Wake Up or
Break Up

When Your Partner Has Trouble Reaching a Climax

One of the great mysteries of life is why some people find it so easy to reach orgasm while others find it so difficult. Several decades ago there were psychoanalysts who arrogantly insisted that the slow-to-climax partner was "frigid." Thankfully, most therapists today know a lot more about the diversity of human sexual response and very few professionals today would ever use the inaccurate and insulting word "frigid."

So what's the deal? Why is it that with one partner you can engage in several minutes of oral sex or intercourse which leads to an explosion and heartfelt thanks, while with another partner you can perform the exact same quantity and quality of oral sex or intercourse and the response might be, "Why are you slowing down? I'm barely getting started here?"

As a couples counselor for the past 23 years, I've found that a huge number of couples suffer a lot of guilt, arguing, frustration, and emotional distance as a result of the mysteries of the human orgasm. In order to resolve these common dilemmas or even prevent a break-up with your partner, a few topics from my new book, need to be discussed ahead of time. For example, on a nice day off when you and your partner are taking a walk, or you are having breakfast or dinner together, it might be a good idea to bring out your sense of humor and talk about "The Mystery of the Big O." It's a lot more fun than watching golf or poker on television and can generate some extremely important breakthroughs in your sex life. Here are some questions you can discuss with each other in an open and non-defensive way:

-- What do you know already from your own experience are the best ways to shut down or ruin an almost-orgasm? This humorous and insightful conversation topic can be a crack-up for both of you. Is it the sound of your kids running down the hall and pounding on the bedroom door that takes your body from bliss to terror? Is it when your partner mentions a certain upsetting topic or difficult person that brings you crashing back to reality? Is it when one of you says something critical or gives some advice to the other person? Is it when you feel rushed or pressured by an impatient partner who seems to be saying or implying, "What the heck is taking you so long?" Is it when the physical sensations are happening too fast or too slow? Is it when your partner seems to be losing interest in your responses because he or she is focused completely on his or her own orgasm? Having an informative and helpful talk about what interrupts intimacy and orgasms can be a terrific starting place for the revival of your closeness as a couple. Especially if you talk to one another as caring teammates, rather than as competitors or rivals, you will find this exploration of the "Mysteries of the Big O" to be a wonderful chance to get to know some of each other's most private thoughts.

--What do you know from direct experience or from your own readings on the subject that might be the missing link for you between a difficult search for the big O versus a beautiful journey to the land of release? It's been stated by various researchers that somewhere between 60-80% of women either prefer or absolutely need oral stimulation in order to have an orgasm. It has nothing to do with being frigid and in fact it's quite normal for a woman to find it much easier to reach orgasm from oral sex than from even the most prolonged and well-positioned intercourse. In fact, in most surveys and in one-on-one counseling sessions, the majority of women admit that they find a favorite vibrator, a well-choreographed set of fingers, a very-talented tongue, the flow of a bathtub faucet, or some other well-traveled path to be much more likely to lead to an orgasm than intercourse. Many women are afraid or embarrassed to admit that they are in the 60-80% of women who don't prefer intercourse as their favorite route to orgasm. But it's the truth and if you want to have a more successful sex life you might as well start with the truth. At the same time, there are many men who find their best orgasms arrive as a result of certain exciting extras that they might be shy or unwilling to communicate to their partner. It might be a specific finger-pressure on the sensitive area behind the testicles. Or a secret spot at the opening of the anus (but only if his partner is comfortable and careful with this delicate opening). Or it might be a certain way of stroking the penis by hand or through oral sex. Or it might be some other wonderful series of actions that take him over the moon if only he would let his partner know the secret.

--Please don't judge or criticize each other for having extremely different methods or lengths of time that you need in order to fully open up and reach your best orgasms. If you were to interview a few thousand individuals about exactly what they enjoy and what they don't enjoy when they are making love, you will be amazed at the diversity and uniqueness of each individual. Not only that, but you will find in most cases what feels great one day for a person might not feel so great on a different day for the same individual. That's why you and your partner should be extremely patient and compassionate with each other as you keep discovering new insights into the complexity and uniqueness of each other's sexual responses. It doesn't matter if your current beloved is different or more complicated than someone else you've been with before. All that matters is that the two of you find exquisite ways to deepen your love and intimacy without judging, mistreating, or disrespecting one another.

