Hetero male sexuality is pretty simple.
The vast majority of the time, getting a guy to orgasm is so easy that sometimes he'll even reach the finish line much, much earlier than he meant to. I'm always baffled when I see women's magazines with headlines like “How to Please Your Man Every Time!” You're not solving a Rubik's Cube.
That said, men aren't always on the verge of orgasm. At least, not after high school. On the contrary. We, too, can be in a position where we find it necessary to fake it. In fact, I've been there.
Like so many other people who write professionally for the Internet, I'm a bundle of nerves, neuroses and enough insecurities to inspire Woody Allen's next movie. As such, I've spent the better part of my post-preteen years on and off a variety of medications in an effort to alleviate the crushing terror of being a person in the world.
If you've ever seen a commercial, you know that medications often carry with them an assortment of fun side effects, usually described a little too casually by a soothing voice that sounds like it's listing off the ingredients you need to bake cookies.
“Side effects may include dizziness, dry mouth, night sweats, homicidal thoughts, homicidal actions, rectal itching, turning into a half-human half-fly hybrid monster ...”
I'm so used to this pattern of adjusting to a new medication that, for the most part, I barely notice the side effects. Until I tried an antidepressant that, in some men, can make it difficult to have an orgasm.
I already knew this was a possibility, but for some reason, I just assumed I'd be one of the guys who's able to take this medication without any problems. I was wrong.
The pills didn't deplete my libido. I still wanted sex as badly as I normally did (a lot), and as frequently as I normally did (right now). I was also physically able to, ahem, “start the process.” Finishing it was another story.
My girlfriend at the time understood and supported my decision to take medication. The first few times we had trouble, she didn't immediately freak out. She didn't take it personally.
I was still attracted to her, and I still enjoyed sex. I just couldn't have an orgasm anymore. We tried going for longer than normal, but that didn't help. In fact, it just made things worse. While it's nice to last for a while in bed, after a certain amount of time, you're both going to end up exhausted, bored or crying.
And sex starts to become a lot less fun when, every single time you do it, there's a built-in goal that starts to feel more like a chore than anything else. Finding creative ways to please your lover makes sex interesting. But when you start to realize that there aren't any ways to please your lover, it gets old pretty quickly.
I don't blame my ex for eventually getting upset. At first, we both thought this was a minor problem that would go away once my body adjusted to the medicine. When it became clear that wasn't going to happen, it also became clear that sex between us just wasn't going to be as good anymore.
Even though she knew that my inability to climax had nothing to do with her, any time you're doing something as emotional as sleeping with your significant other, the ability to fully accept a rational explanation tends to diminish. She began to feel less attractive. Her enthusiasm toward the idea of getting in bed plummeted.
When we did give it a shot, even if she enjoyed herself for the first few minutes, it would always end on an unhappy note: I'd keep going, her expression would shift from “aroused” to “irritated,” and she'd have to ask, “Is it gonna happen?”
I'd have to be honest, and apologetic: “No, but really, it's not your fault. I still liked it.”
And it would all pretty much follow the same formula after that. I'd stop, she'd head to the bathroom to “clean up” (I heard her crying a few times), we'd get dressed, and I'd awkwardly try to find a way to change the subject.
Once again, I don't blame her for being upset. It's easy to start feeling bad about yourself when you can't please your partner anymore, no matter what the true root of the problem is.
Anyway, yeah, we stopped having sex for a while. In fact, the only time we felt comfortable being intimate was after we'd both had a couple of drinks, and were happily buzzed enough to not think as much about my, uh, condition.
Thankfully (sort of), the medication stopped working.
I need to take this quick moment to say that, if you're getting any sort of treatment for a mental health issue, it will take time to fully work, and it will also potentially cause some inconveniences in other areas of your life. Don't quit something without consulting your doctor.
In my case, I did give the medication a fair shot, and after speaking with my doctor and truly assessing the situation, I decided to try something else. I'd wean myself off of the pills in the meantime.
Even though I was still technically on the medication, I thought my orgasmic difficulties were over. I told my girlfriend the good news, and later that week, we decided to celebrate by having real person, “Let's both have an orgasm!” sex.
We weren't at it for long before I still realized that an orgasm still wasn't happening. The side effects weren't as strong as they had been, but they were still affecting me, even at a low dose. However, I knew that if we had to deal with this issue one more time, my girlfriend would be deeply hurt.
So, I faked an orgasm.
I did a few years of drama club in high school, but when you're playing roles like “Teenager 1” or “Person in Chair,” your acting range isn't exactly tested. And delivering a convincing performance of “Dude Having an Orgasm” would make even Leonardo DiCaprio stress out.
Because, let's face it, an orgasm is a moment when all inhibitions disappear. You're barely in control. You're being, for better or for worse, a totally genuine person in that moment. Faking that isn't easy.
I guess I did a good job, though. I tensed my body up, said something along the lines of “OH NO WAY, OH NO WAY, OH NO WAY,” and then released the tension, making sure to add in a pleased laugh to drive the point home.
Girlfriend: “Did you?”
“Oh… yeah. Wow. Oh, like, so much. That was… uh… that was a good thing, that thing that happened right there.”
Problem was, I had a condom on, and if you orgasm while wearing a condom, there's supposed to be, let's say, “evidence” in there. That meant I had to come up with some excuse for needing to dart in the bathroom right away (not sure what the excuse was, but I am sure it was terrible), so I could get in there before she noticed the empty condom.
Again, I pulled it off. (The fake orgasm, not the condom. Though, yeah, that too.)
I don't regret what I did, because even though my inability to orgasm had made life kind of lame for me, I knew that my girlfriend at the time was also struggling. It made her feel like less of a woman, and I didn't want her to feel that way anymore.
For the past few months, she'd been treating sex like nothing more enjoyable than a mission to make me orgasm. This time, it was my turn to treat sex like a mission.
It was strange, and put me in a position I rarely have to deal with in life. Sex is supposed to be a good time, but it's not that easy to appreciate it when you're worried about giving a convincing performance. After my experience, I really hope women don't have to deal with this on a regular basis. I hope no one does.