Don’t Say You Don’t Have Orgasms.

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As women who have sex with men, it’s sometimes tough to talk about our own experiences because to do so, given our cultural pressure on men to perform, is to emasculate past or present partners. It’s one of the most hurtful or embarrassing things you can say about a man, right? That he can’t “satisfy” a woman?

“There is undeniable pressure on men to “perform” sexually, for example. I try to have sympathy for men who feel this pressure — but it is difficult sometimes, because its major effect on my life has been to silence me. To make me feel as though I couldn’t ask for anything sexually. As though I couldn’t express my needs without hurting my boyfriend’s feelings or making him angry.

And even now, when I talk about this stuff, I am as vague as I possibly can be about the exact timeline. The last thing I want is for people who know me to read this and know exactly when I started having orgasms.” Source: Searching for a Unified Theory of Orgasm: Part Three by @ClarisseThorn — The Good Men Project

So, yeah… Good of Clarisse not to advertise data that might be hurtful to past or current partners.

But as she said, if the pressure for men to “perform” by “giving” women orgasms (and let me pointedly say–climax–the goal-oriented, going-over, quite masculine-defined version of orgasm, vs. the much broader sense of orgasm I prefer: the entire experience of turn-on, the wild ride of pleasure that can happen regardless of attire, touch, or venue), the effect of that pressure – combined with men’s place of power in our culture – is to stifle women’s latitude to speak of their experience.

It’s tough to make it better without naming it.

If a woman intrinsically insults a man by mentioning her own pleasure or satisfaction, and she doesn’t want to insult or hurt him, she can’t really:
– talk to him about their sex
– talk to other people to get their experiences, ideas, or inspiration
– often, even admit to herself that their sex isn’t hitting the spot, because to do so is to complain about (or even denigrate) a man she cares about and doesn’t want to hurt.
But I want to point out two important problems with this whole paradigm:

1. Men don’t make women come.

Orgasm (or climax–take your pick; we’ll hash out the distinctions elsewhere) is a potent and complex brew, the product of a woman’s biochemistry, psychology, state at the moment, practice and habits, relationship, and… admittedly, the skill of whoever’s touching her body and soul at the moment.

Yes, there are men out there who are, as my mentor Nicole Daedone says, “lighting up the power grid one woman at a time” with their sexual skill. And such a man does have the distinct skill of opening erotic doors for women whose hinges have heretofore been a bit rusty. Even for women whose doors swing freely and fluidly, an extraordinarily skilled lover can take her to new wings of the mansion. But those men are seldom the ones the prudent woman will settle down and make babies (or even house payments!) with. Those men thrill at the variety of women they can serve, and their skill set in the erotic realm is often not matched on the emotional, spiritual, and/or logistical fronts.

For every woman who’s never climaxed, there are many others along the spectrum of arousal who climax without genital touch, or even without being touched at all. As one of them (yes, I still blush, knowing my dad has internet access and could read this in the unlikely event he wanted to), I definitely take credit for the emotional, mental, and spiritual skill such surrender to sensation requires. I’m not saying such skill is available to everyone; I’m simply inviting you, dear reader, to take responsibility for your own sensation, if you’re female, and to stop taking it so hard if your favorite woman has not been climaxing when she’s with you, to the extent the two of you would like.

2. Relationships are complicated.

Did I really just need to write that? Guess so. See, in addition to your own body’s responsiveness (or lack thereof,) your own inhibition (or lack thereof,) and your current mindset (I’m guessing you’ve always got one of those), your interest in sex and your experience of thrill and/or satisfaction within it are profoundly affected by the state of the relationship. And in this venue, I’m talking very specifically to people who are, as the magnificent Esther Perel says, “mating in captivity.” You’re in a committed relationship. That means you share a life. Logistics. Finances. Head colds. Flatulence. Empty glasses (sans coasters) on the end table. Last year’s tax return (unfiled) on the mantle. Rude comments, made in a moment of hurt. The hundreds of details that make up a day together are, on balance, almost all detriments to turn-on (the way you’ve probably been living, anyway) and therefore to climax. So let’s not pin it all on the poor dude’s performance, shall we?

My intent with this post is to help create more power, more sense of possibility, between men and women. I want more orgasm, and to have that, we’re gonna have to take the conversation out of the deep freeze. Let me know in the comments how these thoughts open the conversation up for you and your partner. Or follow me on twitter; I’ll follow you back, and then you can send me a direct message only I will see. Or email. I really want to hear.

Love love,



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About Michele Christensen

Michele Lisenbury Christensen believes committed partnership can provide stability + sustainability, spirituality + soulfulness, and sensuality + sensation… all at once. In her writing and relationship revolution services, she marries yoga psychology, brain science, embodied spiritual practice, and her own journey to turned-on marriage and motherhood to help couples build their capacity for smokin’ hot relating. Get LovingWithPower weekly here:


26 Responses to “Don’t Say You Don’t Have Orgasms.”

  1. Rich K says:

    This is an awesome article! Thanks for sharing.

    As a man, I have always wanted more direction/openness from my female partners in the bedroom realm. I understand that it is difficult for some to open up about these things, especially if the possibility of emasculating someone you care about is present.

