How to pleasure

The Surprising Things That Happen When You Stop Going for the Orgasm

Published: JANUARY 18, 2019 | Updated: AUGUST 29, 2021
When you let go of goal-oriented sex, good things happen.

I’m sure we’ve all been there. You desperately want to have an orgasm, but the more you ‘go’ for it, the more tense you feel, and the further out of reach your orgasm seems to be. Conversely, have you also experienced that moment when an orgasm builds from nowhere, and surprises you in its intensity? Most of us love the "big O," but giving up the goal and enjoying the journey may be one of the best things you could ever do for your sex life. Here are the surprising things that happen when you stop going for an orgasm.


You Have An Orgasm

The paradoxical thing about orgasms is that if you want one too much it may not happen. According to Xanet Pailet, sex coach and author of 'Living an Orgasmic Life,' "orgasms happen at the intersection of high arousal and high relaxation[;] therefore if we have tension around having an orgasm, it’s likely to get in the way of actually having one.’’

Women in particular often struggle to climax, with only around 25% having orgasms during vaginal intercourse. The frustration this brings can make it even harder. Pailet said, ‘’The most important thing you can do if you want to have an orgasm, is to stop wanting to have it. If you are goal oriented and focused on having the orgasm[,] you are not relaxed. Your attention is in your head, and not in your body[.] [Y]ou miss out on sensation and pleasure that could easily lead to an orgasm.’’

So what to do instead? You can follow Pailet’s advice and get out of your head, and into your body. You can have sex in a way that focuses on the pleasure you are experiencing right here, right now. And you can tune into what your body needs to feel even more pleasure. (If we're talking about penetrative sex, that's probably more clitoral stimulation!)


You Can Enjoy the Pleasure of the Moment

Mackenzie Riel is a sex educator and product reviewer for TooTimid, a romance company. She believes that one way to slow down sex, and bring in more relaxation, is to extend foreplay.

‘’When we are not actually having sex then we can simply enjoy sensation. If you find yourself wanting to rush into the main course, take a deep breath, and notice your body and where any tension is and try to relax it.’’

We can get in the state where we become a little "addicted" to orgasms, and crave the rush of dopamine that happens during an orgasmic release. If we slow down and tune into our body, we can discover that there is pleasure is already there in the moment.


You Can Have Better Orgasms

When we don’t worry about climaxing, we may be more likely to take our time, which means that when, or if, an orgasm happens, it may be stronger because we’ve had more time to build up sexual energy. Pailet recommends deep breathing into the belly, which can help to circulate sexual energy around the whole body. This allows us to expand our orgasmic feeling so that it is a full-body experience.

You Can Let Go of Performance Pressure

The pressure to give or receive an orgasm can wreak havoc on genuine pleasure. If you have a penis, you may feel under pressure to maintain an erection for a long time, which can leads to early or delayed ejaculation. And many people can be led to fake an orgasm just to please their partner.

If both partners can focus on giving and receiving pleasurable sensations, rather than the orgasm itself, they can build a more authentic connection with each other. Pailet also recommends having an acceptance that erections can come and go during sex and that it’s OK.


You Can Discover What REALLY Turns You On

Once your mind is off the goal, you can focus on what really turns you on in the moment. This is something that can be great to try alone, before sharing what you discover with a partner.

Sex educator, performer and director Jessica Drake recommends trying out some goalless self-pleasure with the aim to educate yourself about what you enjoy sexually.

‘’Take some time, maybe half an hour. Be naked. Look at your body in a mirror and appreciate all it does for you. Sit down or lie down, continuing to touch yourself everywhere. Do you prefer softer touches on your genitals? What kind of pressure feels good? Pay attention to your breath here. Above all, just stay in the moment, focusing on the pleasurable sensations you’re creating for yourself. When your brain randomly starts to drift or you think about work or kids, gently bring it back to your breath and the sensations you feel. Maybe you do end up getting off, maybe you don’t. Prioritizing this time with your self is a great investment in YOU.’’


You Can Learn to Communicate More Honestly With a Partner

Not going for orgasm can be the opportunity to begin a conversation about what turns you on. Catherine Gleason, owner of Studio 22: The Private Collection of sexual wellness products recommends talking about fantasies with a partner, and Mackenzie Riel suggests talking dirty to each other, as you slowly warm up to whatever type of sex you have in mind. Just making the suggestion to your partner to forget about orgasm and focus on sensation can open up new sexual possibilities.

A Word of Warning

There’s one important thing to bear in mind. Relinquishing the goal of orgasm should never be about forsaking your own pleasure while your partner goes for their own. This can lead to a build-up of sexual tension that can bring frustration and resentment. It does work better as a joint endeavor where you both make a pact to forget about the destination and focus on the myriad of pleasureable sensations along the way.

Kate Orson

Kate Orson is a freelance writer, and author of Tears Heal: How to listen to our children. She writes, about self-help, parenting, and more recently, sex! She is currently working on a memoir; A Cut in The Brain, about her experience of having the LEEP procedure, and her recovery from side effects that doctors didn't warn her about.

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