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Happy Endings for Everyone

What do you do if your partner is continuously not crossing the finish line in bed? The 4-Way discusses intimacy problems and communicating with your lover.

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Dear 4-Way,
My boyfriend and I have been together for a few years now. Things have been great between us up to this point, but lately he’s stopped climaxing when we have sex. That was never a problem in the past. He’s no quick trigger, but he hasn’t had a problem getting off before. Should I be offended? Eventually he apologizes and just stops going at it. This has been going on for a few weeks and it makes me wonder if he’s taking care of himself too much, has a medical condition, is sleeping with someone else, or just generally isn’t interested. Any words of wisdom? This is new ground for me. —SD, San Francisco, California

The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy
Unless this guy has a strange blue ball fetish—and I’m sure that’s the official medical term—I can’t imagine he’s happy with not finishing what you two started. Is he as concerned about this as you are? What’s his self-diagnosis? This may not be his favorite thing in the world to talk about, but please tell me you’ve asked him about this in a relatively casual way. Something like, “Hey, so what’s going on, baby? No fireworks? Everything okay?”

A few weeks of not crossing the finish line is a bit strange and must be getting frustrating. I wouldn’t classify this as an epidemic yet, though. Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill as they say. (Okay, I don’t know if “they” actually say that, but it sounds like something “they” would say.) Anyway, it wouldn’t hurt—any more than having blue balls would—if he made an appointment with a doctor just to make sure there’s nothing wrong with his personal plumbing. This would be my guess as someone with no medical training whatsoever.

I’m sure it makes you feel less attractive—and that sucks—but I wouldn’t assume he’s seeing someone else or enjoying his alone time so much that he can’t enjoy being with you. He is still aroused and performing to the point where he’s hitting the roadblock, so you must be putting some gas in his tank. (I don’t know if “they” say that, but “they” can use that if “they” want to.)

Good luck and here’s to a happy ending … for both of you.

The gay woman’s perspective: Jodi Freedman
I’m kinda out of my league on this one, but if one of my girlfriends was going through this, I would have the same concerns you have about your guy. I would not be offended. I’m sure the guy feels badly, too. I’d start by talking with him about it. Perhaps there’s something on his mind that’s keeping him from climaxing. Perhaps it’s a medical condition. Perhaps he is two-timing you. All three things are possibilities.

Clearly, the guy needs something to change. It may be how the two of you connect sexually. Can he climax when alone or when looking at pictures, movies, etc? If he can’t and he’s not seeing someone else, then off to the doctor he should go, and pronto. I’m wondering if you’ve noticed other changes in his behavior—sleeping habits, energy level, or general mood. All of this can impact sexual behavior. If he is indeed getting it on with someone else, then it’s time to move his problem off your shoulders and out of your bed. Let him cheat on someone else.

You just won’t know until you begin the conversation. I’m wondering why you haven’t done this already. You’ve been with the guy for several years now. If both of you have gone this long without being able to bring up things that are bothering you, then I would say that your relationship is in trouble. Sure, some couples over-process issues, but this seems like something a couple with experience should be able to talk about together. If you value your connection, your history as a couple, and him, learn to talk to him… and make sure you really listen, too.

The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown
Hmm. This is new ground for me too. Has he been hitting the Jack Daniels bottle before you have sex? I’m guessing not, so there’s probably something else going on. I don’t think you should be offended—the fact that you’re still having sex is a good sign. If he was sleeping with someone else, he’d probably come up with a bunch of excuses not to have sex with you, so it doesn’t sound like the issue is your desirability.

You know that thing that happens when you’re trying to go to sleep but you can’t? The thing where you think about sleeping so much that the worry actually prevents you from falling asleep? That could be happening here. He may be thinking and worrying so hard about actually finishing the job that he just can’t finish. Maybe that’s because of some stress that he hasn’t shared with you. Job changes? Family problems? Money woes? Maybe he’s gained some weight or lost some hair and is self-conscious? It could be anything, so I think you just need to ask if everything’s okay and take it from there.

BUT, (there’s always a “but” isn’t there?) I would say this: it may sound crazy, but not having an orgasm every time you have sex isn’t the worst thing in the world. Everybody gets so focused on that as the final goal, sometimes it just adds a lot of unnecessary pressure. Try just focusing on the intimacy and the fun of it all and see if that takes the pressure off. Oh god, did I really just say that? I’m such a girl.

The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox
First of all, it’s only been a few weeks so don’t be too concerned just yet. But have you asked him as soon as it happens? If not then that’s where you should start.

Communication is key to everything and the timing is vital to help him understand that you aren’t dwelling on the issue as much as trying to understand the situation. I’m sure he’s a little bit embarrassed by it and expects to be asked about it at some point anyway. So go ahead, get it out in the open. But do so cautiously. If you don’t, you’ll be insulting his manhood, and that’s a delicate situation. Maybe he’s stressed at work and it’s causing a distraction at the worst possible moment. Maybe he’s secretly drinking too much, which can make it next to an act of Congress to get off. Medical condition, girlfriend, boyfriend, meddling mother … the list of possibilities could go on for days. Don’t build a situation up in your mind. Talk to him about it and let him know you’re in this together and you’re there to lend a hand if he needs it. Don’t look at this as a bad thing. Instead, consider it an opportunity to grow together by being open with one another.

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