I have been meeting more and more women who come into treatment complaining about their inability to have an orgasm. Actually, this one of the simplest problems I encounter as a sex therapist.
It turns out that one part of the problem is that these women have not felt comfortable openly discussing their sexual likes and dislikes. While I have not seen this issue reflected as often among lesbians, straight women seem unbelievably worried about the damage that negative feedback will give to their partners’ egos.
One of the most amazing stories I encountered revolves around a woman who was married to the same man, Joe , for 40 years. Let’s call her Lillian (not her real name.) Lillian never was able to orgasm with Joe because he didn’t spend enough time touching her erogenous zones. She wanted her hair touched, and her throat kissed, and her shoulders stroked, but Joe did not do these things.
But from the start of the marriage, she faked orgasms. After coming into therapy, Lillian did some more exploration on her own, and she learned, first, how to have an orgasm by positioning herself under the faucet in her bathtub. Then, after that worked, and the pattern of becoming orgasmic was one that her neurological system became accustomed to, Lillian learned how to give herself an orgasm by touching herself with her fingers.
Finally, Lillian approached Joe and told him that she had not been having orgasms with him. She wanted to teach Joe what to do to make her have one.
She wanted him to touch her on her neck, hair, throat and shoulders, and then she wanted him to touch her genitals the way she had discovered worked well for her.
Joe’s remarkable response was to say to Lillian, “Yes, you were too having an orgasm!! I was right there. I saw them.” Lillian could not get Joe to budge. She was frustrated, and kept having orgasms on her own.
A few years later, Lillian came to see me. She told me that Joe had died. It was unfortunate, because she loved him.
But the story had a happy ending. She wanted me to know that she was dating again, and she had a fellow she really liked, and she gave him all of the information he would need to know to touch her in a way that made her excited. And she was happily having orgasms with him almost each time they made love.
If you don’t’ talk about what you do and don’t enjoy, and your partner is not touching you skillfully — or worse, is touching you in a way you hate — besides not coming to orgasm, your sexual desire will vanish. If you avoid honest conversations about pleasure, you might wind up in a pattern of having unsatisfying sex with your partner.
If you know what you like, and you aren’t communicating it, then you have to take responsibility for learning how to give kind but direct communication to your partner. Here are some ways you can do that.
Faking orgasm is almost always a bad idea. Be courageous and learn how to give kind feedback, and your sexual life will thrive.
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