How to pleasure

Stop Worrying About Orgasms. Seriously.

Published: JULY 11, 2017 | Updated: FEBRUARY 15, 2022
When you remove the stress about performing and focus on having fun exploring with your partner, you create a recipe for awesome sex.

Anyone who has ever been in a supermarket checkout line has seen them, the magazine headlines:


12 Tips for Better Orgasms!


10 Steps to a Bigger Orgasms!!

7 Tricks for Louder Orgasms!!!


Bigger Better Louder Orgasms if You Do These 29 Easy Things!!!!


The message here is clear: We’re supposed to want orgasms and we’re supposed to want them to be good. Conventional wisdom says that we should want this enough to read about it and work on it and think about it when we’re in line paying for our groceries. We should be worrying about this a lot.

But what if we didn't? What if we just had sex with no goal in sight? Well, I'm here to tell you that it could be a beautiful thing.


Sex Without a Goal

I’m far from the first person to propose putting orgasm on the back burner. In fact, a movement has arisen around a practice called Karezza a way of having sex that, ideally, never involves orgasm. Ever. What I’m suggesting is a bit more relaxed. Orgasms, should they happen, are a beautiful part of the sexual experience. But it's important to understand that they are just that: Part of the sexual experience. So, what I'm proposing is an appreciation for sex as a journey, rather than getting caught up in where that journey will lead. (Learn more about Karezza in Why Some Couples Are Giving Up Orgasms (But Not Sex.))

Do something for me: Imagine you’re enjoying a beautiful scenic drive. The scenery is amazing, the temperature is perfect. You’ve got great music and you are genuinely enjoying the experience. Do you have that picture in your head? OK. Now keep that picture but add a child in the backseat who, every five minutes, shouts out, "Are we there yet?!"


How does that change the experience? Suddenly, you’re stressed out and just want to get where you’re going as quickly as possible. Here’s the thing: In the first (childless) version, you eventually would have arrived at your destination. Or maybe you wouldn’t have because something different and awesome caught your eye along the way. Either way, you’d get somewhere - and you'd be a lot more likely to enjoy yourself in the process. Journey not destination.

So how can you make something similar happen in your sex life? Here are a couple of awesome things you get to do when you let go of the goal of orgasm and focus on the sex at hand.


Seriously. All that worrying those magazines at the check-out stand want you to do? Let it go. All you have to do is hang out and have fun with the hot naked person (or persons) of your choosing. When you focus on the goal, you add a stress component to sex that no one needs. Sex can come with many pressures and expectations from body image concerns to relationship baggage. Adding "Can I make my partner orgasm?" or "If I can’t orgasm tonight what will my partner think?" to the mix can actually make finding that pleasure more difficult. So why not take that right out of the equation and free that bandwidth to focus on the fun stuff?

Taking orgasm out of the equation lets you appreciate the entirety of the sexual experience, rather than stressing about whether everyone has orgasms or if the orgasms are the right kind or orgasms or if the orgasms are good enough. You can just enjoy yourselves. Then, when you're done, you can just lie back and think, "We just had some sex. That was hot."

Take the Long Way Home

It’s human nature to learn the fastest way to do any task and go with that in the future. For many people, that means when we have been with a partner for any length of time we come to know the quickest routes to their orgasm. We hear them moan, see their hips shift, feel their pulse race and we take the cue to do what we know comes next to get them to the finish line. This is how folks end up with the age-old complaint that their sex lives are boring. (Are you missing the sex you used to have? Get some tips in When Sex Dries Up, How to Get Your Sexy Back.)

If you focus on the journey and stop worrying about where you'll end up, you're suddenly free to explore all sorts of new stuff! What happens when you touch him this way? What makes her moan that way? Try stuff out, have fun, play - you may not get to an orgasm but you might learn some awesome new tricks that feel great for both of you. In the long run, that's what really makes for great sex.

Better Sex, No Big O Necessary

Can sex without orgasms really be better? Yep. When you remove the stress about performing and focus on having fun exploring with your partner, you create a recipe for awesome sex. Maybe it will lead to orgasms and maybe it won’t. But there's one thing I know for sure: Everyone will have a good time.
JoEllen Notte

JoEllen is a writer, speaker, researcher and mental health advocate whose work explores the impact of depression on sex and relationships. Since 2012 she has written about sex, mental health, and how none of us are broken on her award-winning site The Redhead Bedhead. JoEllen has led workshops nationwide on sexual communication, navigating consent, having casual sex kindly, and dating as an introvert. She has toured sex shops, spoken at length on dildos, and...

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