#Love & Sex
Intimacy and Orgasms
by The 4-Way Panel
The 4-way panel of relationship non-experts come together to talk about being open with and getting close to others, sexually and personally.
I am forty-one years old and have never had an orgasm with a man or myself. I do not know how to relax or feel comfortable. The relationships I’ve had have not had any intimacy or closeness at all. I know I cannot blame the relationships, but I need to know how to bring myself to orgasm. So far, I’ve had no success. I really need some advice.—CM, San Francisco, CA
The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
We don’t remind people of this too often, but none of us in the 4-Way is a doctor or a professional therapist—we’re just regular people doling out advice based on our own experiences.
That said, my take on intimacy is that it’s closely related to acceptance. This means accepting people for who they are, warts and all, so that you can get closer to them. And “people” includes yourself, CM. At the risk of sounding too Dr. Phil-ish, you have to learn to love yourself first before you can have a truly intimate relationship with someone else.
I would recommend delving into acceptance on two levels. First, start with yourself. Do some things that will help you feel good about yourself. As cheesy as this sounds, keep a journal of all the good things you like about yourself. If you’re having a hard time coming up with good things, just write down everything nice—personal and professional—that people say to you, friends and strangers alike. With enough feedback, you’ll start to feel comfortable writing down the things you like about yourself. “Hey, I DO have a really nice smile,” or “That WAS really nice of me to help her with the kids.”
Second, work on developing and/or strengthening your relationships with non-romantic, “safe” people: girlfriends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Invite someone to have lunch with you, or write family members or friends a letter telling them what you admire about them. These sound like simple enough things, but I think you need to focus on communication with people that’s above every day chit chat; start small, and make sure you’re a tiny bit outside your comfort zone. That’s why you’re practicing this with safe people.
My hope is that if you do this for a little while, you’ll start to loosen up and see that you’re a fantastic person worth knowing and spending time with. And as a bonus, you’ll be filling your life with different kinds of intimacy and focusing less on only the romantic kind. Now let’s talk about orgasms. Whenever you’re comfortable—maybe after a few weeks of reading all the good things about yourself in your journal—visit Good Vibrations and find yourself something interesting. There’s nothing wrong with a little self-love; it sounds like you just need to feel a little more relaxed and comfortable with yourself before trying it again. Once you do try it, don’t focus so much on the orgasm part for a little while. Think more about what feels good and let getting comfortable with feeling good be your goal instead. After all, sex between two people isn’t always a mind-blowing, orgasm-having slam-dunk; sometimes there’s no happy ending at all. It’s not failure as long as you’re trying and keeping an open, loving mind toward yourself.
The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
First let me say, I cannot imagine how tightly wound you are at this point! I also noticed first thing that you openly admit here that you don’t know how to relax or feel comfortable. Could it be that that is part of the problem? If you don’t feel comfortable with yourself first, then it will undoubtedly be a challenge to feel comfortable enough with someone else to relax and let yourself go. Have the partners in your relationships sensed that as well? I don’t think you should blame yourself for not being able to have an orgasm, just do a little research or ask your doctor for advice on different positions to try out until you get the right one. Yes, that question would be awkward to ask your doctor, but why not? You’re paying for his or her advice after all. Bodies are different and there’s no way of me knowing yours just by reading your question. Just remember, self-exploration is not a bad thing.
The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer
You are truly missing out on the greatest experiences of life, my dear. No, I don’t mean orgasm. I mean experiencing true intimacy or closeness with another human. Intimacy can take many forms, CM. This includes holding a baby in your arms and having her look into your eyes, taking a grandparent’s hand and saying, “I love you,” or simply being held by a dear friend when you feel sad. All of these are intimate moments.
First, I want to encourage you to re-think your idea of intimacy and closeness. I imagine you’ve had experiences like the ones I mentioned. And if you haven’t, they take a front seat to having an orgasm. There are a few areas in life where we must surrender control in order to fully experience something. For example, falling into a deep sleep means giving up control of knowing what’s going on and trusting that you’ll be safe. In my book, orgasm is much the same way. You may want to take a look at how tightly wound up you are and how in control you need to be. I would also suggest speaking with a professional therapist about the lack of intimacy in your life. If you’re longing for that closeness, that means you have the capacity to create it. Put yourself in situations where closeness is within your reach. Start simply. Volunteer at an animal shelter and fall in love with a puppy. It’s never too late to experience intimacy—with yourself and others.
The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy
It’s said that the most powerful sex organ a human being has is the brain. If that’s true, size really doesn’t matter and it IS all about how you use it. I think that’s where you can remedy your issue. You need to change the way you think about yourself. You don’t mention that you have any medical conditions that would prevent you from having an orgasm. (It wouldn’t hurt to have this checked out but I’m pretty sure that if you had any conditions, you’d know about them from your regular exams.)
Since neither you nor your past mates have been able to help you orgasm, I’m guessing you’re not comfortable with yourself. This is a self-esteem issue. Masturbation has been called “self-love” and if that’s the case, it’s no wonder you can’t do it. You need more confidence in yourself before you can give yourself an orgasm. No masturbation technique that I—or probably anyone else—can tell you about will help you think better of yourself. You need to do some things that will help make you feel good about yourself. You deserve this. Whatever your interests may be, pursue them further. Lose weight. Get a new haircut. Buy new clothes. Join a book club. Read fantasy/romance novels and short stories. I’m guessing you don’t get out much and that has to change. By doing that, I think your chances of finding a mate who’s willing to help you in this will be increased as well.
So make it a priority to get out and enjoy life. It will help you get in and enjoy yourself.