Pub date March 15, 2011

Dear Andrea:

I’m living with my first “serious” girlfriend and everything is great except the sex. As far as I can tell, she is having orgasms but I’m not. When we have sex I have to finish myself off with my hand. I don’t think it’s supposed to go this way.



Dear Dis:

You don’t say whether you’ve ever had intercourse with anyone else before Serious, but I’m going to guess not.

So anyway. A little self-stim never hurt anyone. I don’t think that part is, in and of itself, a problem. Technically, it’s actually a solution. It could be a bit grim, though, to always have to rely on your own devices despite having gone to all the trouble to acquire and keep a partner.

Typically, anorgasmia and, uh, semi-orgasmia are usually a girl problem, with guy problems tending to run to the can’t-get-it-up, can’t-keep-it-up, and “whoops!” varieties. Or maybe you’re on SSRI antidepressants, which I’m kind of hoping you are, because that can be fixed.

No? And no blood pressure meds either, right? Or any scarring or neuropathy or … no, you’re like 20 years old. So it’s almost certainly not some physical thing. Probably you are entirely capable of reaching orgasm easily but you’re not letting yourself.

Do you think you might be going kind of out-of-body and are watching yourself perform instead of feeling yourself feel? Are you wondering if she really likes having sex with you or is just pretending? All this falls under the clunky-sounding rubric of “specatatoring,” and you can get out of the habit but it does take some work.

Are you anxious? Worried about keeping it up? Judging yourself? Raised to believe that sex is bad — or that premarital sex is bad? Or are you fine with sex but terribly worried you’ll get her pregnant and ruin everybody’s life?

Obviously that last one can be addressed with technology. And other anxieties can be salved through other technologies, be they drugs or meditation or talking to each other so you can stop wondering and worrying about what she might be thinking.

But maybe what’s wrong is the intercourse itself. An old instructor of mine used to teach that sex is nothing but fantasy plus friction, and if you’re OK in the fantasy department, maybe you need more friction. Move! Put her on top. Try it from behind. I don’t care, just try something else. And try more lube while you’re at it, and also, less.

Or maybe you are one of those men, not rare but rarely spoken of, who just don’t like intercourse much. You didn’t have this problem back while you were still letting yourselves have teenage sex before you moved in together. If this is the case, all you have to do is add back the stuff you like to the stuff she (presumably) likes and boom, everybody’s happy.

Final possibility? You two are not very good at this. This, too, is OK — lack of knowledge and lack of skill are entirely curable conditions.



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