In every sex scene in every movie I've ever seen, the couple in question is pictured climaxing after about three seconds and a few haphazard thrusts. And while some people may very well be able to finish without much time or effort, it's totally OK to need a little more TLC in order to reach the big O. And if you have a hard time orgasming with your partner, you're totally not alone.
"People of all genders struggle to orgasm with partners; it is common, 'normal,' and nothing to be ashamed of," Brianne McGuire, host of the Sex Communication podcast, tells Elite Daily. "Orgasm does not equal 'success' and pleasure can be experienced without climax." As McGuire shares, while an orgasm can be a special part of sex, it's certainly not the "goal" or the only reason to get it on. Sex can be a way to connect with your partner, to destress, and to simply have fun — with or without an orgasm.
For Lindsay Wynn, vaginal health and wellness expert and founder of vaginal care line Momotaro Apotheca, changing the way you think about sex can be super empowering. "We place importance on aspects of sex that are often unrealistic and even unenjoyable to some," Wynn tells Elite Daily. "Sex is not an act; it’s an experience. Listen to your body and what feels good."
Though you and your boo may be down for an early 2000s rom-com role-play situation, your sex life doesn't have to mimic what you see in the media. If you don't really care about orgasming, aren't into penetration, or prefer to practice safe sex in whatever ways feel good for you, you don't need to feel pressure to do anything differently. As long as what you're doing is consensual and pleasurable to you, it doesn't have to look, sound, or act a certain way. "Sex is whatever you dream sex to be," Wyn says. "Be aware, be honest, and be open."
Do you remember the time you learned how to shoot a basketball or ride a bike and the minute you asked your parents to watch you, you couldn't do it anymore? That's what sex can feel like sometimes. While intimacy can be a beautiful way to connect with someone, McGuire shares that it can also come with an added pressure to perform in front of your partner.
"There is so much weight placed upon orgasm as an indication of success, that it can drive the climax away," McGuire says. "Sexual pleasure is not just physical; it is mental — stimulating the body does not necessarily mean the rest will follow."
As McGuire shares, feeling stressed about not orgasming may be hindering you from orgasming. Though it may feel hard in the moment, taking a moment to really connect with your body and your partner may help you feel less in your head. McGuire adds that emotional factors like trust, arousal, and comfort can also be common factors in being able to orgasm with someone. If you need to slow down, or you want to talk to your partner about where their head is at. Getting on the same emotional page may help you cross the sexy finish line.
"Orgasm isn’t the benchmark of great sex. The goal is to have an enjoyable and pleasurable encounter with your partner," Dr. Christopher Ryan Jones, sex and relationships therapist tells Elite Daily. "A lot of times, couples are so focused on the orgasm that the rest of the experience isn’t thought about or considered." As all the experts share, adopting a more open understanding of sex (i.e., not just focusing on orgasms), you and your partner can feel less stressed about finishing, and just enjoy the moment. "By adopting this perspective on sex, it takes the focus off of orgasm, which greatly reduces performance anxiety and allows the partners to enjoy the sexual experience much more (and many times have less trouble achieving orgasm)," Dr. Jones says.
In addition to centering yourself and talking with your partner, Wynn shares that paying attention to your environment can be a great way to center yourself during sex. Whether you light your favorite candle or set up all your pillows in the perfect way, ensuring your comfort can help you be in the moment.
Wynn shares that if you feel comfortable and secure in your environment, and you're still unable to finish, communication is key. "Sometimes you just can’t 'get there,' and that’s OK," Wynn says. "There are a few questions you can ask yourself and a partner: Are you still enjoying the experience? Are you asking for what you want or like? Do you know what you like?"
As Wynn shares, if everyone is enjoying themselves, it can be helpful to forget about orgasming and just go with the sexy flow. "Enjoy the moment," Wynn says. "Oftentimes, changing the narrative will allow you to relax and enjoy more, maybe even resulting in orgasm." Additionally, if you know you like it when your partner pulls your hair, or you're ready to go on top, asking for what you want or expressing your desires may send you over the edge as well. "If you like or dislike something, be vocal," Wynn says. "It will give agency to your partner to do the same."
Of course, you may not really know what you want or what makes you feel good, and in the heat of the moment, it can be hard to figure it out. Wynn suggests masturbating (both by yourself and with your partner) as well as trying different toys or engaging with ethical, sexy media.
Wynn and McGuire both share that turning your focus onto making your partner feel good may calm you down as well. "Instead of struggling to orgasm, stop trying for it all together and focus on developing an intimate connection with your partner instead," McGuire says. "Focus on your partner’s pleasure; it will not only inspire your own pleasure, but it will also distract the mind from performance anxiety."
Although orgasm can be a wonderful part of having sex, it doesn't have to be the grand finale. "Orgasm is not the end-all, be-all of sex; the experience of connection, intimacy and/or physical pleasure is sex all on its own," McGuire says. Whether you and your boo talk about what turns you on or you experiment with different toys or positions, sex is fundamentally about growing together and enjoying the moment.
But if you're excited to learn more about your body or orgasm is something you'd like to experience, ensuring a comfortable environment, centering your mind, and communicating with your boo may help you reach your peak between the sheets.
Dr. Christopher Ryan Jones, relationship and sex therapist