When Great Sex Doesn’t End In An Orgasm (And Why That’s OK!)

No one has ever been able to give me an orgasm. Well, besides myself (because y’all know I’m all about sexy self-loving). And it’s really not their fault. 

And I’m not blaming myself either — this isn’t one of the classic, “Well, I should know what to ask for,” or, “He has a weak neck,” or even the age-old lie, “I don’t even really like oral anyway…” 

I have heard both of the last two excuses from partners, and have definitely been down the road of self-blame as well. It’s easy to blame yourself, especially if you have the experience of being raised as a woman in a world where your orgasm always comes second to a man’s. To add to that pressure, mainstream feminists are really concerned about the Orgasm Gap — and rightly so. It seems like in order to be a sexually empowered feminist nowadays, you have to demand an orgasm

But . . . what about those of us who don’t need an orgasm for a complete and equally mind-blowing sexual experience? With all this pressure to get what you want in the bedroom, I find that the mutual orgasm is still treated as the be-all, end-all of sex. But “want” is subjective. 

As a proud Feminist Against Faking It, and as someone who will fight tooth and nail to empower everyone — especially women — in the bedroom, I was totally ready to support the struggle against the Orgasm Gap. In empowering others, it felt easy. I encouraged a lot of my friends to successfully advocate for themselves and their pleasure in bed. But with myself, it was completely different. For a long time I just thought that something was wrong with me, and that it was somehow making me look bad as a feminist that I wasn’t getting off with someone else. Especially since it seemed like women everywhere were suddenly becoming orgasmic and empowered. I wanted some of that. 

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So was there something wrong with me? Why couldn’t I just take my own damn advice? Aside from that being the universal question for all humanity, it was really starting to bug me in the bedroom. 

I tried communication. 

It made receiving pleasure a hell of a lot better. 

I tried incorporating pleasure products. 

It made receiving pleasure a hell of a lot better. 

I tried a different partner, who was more invested in my pleasure. 

It made receiving pleasure a hell of a lot better. 

But I could feel myself reaching a plateau — I just could never get in the right headspace to really let loose and GET OFF.  What is it about that perfect combination of the right spot, the right tempo, the right person, and emotional and physical vulnerability that I wasn’t getting right?

Then it came to me. 

Some of us [read: ME] just have too much going on to be vulnerable like that in front of someone else. And for so long I let my frustration with myself get in the way of just enjoying sex the way that I want. 

Working on being vulnerable is an ongoing and deeply personal journey that, of course, will affect my sex life. But I’m not going to wait around for me to get over my personal issues to have great sex. If orgasms are a gift I can only give myself, power to me. 

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Even though I don’t physically get off, I get so much else from sex. Physical closeness with another human being, getting to explore and communicate in very primal and vulnerable ways. The give and take, push and pull, the sweat, the breath. It’s all great. Now and moving forward, I want to prioritize my pleasure in all the ways that are really true to me and my body — and for me that does not include an orgasm with a partner. 

I’m definitely not done working on myself. That, and the sexual aspects that go along with personal work, is something that is going to naturally evolve as it progresses. I’d love to be able to get to a place mentally and emotionally where I can be open and feel safe enough to have an orgasm. And with my current partner, that is feeling like a more distinct possibility every day – and that’s NOT something I would have said with any of my other long-term sexual partners. 

But at the same time, I’m not putting pressure on myself (or him) to rush to that point. It’s going to take a lot of work, communication, and vulnerability in all areas of our relationship. Right now, I’m totally optimistic for the future, thankful for such a wonderful partner to share this experience and growth with, and proud of myself for the personal progress I’ve made on my mental and emotional journey. 

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Through my experiences, I’ve come to see that women deserve to be empowered in their own desires, or lack thereof, rather than struggle to empower themselves in a way that is prescribed to them. Because that’s not true empowerment. Just because Nicki Minaj wants you to demand an orgasm, doesn’t mean that you should feel pressured to do so if you’re not in the right mental and emotional place.

For those of you who are empowered by getting off and getting yours — awesome, incredible, you deserve it! But for everyone else on their own sexual journeys — if you’re having a great time, you’re already doing amazing! Sex is different for everyone, and that’s ok!


About The Author, Elizabeth Mason

A recent graduate of UC Berkeley, Elizabeth Mason earned her degree in Gender and Women’s Studies. Currently, she is looking towards graduate school, and hopes to continue to focus her studies on womxn’s health and sexual wellness. Her main interests include identity politics and their relation to issues surrounding womxn’s healthcare and sexual liberation. She looks forward to the day when all womxn are empowered socially, politically, and – most importantly – sexually. She can be found on Instagram @elizabeth.mason.

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