I'm still on vacation—week two—but the "Savage Love Letter of the Day" must go on. Subbing for me this week...
Daniel Bergner writes for the New York Times Magazine and is the award-winning author of four books of non-fiction, including The Other Side of Desire, a terrific book about kinks, kinksters, and the kinks in being human. His latest book is What Do Women Want?, which Salon said "should be read by every woman on earth" and called "a must-read for any person with even a remote erotic interest in the female gender," and which the Atlantic said "shatters many of our most cherished myths about sexuality." Check out Daniel's new TEDxEast talk about women and desire. Daniel will be answering your questions all week. And while Daniel has been a guest on the "Savage Lovecast," he's new so… take it easy on him in the comments, okay? –Dan
Hi, Dan. I am a 28-year-old pansexual female in a monogamous relationship with a man. We've been together or only a few months, and this is my first relationship with a man (all of my other LTRs have been with women). I have a question about a recurring situation we encounter...
A little background about him (which may or may not be applicable): he is a 28-year-old man who did not come until he was 18 years old. He didn't masturbate as a child and lost his virginity in college. I am his 3rd serious relationship. He is intact, very well endowed, and excellent in bed. I have between 3 and 7 orgasms every time we have sex... and it is wonderful.
Sometimes (I would say about 30% of the time), he does not come. It makes me feel like I'm not satisfying him, so in the beginning I would take it really hard. But he swears that he loves having sex with me, that it feels amazing, and that his body just won't cooperate. He says that he can feel when he *should* be coming... his body just doesn't do it. If I get upset or take it personally, he goes out of his way to reassure me that I'm not doing anything wrong.
So here are my questions: is this a common occurrence for men? Should I take him at his word when he tells me that he is happy and satisfied? Or should I be concerned that I'm not giving him what he needs? Would this indicate some kind of health concern for him? I just don't know what to do here.
Confused in Bed
My response after the jump...
Three-to-Seven, your pain is a reminder, a lesson to us all, that our woes are often a problem of perspective. I’m going to get to your lover’s sometimes stubborn body in a moment, but first: you. Can we try an exercise in gender reversal? I’m sitting with you, a confidant, at a bar, and I tell you, My girlfriend looks spectacular, she delivers me unto ecstasy three times per erotic encounter (here our exercise runs into some trouble, because, dear Three-to-Seven, as a man of my age, seven is outside the outer limits), and she climaxes 70% of the time. What exactly, you might reply, is the matter? What precisely are you fretting about?
Yes, you might advise me on how to provide her with blinding orgasms during the remaining 30% of tanglings, but you wouldn’t be too worried on my behalf. So before you read another word, take a minute and celebrate. You’ve got a lover who sends you into multiple orbitings of the Planet Bliss and who, more often than not, joins you there.
Now let’s get back down to earth, because I’m really not much for flights of metaphor. Might my boyfriend, you ask, have a medical problem? Possibly. There are rare pituitary disorders, for example, that can mess with hormones and muddle the ability to ejaculate. A much more likely medical culprit is the use of anti-depressants. Drug companies try to downplay this, but the S.S.R.I.’s, by bathing the brain in serotonin in the somewhat effective effort to keep us serene, meanwhile serve as highly effective climax killers. Whether or not your partner takes anti-depressants, it’s possible that a visit to his doctor would help sort out the situation. But I wouldn’t push him in his doctor’s direction, certainly not yet. That might be making too much of the issue—and you’re already in danger of making it about you and your need to please, rather than about his pleasure.
When you run into the 30% factor, do you apply your mouth? And if lips and tongue alone fail, then your snugly gripping hand? And another thing: you might borrow from the Orgasmic Meditators, who minister to their partners for a set amount of time. Tell him you’re going to lick and stroke him for 15 minutes, say, and literally set the clock, the way the OM’ers do. That way he’s free to receive pleasure without dwelling on how long he’s taking, how indulgent he’s being. This might unlock things.
But now, again, celebrate. Take your man at his word, that he’s “happy and satisfied,” and take the thrills he’s giving. This may be one of those minor new-relationship problems that float away with a few extra months of getting to know each other.