KISS & TELL
I love my boyfriend, but I wonder if I could be happier with someone else. Normal, or a sign I should date around? —Macaile
Totally normal. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that if your guy is averagelooking, you’d be happier with someone who resembles Bradley Cooper. However, if your boyfriend doesn’t have something you need, rather than want, like similar values or long-term goals, then you should keep looking. That said, don’t throw away a good thing searching for Mr. Perfect if you’re already with Mr. Perfect for You.
Is it shallow to expect my once-fit husband to stay in shape? He’s become a couch potato! —Laura
Q You have the right to expect your spouse to stay in shape—marriage no longer means letting yourself go. Inspire him by suggesting some fun things he can do with you, like taking a boxing class or simply jogging through your neighborhood. Even if he doesn’t join you right away, your fit body and healthy lifestyle may encourage him. He’ll be reminded of all the positive benefits of an active lifestyle, including increased energy and improved mood.
The Big Os are elusive. Most women don’t have one every time (or maybe even most times) they hit the sheets. Plenty of surveys—and likely your own bedroom experience—verify that. But that doesn’t mean a romp without the grand finale is an exercise in futility. Far from it.
In fact, on the occasions when you know you aren’t going to climax or when you’re just not motivated enough to strive for it, there are ways to simply enjoy the valleys without hitting the peak. Lots of women are discovering that it’s smart to appreciate intimacy for more than only the last 10 seconds. So go ahead, don’t get off—and love every minute of it.
Why Orgasms Go MIA
“For me to climax, I have to be feeling it before foreplay even starts,” says Jamie,* 27, a newlywed. “I have to put in a lot of effort, and the stars have to align. But I feel satisfied knowing that my husband is satisfied every time.” It’s a situation that many women can relate to, and one backed by stats. According to research, women in relationships orgasm about 80 percent as often as men in relationships (for women in casual hookup situations, it’s closer to 50 percent as often).
Researchers have coined this discrepancy “the orgasm gap” and have determined a few key factors for its existence. You probably don’t need science to tell you that climaxing is tougher without clitoral stimulation,
but you may not realise that overstimulation or the wrong kind of stimulation of your central nervous system, which controls sexual excitement and inhibition, is an orgasm killer. Stress or a poorly timed “Wait, why is the cat staring at us like that?” observation is all it takes to cause overstimulation—at least for women. (And speaking of stress: “Worrying about whether or not an orgasm will happen can activate your stress response, which can make you feel less turned on,” says Emily Nagoski, PHD, a sex educator in Massachusetts.) Guys were blessed with evolutionaided blinders that make the cat (or annoying email pings, a weird humming sound, whatever) nonfactors in the moment. “Men had to orgasm for the good of the species,” says Laura Berman, PHD, author of The Passion Prescription. “That means their brains are primed to tune out all distractions. Women’s aren’t.” (How come evolution is never on our side?)
How to Enjoy the Ride
What isn’t reflected in these stats is the enjoyment some women derive just from the experience of having intercourse. “I rarely orgasm, and I don’t care,” says Jenna,* 29. “I’m on antianxiety medication, and while it has definitely affected my ability to climax, it hasn’t affected how much I enjoy sex.”
That’s not to say you should actively deny yourself an O —that would be like stifling a sneeze, but worse—and if you’ve never had one and you want to have one, that’s something you should discuss with your partner, says Debby Herbenick, PHD, author of Because It Feels Good.
But putting midact pressure on yourself every time could mean that you’re missing out on pleasure in the moment. “Research shows that women can climb between sexualdesire stages, from excitement to plateau to orgasm, then back to excitement,” says Berman. Focus too much on the end point and you’ll end up brushing past the pleasing plateau. (Although it may sound flat, the plateau is actually when arousal is at its peak and your body is savoring your partner’s touch the most—a pretty sweet place to linger.)
Play Close to the Edge
The key to a nogasm experience that’s anything but “eh” is to amp up your arousal early and stay there as long as possible. You’ll know when you’re there by the text test: If your phone buzzed, you’d be more annoyed by the interruption than curious who it was, says Dr Stephen Snyder, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Heed these tips to enter a heightened state.
1Hit the shower.
Getting wet and sudsy helps you find erogenous zones you may not have realised you had. Ask your guy to rub down your back and shoulders with a sponge, then have him switch to his bare hands. “The different sensations of the water and the body wash, plus the anticipation of his hands on your skin after the sponge, will all add to your pleasure,” says Morse.
2Show off. “Part of a woman’s pleasure during sex comes from feeling desired,” says Snyder. Or put on a solo show: Watching him watch you provides an awesome view of how much he wants you.
3Rewind… and ratchet
up. If he has already climaxed, go back to the stuff you love during foreplay, only take it up a notch by playing with hot and cold sensations. “When you’re turned on, your brain is open to new experiences, so situations that might have made you selfconscious when you weren’t aroused can be extremely sexy,” says Nagoski. If you start getting restless or if the friction begins to veer more toward “ouch” than “OMG,” have him give you a back rub or massage to transition toward ending the action so you don’t feel like you stopped abruptly.
4That outdoor element.
Have the windows open or get it on in the backyard under a blanket. The novelty can make it hard to concentrate on the climax… but that’s because your brain is paying attention to the wecouldbecaughtatanymoment thrill, which adds intensity to the encounter, says Morse. *Names have been changed.
It’s the way I’m wired. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. Tell him directly it’s no big deal. Reassure him that you had a good time— orgasm or not. You were great! Be specific so he doesn’t think you’re just being nice. I really liked when you did [ blank].