want and don’t be afraid to use your hand or a bullet or something to help you along the way next time you are with your partner.

  9. As an older, lefty, politically experienced guy who lived though the race and “gender role” upheavals of the 60’s and early 70’s, I can think of no less productive dialogue that is imbedded in labeling and boxing the complexity of any person in to a label (eg. misandrit [Do I spell it correctly? It can be challenging to keep up with the most adroit and current personal attack terms.], chauvinist, feminist, nigger, fag]. Possibly keeping the focus of the discussion on the content of how best to help men and women build their capacity to more freely incorporate healthy and productive communication into sexual life.

  10. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Well, thinking way back to the rifle range in Army basic training (where they said not to know or care when the rifle goes off when you’re squeezing the trigger), I think the female orgasm is contingent on two things:

    1. Continuing stimulating activities (oral, intercourse, finger, vibrator, whatever) at length in the same mode without changing the activity or position or whatever.

    2. Absolutely not caring if the woman comes or not. Instead keep focus on your own sensations, while also trying to feel within your partner. Very similar to aikido, where you can feel into the other person’s body.

    3. In no way track or monitor the woman’s progress toward orgasm. Women will tell you they can tell if you’re doing this, and it’s a downer. I never try to promote simultaneous orgasms, by the way. Slow action is my personal favorite.

    4. I know that there are people who orgasm off of excitement, and these like to have mutual orgasms, respond to fast action, and so forth. It’s harder with these people, but you can still use many of the above principles– you’re just moving faster.

  11. watchningppldigginginthewrongplace says:

    Good lord, talk about over complication, the point isn’t weather or not “the man should be held responsible for her orgasm”. The point is “she would like him to give just a bit more than a rats tale when she doesn’t”. I have experienced this as a man believe it or not. My last partner was simply took a lot less time pop than I did, and every time I didn’t she would just ask me if I wanted her to “play a little longer” out of care for my pleasure. WTF is wrong with asking for the same treatment? The women in the article isn’t “mad because he didn’t make her orgasm”, hell she admits in the first portion of the post that she DID orgasm she just threw out a “test” to see what her partner would have done if she hadn’t. The point (at least how I received it) is how hard is it to throw a “ohh you didn’t pop baby? You want to play a little longer” or offer to make HER the sandwich this time or something.

    I’m sorry if my tone is a bit brash, it just seems like a sexual partner wanting you to show concern over their sexual pleasure is pretty par for the course in having sex with other people.

  12. QuantumInc says:

    I realize that a lot of women put responsibility for their pleasure at the feet of men. Though common it is a silly and damaging notion that a man can somehow compensate for his partner’s sexual issues.

    Fortunately that is not what is happening here.

    Seriously did you actually read the article? She explicitly states that she doesn’t blame him. She’s tempted to blame him, but she knows better BECAUSE she’s a feminist. She avoids the easy misandrist route BECAUSE she’s a feminist. She appropriately recognizes her sexual hang-ups because of what she learned from feminism. The hang up she focuses on her is a lack of assertiveness. She never asked, thus it would be unreasonable to expect anything of him. However it seems half the commenters missed the part where she blames herself for that very reason.

  13. ZZZZZZZZZ..... says:

    Oh PLEASE femisists & pro sex type feminists
    are ALL ABOUT male bashing,they continually bash
    men.Some of their favorite topics and ace cards: penis size discussions,monetary status
    male privilege card (usually white male privilege ) topics.Gay rights,minorities
    blahhhhh and other inflated delusions.

    .Most of the online feminist bunch
    are so young they’ve never been through squat in their lives,yet they complain
    tlike hey are the most oppressed.Think american men are bad move to Egypt or
    the mideast and then you’ll see what TRUE hatred of women is.You’ll fall to the ground
    and thank the lord that you have american men.

  14. I think you’re reading a little too much into it.

    I swear, every time I’m having sex, and it looks like i’m going to orgasm first, I promise in my head that I will go down on my girlfriend after I’m done. And then… after I orgasm, I have absolutely no desire to follow through. It’s difficult to make the gestures you’re asking for, because a man might be afraid you’ll ask him to continue “right now”, when the arousal is pretty much through.

    Sometimes, jumping right in is fun… but it’s likely to leave the woman wanting more after the man is finished. Both the man and woman can help the situation by committing to a little more foreplay before starting to have sex.

    • Un-Good man says:

      Why not encourage your gf to do kegels, and buy her an exerciser.

      You are internalising the womans perspective, that it is all your responsibility and if you are drained after you cum and you don’t perform for her you are bad.

      Put some of that responsibility back on her, its not just on you.

  15. It happens very, very seldom and usually has nothing to do with me. If there are other things going on in her head, she might not. But, she says she just enjoys the experience regardless. It’s very emotional for her, and the connection is what she really wants. So, she tells me. However, her orgasm is what I really want, far more than my own, which is why she usually gets at least two and almost never zero. Hers is the main course for me. Mine is just desert.

    • Un-good man says:

      I think thats the way most guys feel. I get more of a kick out of her orgasm than I do my own.

  16. Natasha says:

    “He could have offered to address the situation on the spot. He could have asked me what I would have liked, for next time. He could have reached for the Post-its by my bed and written an IOU that he could have offered with a sheepish grin. He could have thanked me for taking one for the team. He could have done something, anything, to indicate that he recognized that I, too, have desires that are worthy of time and energy.”

    OR…..how about not being so goddamn passive aggressive? How about this —

    When he opened the door to conversation, by asking me if I finished, I should have addressed the situation on the spot, I should have talked with him about things I like, things that have worked in the past…better yet, I could have SHOWN him….I could’ve taken his hand/cock/mouth and shown him what I like and what works….or, I could’ve told him to lay there and regroup and to WATCH me while I used my own hands/toys/whatever…it COULD’VE been hot, and informative and perhaps result in some mature relationship/sexual growth, but INSTEAD, I opted to write an article about how he should have THANKED me for being a closed mouthed uptight responsibility shifting, blame diverting child who, although is HAVING sex, seems not mature enough to TALK about sex….

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