Sahar*, 29, who works in marketing and is straight, explains why it doesn't matter that she doesn't orgasm with her boyfriend.
Despite having my first boyfriend at 17, I didn't have my first orgasm until I was 22. With my first, it was a super romantic relationship and we stayed together until half-way through college. There was a lot of joy in our relationship. Because of that, it's kind of embedded in me that orgasm is not an essential part of sex.
With my current partner of nine months, I only orgasm about once a week. Honestly, it bothered me in the beginning. Not because I wasn't coming, but because I read that as him not caring that I wasn't. He had been trying to make me come through penetration and would keep going for ages. Sometimes I'd fake it. It wasn't at all that he was bad at sex, it's just really hard for me to come that way. I brought it up after the fifth time we slept together. He took my feedback on board and changed the way he approached sex. I felt really cared for and listened to after that.
If I'm masturbating, I can come in a couple of minutes. With someone else, it's never taken less than 15 minutes—and often much longer (if I do at all). There are so many reasons why I don't orgasm very often with him and why I haven't with previous partners.
With some guys, it's definitely that they don't know what they're doing. With others, I can't get out of my head, or there's performance pressure and I can't relax enough to come. There can also be time constraints, and it does always take ages with a partner because I need whatever movement's happening to stay consistent and not change, or I'll lose the momentum. My boyfriend works really long hours in a stressful job, so I'm always super aware when he needs to get up early in the morning, or has a deadline, or that his email could notify at any time. I don't always feel comfortable taking the time that I know I need to finish.
Orgasms are great, but having that deep connection with someone is better.
While orgasms are great, having that deep connection with someone is better. Sex is only a small aspect of a relationship. I don't come a lot, but the other things my boyfriend brings to the table make up for it. I feel valued, cared for and respected. Sex can also be ridiculously sexy without an orgasm. Whether I come or not doesn't bear relation to the amount of pleasure I feel.
Have you ever been surfing? For me, orgasming is kind of like that moment when you catch a wave. You have to be aligned right beforehand, and there's a moment where you know you're either going to ride it to shore or it's going to slide past you and you need to wait for the next wave to lift you up. But whether you catch it or not, it's still glorious to be in that ocean.
Many of my most pleasurable experiences haven't involved an orgasm. My boyfriend finishing inside me feels like a huge release. I get so much pleasure just from lying close to him, still, with his skin on mine. It's why I enjoy sex more with him than previous partners—because the sex we have is a million miles more meaningful.
Relationships in our 20s are often too focused on sex. For me, even if a relationship isn't going anywhere serious, I don't just want to spend time in bed with partners—I want to do other things with them like going for walks, watching films, and traveling, because I want to know that I'm valued as a person. I want them to be curious about who I am on a deeper level.
I'd like people to stop perpetuating the myth that female orgasms are elusive and mysterious.
As a woman, I feel immense pressure to orgasm. It can feel like yet another way that women need to cater to male egos—and I'm aware that I sometimes do exactly this by faking it, but I adore my boyfriend, and I want him to feel good about himself. I don't really feel a lot of external pressure, so it's hard to tell where exactly this internalized pressure comes from.
I would really like it if the narrative around sex and orgasms changed. As a society, the way we think about straight sex is super phallocentric [centring the penis], and men don't seem to understand that fingering and clit stimulation is often necessary. While I don't *need* an orgasm to have good sex, I'd like people to stop perpetuating the myth that female orgasms are elusive and mysterious.
In casual sex situations, I think it's wildly uncool for a guy not to try to make their partner orgasm—and to do that, they need to communicate, ask questions, and be sensitive to body language. So many guys just think they know better than girls, or that there's some kind of "hack" to being good in bed... and that is when sex is bad.
*Name has been changed
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com/uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.