May 31, 2019
Help! I Can’t Orgasm With My Partner
Jess and Brandon respond to a listener who can orgasm on her own, but not with her partner. They share tips, insights, personal stories as well as practical mindfulness strategies you can try tonight.
Please find a rough transcript of this podcast below…
Welcome to the Sex With Dr. Jess Podcast.
We’re going to talk about orgasms today. We have a question from a listener.
“I have been having trouble orgasming with a partner, but by myself, it’s extremely easy. I have tried to add sex toys when I’m with my partner (which is the usual way I orgasm on my own), but that didn’t even work. He feels insecure since he can’t make me orgasm and I’m embarrassed.”
First – you have nothing to be embarrassed about. Your orgasm is for you. It’s not about your partner — unless you’re playing with that fantasy specifically — often in a kinky way. You might allow your partner to take control of your orgasm.
One example might involve orgasm denial. It can be — with consent.
Orgasm denial is often practiced as BDSM and it involves maintaining arousal without allow orgasm to follow. You might bring your partner to the brink and then pull back and stop altogether. And then you can continue to repeat. You might use your hands or body or you might use chastity belts or cock cages to prevent simulation of the genitals.
Some people create a whole scene or experience around orgasm denial and others simply play with it in passing. They might tease their partner that they’re going to pull back and not let them orgasm.
But back to the question.
Let’s begin with the basics. Your partner doesn’t really give you an orgasm. They might be a part of the process, but your body — with your brain at the helm — gives you an orgasm. They can physically and mentally be a part of the stimulation process, but ultimately, it’s your nerve endings that communicate with the brain and it’s your brain that fires in multiple regions. And then at orgasm, your brain’s center of reason and behavior (the lateral orbitofrontal cortex just behind your left eye) actually shuts down momentarily allowing your animalistic needs to overpower any reservations or preoccupations.
When you can orgasm on your own, but not with a partner, oftentimes it’s because you do something physically different on your own. You use toys, you use your hands, you rub on the outside, you contort your body in a natural way, you breathe differently when you’re on your own and it facilitates orgasm easily. But then when you get with a partner, you change it up. You’re more focused on penetration, you move your body for their pleasure, you control your body at different angles, you hold your breath, you hold back or exaggerate your sounds and all of those physical activities simply don’t lead to orgasm.
If this is the case, you’ll want to bring your masturbation practices — the angles, the toys, the techniques into your partnered play and replicate them. And this will likely lead to orgasm.
In your case, however, you use toys to orgasm and you’ve already tried bringing them in to partnered play, so you likely need to consider another angle: And that’s performance pressure.
If you’re doing the exact same things with your partner as you do when you’re alone and you still can’t enjoy an orgasm when your partner is present, it’s likely a matter of mindset, mood and pressure.
So first — I want you to remove the physical barriers to orgasm. Is is the way you’re positioned? Move into the position you use when you masturbate most often and have your partner work around you. Is it the setting? Try to replicate the setting in terms of location, lighting, temperature, what you’re wearing. Again, have your partner work around you. Is it the physical sensations? When you use a toy alone, how do you do it? Can you show your partner with your hand? If you’re using the toy that always leads to orgasm, is there something else they’re doing that you find distracting? Maybe they’re flicking your nipples or looking you in the eye or kissing you in a way that detracts from the sensations. Show them what you like. Tell them what you like. And don’t worry about your orgasm yet. Just focus on your pleasure.
Then — you need to rid yourself of performance pressure. If you’re hung up on having on an orgasm, you become focused on the goal and it draws your mind away from the present. If you’re thinking about whether or not you’ll orgasm, you can’t think about the way their hands, lips or a toy feel against your body. If you’re worried about what they’re thinking, you can’t possibly enjoy the pleasure sensations.
Similarly, if you’re thinking about how you look, worried about what they’re thinking, preoccupied with how you sound — all of these elements detract from presence. And you will not enjoy sex to its full extent and you’re unlikely to orgasm if you’re not present. Remember that in order for the the lateral orbitofrontal cortex to shut down, you have to let go. You have to allow your brain and body to do their thing, but if you’re putting pressure on your body to perform, it simply cannot.
