Over a year ago I wrote an essay entitled Exploring Good Sex about how it is absolutely possible to have bad sex when you cum every time and the various elements that determine how much I enjoy a sexual experience. I got some amazing feedback from people who really connected with the piece and it pushed me to further examine the factors that make sex good.
Two things I’ve noticed after another year of tinder hookups, ongoing fuck pal situations and long-term relationship sex – particularly with cis dudes – are that:
1. I am rarely the one who determines when sex ends
2. When sex does end I often fail to communicate to my partner that I need more and it doesn’t feel great
I obviously can only speak from my own experience but in general, most people I have sex with have generally got the “make a woman cum for once” thing down. My track record is obviously assisted by the fact that I can cum if I sit in the wrong spot on public transit, but even before that becomes apparent, generally my sexual partners are also enthusiastic about my pleasure.
In ‘Exploring Good Sex’ I wrote: “Nothing can bring me crashing down harder after a great session than someone who disconnects as soon as we’re done” and that’s still very true, but the more I think about it, often “we’re done” equals “they’re done” and I’m pretty over it.
The truth is the good sex mantra of “make sure she cums” goes out the window when you’re hyperorgasmic. For many people, particularly cis men, an orgasm comes with a sense of completion and even sometimes a degree of sex-repulsion – but I am definitely not one of them. If that was true for me, sex would rarely last more than a minute! I’ve had lovers refer to me as “insatiable” and look, occasionally they’re right and I just want to go and go and go; but more often than not it’s that I’m seeking satisfaction in something other than an orgasm.
But if cumming doesn’t make sex feel ‘done’, what does?
For me, an orgasm isn’t an end. It’s an escalation of the physical and a deepening of the psychoemotional. The more orgasms I have the higher my levels of physical and psychological arousal get, this makes it even more important that I feel grounded before things wrap up to avoid a hard crash.
It’s been hard to pin down what makes me feel ‘done’: sometimes things line up and I’m ready to finish when my partner does, other times I’m ready to clock out before them and will shift my focus more to their needs, but a lot of the time I’m left itching for even a little bit more. After some deep sex-nerdy analysis of recent experiences, my sense of release comes from the realisation of intention.
I know ‘realisation of intention’ sounds like some real sex hippy shit, but intention is so important to me in all aspects of my sex life. This doesn’t mean I’m starting every tinder hook up with a ritual circle or smudge stick, but it does mean that I am going into all my sexual experiences with an idea of what and how I want to feel. This can be anything from fulfilling a need for sensual touch, connecting to a particular sexual archetype, embracing a specific connection to the other person, getting my spanking fix or finding catharsis.
Now knowing this is all well and good, but most people have enough trouble working out if their partner has cum, let alone determining how actualised their intention is. The typical ‘sex positive’ answer to this would be clear and explicit communication both before and after play and I definitely use that a lot of the time, especially around kink activities. But honestly, sometimes I don’t want to try and sandwich an intention setting session in-between “your place or mine?” and “so when were you last tested?”
The second and more useful response would be to be a more effective self-advocate. In theory, as a sexually empowered young woman, it shouldn’t be that much of a challenge to ask for what I need, especially as someone who is very comfortable doing so during sex. Unfortunately, it isn’t really that simple, especially when I’m with a dude.
I’m aware that a lot of cis men are “done when they’re done” – their headspace and priorities shift and there can even be a sense of aversion post-orgasm. This is reflected in their demeanour, behaviour and body language, even if they’re still holding me and basking in the afterglow. As someone who has a lot of trauma around feeling obligated to sexually engage with people, I am super uncomfortable asking someone who’s clearly not in a sexual headspace to continue to be sexual with me.
I don’t ask for a lot of reasons.
Primarily I don’t want to make people feel obligated or manipulated, but beyond that, I often feel greedy – like its wrong for me to need more when I’ve already had so much. I also have the very human fear of rejection which feels insurmountable when I’m already anxious about asking in the first place. It becomes easier to convince myself it’s more trouble than it’s worth and just wait for the discomfort of unfulfillment to pass.
But the more it happens the more I notice it.
When my intentions aren’t fulfilled (aka my needs aren’t met) I can feel raw, vulnerable, unfinished, self-conscious, dismissed, “used” or rushed and this can really tarnish an otherwise wonderful sexual experience.
Sometimes I need them to make me cum again
Sometimes I need to feel comfortable enough to make myself cum again
Sometimes I just need a specific kind of touch to bring me down
Sometimes I need actual aftercare
Sometimes I need affection or some sense of closure
Sometimes I need someone to hold space for me
Sometimes I don’t – but the thing I’ve noticed is that I’m never asked.
While it is super important to address the orgasm gap, when the only acceptable goal of sex is to cum, I’m left behind. That “sex positive” mantra of “make sure she cums too” means my orgasm becomes a checkbox.
A good example is an old boyfriend would rarely last more than a minute or two during penetration – more than enough time to make me cum two or three times but never enough to leave me feeling satisfied. His previous female partners had almost never cum during penetration so he took my orgasm as a marker of success, even after I explained my low orgasm threshold.
Unsurprisingly, we only dated for seven weeks.
I absolutely trust that 98% of the time, I’m not left hanging out of selfishness or malice, but the assumption that things end when (usually) he does is patriarchal and can really break down the connection and synergy of great sex.
So what does all this mean?
I think two things that need to happen:
- I need to work on asking.
My partners aren’t mind-readers and it’s unfair to resent them for not addressing an issue they don’t know exists. The few times I have asked it’s usually fine – though a handful of apathetic dismissals have definitely made it harder to bring it up.
I need to explain why it’s important (or maybe just send them this blog post) and hope they’re receptive. I also need to be prepared for when someone says no, because even after all I’ve said, no one is obligated to engage in sexual activity when they don’t want to.
- People – particularly cis men – need to be more aware of their partners after climax. This looks like reading body language, asking if there’s anything else the other person needs and being mindful of their own post-coital behaviours and actions (it’s hard to tell someone you need to cum again when they’re already asking you what episode of Brooklyn 99 you want to watch.)
This second instalment has definitely focused more on a more specific personal issue for me than the original but I feel like the concept still has universal relevance. “She Cums First” is a good starting point but it oversimplifies what is an undeniably complex and deeply personal issue, it still centres male orgasm. Whether you cum once or thirty-five times – or not at all – allowing male ejaculation to determine the default parameters of sexual play undercuts all our efforts to achieve sexual equality.