In our modern Western thinking, English speaking culture, the idea of someone being unable to orgasm is most often discussed related to women and their bodies.
But it happens to men too. Maybe not quite as much but it can be just as challenging for guys. Given the beliefs our culture holds about masculinity, and the importance for men’s self-esteem of achieving goals and getting things done, a case could be made that not being able to orgasm is more difficult for men.
My intention in saying this is not to discount women’s experience, but rather to acknowledge the much less frequently discussed challenge men face when they can’t orgasm.
That’s why I want to share some general concepts that apply to everyone, and share what to do if your partner cannot orgasm.
It can be a challenging place to be if you don’t know what to do. You want to be supportive. You want to pleasure them, but how should you respond?
How to Respond If Your Partner Can’t Orgasm
The first important thing to say is that it’s not your job to get your partner to orgasm. If they want to orgasm that’s their job. It’s their responsibility to get to know their own body well enough to know what they need, and then to either do it for themselves or ask you for it.
You can be helpful and accommodating, but trying to do all the 17 things that you can think of and trying really hard to get them to orgasm is not helpful. That puts a lot of pressure on you and it creates pressure for them, too.
Your trying hard puts a extra pressure on them to orgasm. Chances are they already have enough internally created pressure (or even shame) in their own mind.
This can lead to them trying harder, and feeling anxious. Performance anxiety can be a big buzz killer. It might even already be what’s keeping them from orgasming.
Now sometimes it might be fun to put on a performance, to make something sexy happen. I’m not saying it’s always a bad thing. But in this situation where someone can’t orgasm or they’re slow to orgasm, be aware that trying hard to make it happen can backfire because of the subtle pressure it puts on your partner.
They may not consciously think of it as pressure. They may not talk about it as pressure. But on an unconscious level it can create pressure. Perhaps it could even trigger some “inner rebellion” against doing what you want (orgasming).
It’s also good for you to be yourself. If you’re disappointed you’re frustrated, whatever your feelings are, it’s okay to let yourself feel them, even to verbally acknowledge them. It’s key to talk about your own experience, your feelings rather than giving meaning or interpretation to them or blaming your partner for them..
Whether It’s a long-term marriage or a short-term casual sex way of relating, the honest authentic expression of our feelings deepens intimacy. It’s the glue that holds relationships together
Whether you’re feeling disappointment or frustration, there is a kinder and more compassionate way to talk about your feelings. Venting or unchecked verbal outbursts aren’t helpful, especailly right in the middle of a sexual encounter.
You don’t need to dwell on it or speak about them at length, but holding your emotins in completely isn’t helpful. The key is to find the middle ground here. To be yourself and authentically express your feelings without focusing on it too much in a way that might upset your partner.
It’s very easy for people to pick up when you’re not telling them the truth or when you’re withholding something or just not being yourself. That can be damaging for the trust between you.
The timing also makes a difference. What you say right when it happens and what you say the next day over breakfast or dinner might be very different levels of depth or clarity.
If your partner consistently cannot orgasm, it would be helpful to encourage your partner to talk with their doctor. There can be hormonal and other medical reasons why someone can’t orgasm.
Often, the reasons for not being able to orgasm have to do with how their used to interacting with their body and their thought process, how they think about sex and intimacy as well as their body awareness and focus of attention.
While it can be helpful for your partner to talk with their doctor, for that to really be most effective they need to want to and be ready to do so. Pressure from you won’t help. Doctors rarely have time or inclination to help with these issues, but it’s important to rule out hormonal issues, medical problems and medication side effects.
They may need some time to feel comfortable and ready, some people may even need to find another doctor before they feel comfortable talking about their sex life. However, if you can do it in a gentle, supportive way, it’s helpful to encourage them to talk with their doctor.
Rather than Focusing on Orgasm, Encourage Curiosity, Exploration and Pleasure
Having said all this, the single most important thing you can do when your partner cannot orgasm is to encourage curiosity and exploration.
It’s very easy when someone cannot orgasm for them to get into a focused state of trying to figure it out. It’s easy to have such a hard focus on the goal of orgasm that they stop enjoying sex. That can be very disruptive for feeling connected in bed, not to mention being able to orgasm.
Instead, encourage curiosity and exploring pleasure. Let feeling pleasure be the focus not orgasm.
Rather than focusing on “how can, we make an orgasm happen?” focus instead on pleasure and exploration.
You could invite your female or male partner to set aside the goal of that elusive orgasm and just focus on what feels good right now.
You might say to or ask your partner questions like,
- Can you be curious with me?
- What feels great?
- How could that feel better?
- Let’s just do more of what feels great.
- What would help you relax a little more?
- What would feel good?
Of course, don’t ask all these questions all at once unless you’re consensually role playing an interrogation! These are just some ideas of a helpful approach.
When Your Partner Can’t Orgasm How You Respond Is Important
The inability to orgasm affects men, not just women. There are many reasons why someone may not be able to orgasm. It’s helpful to talk with a doctor to rule out hormonal or medical issues. Often, however, the reasons have to do with thought patterns and ways of interacting with their own body,
If your partner cannot orgasm, it’s great to be supportive. But don’t do this at the cost of not being yourself. As the partner of someone who cannot orgasm, the most important thing you can do is to encourage curiosity, exploration and following the pleasure that can be felt right now.