--Be willing to admit to each other what you worry about regarding your orgasms. Some individuals diminish their own enjoyment of sex because they are afraid they are too loud or too soft when they have an orgasm. Many fear that they are taking too long or that they are not taking long enough to reach orgasm. Others fear they are not as dramatic or extensive in their orgasms as what they've seen in porn films or heard from the boasting of others. Still others worry about whether they have an odor, a secretion, an unusual spasm, or emit strange sounds when they are fully engaged in having an orgasm. Each of these partners will need reassurance from a caring and non-judgmental partner who explains what a precious gift it is to share all the diverse aspects of who we are with someone who treasures us and respects us fully.

--Design with your partner a choreography or a turn-taking sequence that maximizes what you know about yourself and the other person. For example, if you know that you have a habit of ejaculating too quickly if you are having intense intercourse, you and your partner can design various ways to stop when you start to get too close to the edge. You and your partner will want to read up on the squeeze technique, the Kegel muscle exercises, and the Tantric breathing methods that are described in various sex books on how to stop an ejaculation that might be quicker than you'd prefer. Or you might want to design a turn-taking sequence that allows one partner to orgasm from oral sex first and doesn't require the other partner to last as long during intercourse. Or you might want to have a humorous phrase you can say to your partner if you are getting too close to an ejaculation and you want support in lasting longer, something like "Time to breathe or this might be over too

soon'' or "Whoa darlin' we gotta cool down this engine or it's gonna explode." Instead of feeling insecure or remaining silent about the complexities of orgasm, this kind of teamwork and mutual caring can deepen your sense of intimacy and playfulness.

--Also be willing to have a conversation about when it’s o.k. to not have an orgasm with each other. Many couples find that the pressure to have an orgasm each and every time becomes an impediment to intimacy and spontaneity. What if you consciously decided every so often to kiss, touch, caress, and roll around together lovingly without any orgasms being allowed. The delicious tension build-up and the wonderful physical sensations will surprise you! Or what if you made a shared decision to interrupt your oral explorations or even to interrupt intercourse in order to slow down and breathe in deeply the turned-on feelings that would otherwise be dispersed by an orgasm. Like Faith Hill says in her song, "Just breathe!" Instead of rushing to orgasm, you can deepen your intimacy by looking into each other's eyes or holding each other tenderly while the heat and the excitement is still pulsing through your body.

--Be honest with each other about when one of you feels like working hard toward an orgasm while the other partner feels like taking it easy. Especially on nights or mornings when one of you is feeling very energetic and the other partner is tired or stressed, you can take turns being the one who does the heavy lifting and the one who takes a more passive or relaxed role.

For many couples who grew up thinking "We must have simultaneous and equally intense orgasms or else," this ability to respect the different levels of energy you both are feeling on any given day or night will be a nice change of pace. The partner who wants to exert a lot of energy can volunteer to be "the hard worker tonight," or to masturbate solo with the other person nearby or snuggling closely. This allows the less-energized partner to enjoy your excitement vicariously "while I just relax here and do a lot less exertion." Clearly, there needs to be some balance where every few days or weeks you switch roles - the hard working partner gets to relax and be passive, while the often-tired partner gets to show some passion and exertion every so often as well.

--Treat each orgasm not as an obligation, but rather as one of many wonderful moments on the journey of connecting as lovers. When two partners start to enjoy every delicious moment of rolling around together or exploring each other's highly-sensitive bodies, the quest for orgasm becomes less of a burden. For most couples who become less orgasm-obsessed, a new and much deeper level of intimacy emerges. I have learned from couples in my office who described to me,

"There's such a beautiful sense of trust and closeness that occurs when we simply enjoy each other" aliveness and we don't pressure ourselves or the other person to have the ultimate orgasm each and every time." Others have described it as "A chance to enjoy the entire process of lovemaking and if the orgasms happen, that's even more of a treat."

©2008, Leonard Felder

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Leonard Felder is a licensed psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles. As a popular lecturer and recognized expert on how to improve personal relationships, his books have sold more than 1 million copies. His latest book is Wake Up or Break Up: The 8 Crucial Steps to Strengthening Your Relationship He has appeared on more than 200 teleivsion and radio programs, including Oprah, The Today Show, The Early Show, CNN, AM Canada, NPR, and ABC Talkradio. He and his wife, Linda, have been together since 1980, and they hare the parents of a 12-year-old son, Steven. E-Mail or www.wakeuporbreakup.com

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