    I'd like to share a bit of wisdom one of my married friends shared with me at work a few months ago. He basically said, "Men are like dogs. Just tell us what to do and give us a treat and we will do it." And yes, this conversation was all about women having orgasms.

    Peace and love,

  2. Moksha09 says:

    yes Yes Yes YES! This is wonderful! Thank you so much for reminding me. I was unconsciously slipping back into old, socially programmed ways of thinking.
    Think Tootsi when she yells "I am responsible for my own orgasm!'
    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    • Thanks for that, Rich. I LOVE talking O with engaged men (and find there are so so many of you!) – totally: the notion of a "fragile male ego" is condescending and undeserved. Men often labor amid a dearth of information, when just a touch of guidance from a woman would add SO much pleasure for both. Celebrating open communication and awareness of all our sensations!

    • Oops… it double-posted my reply to Rich, including to your comment! What I wanted to say: VIVA Tootsie! And thank you for noting those "old, socially programmed ways of thinking" – I think they're pervasive, sneaky, and realllllly libido-killers. And we just can't live with lies that smoosh our divine delight, now, can we?!

  3. Ruth L says:

    Hey Michele, You go Mama! Love the visual connection to Meg Ryan, and also the response mention of Tootsie quote, two of my most memorable movie references to orgasm.

  4. Karebear says:

    Such a good discussion…after leaving a 14 year marriage, 2 kids and all the domestic rather perfectly balanced, I had no sexual interest in my husband. I am now in a new relationship and the communication, trust and experimentation with sex is so different. this man brings out a totally different dynamic in myself that i never experienced with my previous relationship. It is amazing where I have gone already just with being with someone who is open to this sacred space.

  5. […] read an article today from the Elephant Journal that mentions the taboo of a woman telling a man he fails to sexually satisfy her. In the article […]

  6. inbedwith says:

    –Those men thrill at the variety of women they can serve, and their skill set in the erotic realm is often not matched on the emotional, spiritual, and/or logistical fronts.

    Ah so very true.

    And you are the second person to recommend Mating in Captivity. Must find at once.
    Okay, going to follow you on Twitter now.

  7. […] progressive rockstars like you and me. It’s just human. But it makes our relationships vulnerable in the long run. And less luscious, every […]

  8. honeyryder512 says:

    Lovely article, thank you. I agree whole-heartedly that ultimately I am responsible for my own pleasure. Thankfully I learned that fairly young and have been exploring that truth in all its iterations and evolution with a wide variety of partners over the years. I highly recommend reading The Erotic Mind by Jack Morin.

  9. […] not quite. It’s another typical day in the world of a woman whose orgasm is out of alignment (to clarify, when I say “orgasm,”I don’t mean sexual climax, but the electrical […]

  10. […] 2. Writing and Speaking. I love to think and speak and write. It is one of the things that most defines who I am, and when it’s going well, yup, I get horny. My thoughts and words are swirling through me, touching all of my internal nooks and crannies, letting loose all my juices and, yup, I get all sexual. Just like that. […]

  11. Dr. Betty Dodson has been talking about women and orgasms for centuries–and that has always been her message as well-we have to take responsibility for our own orgasms. I love what you say about how much women sacrifice in this sexual dynamic. Learning to be more open about sex, regardless of your relationship status, is so empowering for a woman. And for men too I think–when we shift from blame to finding creative ways, together, to enhance the sexual experience.

  12. Alex says:

    Great article! Sex has always been such a disappointment to me. Most men have no clue that forplay is very important to women. And if you do try to talk to them about it, they either pass it off as a passing fancy, or just don't get it. I broke up with my last boyfriend because I was so unfulfilled! Forplay? Ha! I tried to talk to him, encourage him to play & explore my body. Nothing. His remedy to get me wet was to spit on his hand, wipe it on my vagina, stick it in & hammer away. I'm ashamed I put up with that for 10 months. I learned. I won't allow hat to ever happen again.

  13. Johanna says:

    I am a lucky girl. My relationship is very honest and I feel like I can say anything even guide him to make sure we are both being satisfied.

  14. paul says:

    Thank you for writing so candidly about such a sensitive topic and I wholeheartedly agree with your points. I can only speak from my own perspective and experience as a man. There are tremendous expectations that our society (and media) places on sex and most are unrealistic ard unhealthy.

    We, as men, choose to derive our self-worth from our ability (or inability) to “make”our partner climax. I subscribed to this erroneous approach for many years until I learned to think from a different perspective and consequently I was able to change the way I related to my partner.

    Your post hits the nail on the head when you suggest that open, relaxed and honest communication about our sexual likes, dislikes, wants and needs develops a trust between partners that far exceeds hot sex. It creates a satisfying intimacy that lasts. I say this from experience as my wife and I have been married for over 30 years but the first 20 we’re nowhere near as satisfying as the last 10. The tipping point was our communication and our willingness to grow.

  15. usagi says:

    lucky you, orgasming without touch.

    ive been trying to figure out how to get off at all for ten years now and i don't really feel any closer then when i started.

  16. hazeleyes says:

    i am open to admit that i dont orgasms.I've never had one and my number of partners is double digit. i found i have just accepted it (lame i know at 28) and get more satisfaction that the male is happy. gotta luv it when the male says but that trick worked on xyz.. thats nice lol… even self play.. get a small tingle n then im bored.

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