It’s easy to say, don’t think about orgasm – just enjoy the pleasure. But it’s not always easy to do. But you have to learn because when you worry about orgasm and then you don’t orgasm, you create a negative feedback loop and the worry and distress probably increases each time.
So, you have many options to let go of performance pressure. The practice of mindfulness with physical exercises and sensations is probably your best bet. You can go back and listen to the episode on Tantra with Amina Peterson she walks you through a body scan.
You can practice mindfulness with an app like Headspace. You can take my online course on Mindful Sex which focuses on the emotional elements of presence, the sensations of presence as well as touch activities you can do that are non-sensual to help you connect with your body.
And these partnered activities — like the hand caress and the face caress — can help prime your body to be at ease not only with itself, but with your partner. I’ll give you a summary — take ten minutes and get comfortable. Clear the room of distractions. And close your eyes. Have your partner touch your hands and forearms gently for sensual pleasure. It’s not sexual — it’s about developing physical connections and learning to take pleasure. All you do is sit there, breathe and enjoy the sensations. Notice the texture, the temperature, the rhythm, the pressure, the movement, the sounds, the energy. Take note of what you feel in your body as you breathe deeply and indulge in taking pleasure. When your mind wanders or if you feel pressure or self consciousness, notice the experience or distraction and simply bring your mind back to the present moment and tune into the sensations.
Exercises like this aren’t going to give you an orgasm — unless you have very sensitive hands — but it can be helpful to learn to be mindful of emotions and physical sensations outside of the bedroom before you try to transfer these practices into the bedroom.
By practicing a hand caress, you’re training your partner to touch you for touch’s sake — as opposed to touching you with a specific goal in mind. They’re touching you for your pleasure — not for their own achievement. And you’re learning to feel the sensations in your body. You’ll learn to redirect your thoughts to your body’s experience instead of worrying about your body’s performance.
In our Mindful Sex course, we walk you through breathing exercises, visualizations, sensual touch activities, emotional presence activities and sexual touch approaches with videos, audio guides and worksheets. The goal isn’t just to have hotter sex, but to shift the way you move through life and the way you approach your partners. These exercises are calming, they’re grounding and they can help to address feelings of worry and anxiety on a daily basis.
You can find the course at HappierCouples.com.
And if you’re not interested, that’s okay too. But try the hand caress to begin with. Most of us don’t sit still and receive pleasure for ten minutes without feeling the need to reciprocate, so it’s good practice and of course, it feels good too.
Taking us back to orgasming with a partner, it’s likely that you’ll need to learn to be more in the moment and enjoy pleasure in your body without pressure. Pressure is the antithesis to pleasure and if your partner is putting pressure on you to orgasm, not only are they decreasing the chances of it actually happening, but they’re likely detracting from their own pleasure as well.
There is also a flip side to honing in on the sensations of the present moment in order to increase your chance of having an orgasm: Some people find that when they fantasize, they feel more present.
This may sound like a contradiction to everything I’ve just said, but some people find that they can tune into their bodies more intensely when they allow their mind to escape from reality. In other words, they take their mind away to some hot, sexual fantasy land and this gets them really aroused. Once they’re really aroused – the oxytocin and adrenaline floods their body, their inhibitions drop, performance pressure is assuaged and they can feel the physical sensations more intensely. So they take their mind away first in order to be able to bring it back to the present. I’ve heard some people call this approach a crutch, but if it works for you, don’t worry about categorizing it. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you experience pleasure. It doesn’t matter how you orgasm. Just do what feels good for you.
So I wish you luck. Hopefully you can:
- Change what you’re doing physically to match what you do on your own
- Practice mindfulness to reduce the performance pressure
- Or fantasize to escape from reality momentarily and this too can reduce performance pressure and allow you to really enjoy the moment.
I think you’ve got this.
This podcast is brought to you by Desire Resorts.