Goals are great to have in many aspects of our life: how do we know where we’re going if we don’t have a destination in mind? I’m a firm believer in setting goals, including for our sexual health and pleasure, in order to maximize our satisfaction and minimize our chances of regret. So many of us settle for mediocre sex and connections because we don’t value our own desires and pleasure—or we believe that our partners don’t care when really they maybe just don’t understand. Or we decide that it is too much effort with too little payoff or too unrealistic to ask for incredible pleasure.
It all may seem like a lot, especially given everything that’s happening in the world, but a great erotic connection doesn’t actually require a lot more effort than you’re already putting in now. Plus, it can lead to not only better sex, but better connections overall, and better sexual health. After all, partners who play together stay together!
I speak to a lot of people—especially people with vaginas and vulvas—who ask me about how to achieve orgasms during intercourse, ejaculatory orgasms, or simultaneous orgasms. They claim that sex is awesome—lots of pleasure all around and everyone’s satisfied with lots of orgasms—but something feels off.
I hear things like sex is not happening as it happens in porn and in Hollywood, where penetrative intercourse is the be-all, end-all of having orgasms. Using sex toys, especially vibrators, is not perceived as “real” sex. Adding clitoral stimulation somehow seems like cheating and no longer a "real" orgasm, suggesting that one or both people involved are deficient in some way.
And, arguably, in this version of reality we’re presented with, “female ejaculation” or “squirting” is perceived as evidence of both partners' ultimate skills or desire for one another. To top it all off, everyone is expected to climax simultaneously. And then there is people's dissatisfaction with their bodies. Or that there must be something wrong with their equipment or their interest in their partner or their partner's sexiness and skill if erections do not happen on command and for as long as porn portrays through careful editing.
Arguably, are these the goals we should be aiming for? Are these goals good for our sexual health?
First of all, let's challenge these expectations:
- 70% of folks with vaginas need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm. If anything, adding a vibrator or finger stimulation to the clitoris enhances the intimacy rather than detracting from it.
- Only approximately 15% of folks with vaginas are able to ejaculate—sometimes during orgasm, sometimes not, and sometimes with the help of sex toys.
- Simultaneous orgasms are largely coincidence.
- There’s no ideal length of time for an erection to last! Pleasure and intimacy are different for different people, and it can all still be experienced without an erection. In fact, a lot of partners complain when erections last too long.
Arguably, sex is a lot more fun, and it’s a lot better for your sexual health when you start to explore with a partner and break away from the rigid definition of what “good sex” looks like and feels like.
What’s most sexy in a partner is confidence and authenticity, and no amount of surgery can match those qualities. Even if someone's confidence is enhanced through surgery, it can set a precedent, and it might only be a matter of time before they find another flaw and feel unsexy again.
Back to Basics: Why Have Sex?
First, let’s take a step back to reflect on our reasons for having sex. And there’s lots of them: sometimes it’s for sheer pleasure, for connection, intimacy, a way to express love for each other, stress relief, procreation, a mixture of all of the above, or a myriad other reasons.
And when you really sit down and reflect upon your reasons for having sex, that’s when you can start to dismantle toxic “goals” involved in sex. If pleasure and connection are your purposes, does it really matter whether or not you feel pleasure in the narrow way the latest issue of Cosmo says is the ultimate? You know your body better than someone writing in a magazine, after all! As long as you feel connected and satisfied, what difference does it make how you got there? Don’t be afraid to ask yourself, and challenge yourself, in questioning whether sex toys, kink items, and so on, really help invigorate your sex life rather than take away from it.
Beyond the Big O
Any pressure to achieve a specific goal while you’re trying to relax makes it less likely that an orgasm will happen and will most certainly take away from simply enjoying the moment. And not to mention, sex doesn’t need to always be about having an orgasm.
Think of it like this: It’s like being so excited about having a chocolate truffle that you swallow it quickly without actually savouring the taste. Moreover, pressure sometimes leads us to lie about our experience in order to save face or not have to deal with our partner's disappointment. Be realistic and value your goals, and communicate them!. This is what good, and, well, healthy, sexual health looks like. And what’s most important isn’t your number of orgasms or a certain “type” of sex. It’s about enjoying yourself, being open, and communicating.
Don’t be afraid to set goals for yourself and be open to exploring ways of deepening your relationship with yourself, your sexuality, and your partner. These might look like:
- Being honest about your pleasure
- Doing your best to being mindfulness and being open to new techniques
- Trying something new
- Taking a risk in what you ask for
- Speaking up about your boundaries
- Being patient and take your time
- Receiving pleasure without feeling guilty
- Being curious about pleasure even without orgasm or erection
If something doesn’t work for you or your partner, that’s okay, too. In fact, that’s perfectly healthy, and you can’t better understand your sexual health without figuring these kinds of things out. Don’t be afraid to do some research via videos, books, or workshops. And go all in. Don’t be afraid to commit, while knowing and establishing your boundaries.
Also know that you’re not alone! Lots of people feel insecure, and lots of people share your concerns. When you start to shed rigid expectations of what sex looks and feels like, you’ll open yourself up to a whole new world of sexual possibilities and fun, and in the long run, changing the way you look at sex can do incredible things for your sexual health. After all, life is too short and there are too many options to limit ourselves and our experiences. Seize the pleasure for yourself and leave the rest behind.