I can orgasm alone, but not with other people. Is something wrong with me?
Good news—absolutely nothing is wrong with you! It’s completely normal to be able to orgasm alone, but not with someone else.
Sexuality is a big, complicated, exciting thing. Everyone has a different relationship to sex, and has different things that turn them on and make them feel good. Sometimes, it can be hard to recreate what makes you feel good alone when you’re with someone else.
First, we just want to point out that you’re getting to know your body in a new way, which is exciting!
Be patient with it, and with yourself. If you get caught up in “why can’t I orgasm?” you’ll stress yourself out and make it even harder. Remember that the goal of sex doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t!) be having an orgasm (or coming/cumming). The whole experience should be fun and pleasurable. It’s completely understandable and normal that you want to orgasm with your partners, but remember to enjoy all the other parts of sex, too!
Having an orgasm can be just as much about your headspace as it is about what you’re doing physically.
Sometimes, it can be hard to have an orgasm if you’re distracted by a stressful day, worried someone is going to walk in on you, or preoccupied with how you look or what your partner is thinking. Try to tune in to where your head is at while you’re having sex. What can you do to bring yourself into the moment?
It’s also worth asking yourself whether you feel safe and comfortable with your partner. This can make it especially hard to relax and fully enjoy yourself. If you don’t feel safe, why do you want to have sex with this person? How do you decide who to have sex with?
If you don’t masturbate (or touch yourself for sexual pleasure), consider trying it. This can give you some clues into the ways you like to be touched, and what you like to fantasize about. (That being said, it is also completely normal and ok if you have no interest in masturbation). If you masturbate, what are you feeling and what are you thinking about when you touch yourself? What are you feeling and thinking about when you’re with a partner? If they’re different, think about some ways you can help yourself relax during partnered sex. Maybe it means concentrating on you for a while instead of your partner. Maybe it means taking a bubble bath beforehand. Maybe it means fantasizing (or thinking) about something that turns you on while you’re having partnered sex. Talk to your partner about what you’d like to try.
It could also be that your headspace has nothing to do with whether you can orgasm with a partner, and it’s mostly physical.
If you feel comfortable, ask your partner to touch you in a way that’s similar to how you masturbate. Or, ask your partner if they’d like to watch you masturbate, so they can see how you get yourself off. Experiment with different activities and positions to find something that feels good to you. You don’t say what kind of sex you’re having, but remember that sex is way more than penis-in-vagina (PIV) or other penetrative sex. Sex also includes oral sex (going down on, eating out, giving head, blow jobs, rimming), manual sex (fingering, hand jobs), dry humping (sexual movements with your clothes on), using toys, kissing, and so much more.
You don’t say what gender you are, but if you have a vagina you should know that it’s very normal to not usually orgasm through PIV sex. In fact, only around 1 in 4 women regularly orgasm from PIV sex. Many need stimulation of their clitoris with hands, a mouth or a toy in order to have an orgasm.
You’ll notice that most of this advice isn’t about what to do physically, but actually about communication. Being open with your partner about what feels good and what you’d like to try can make a major difference. Communication is also super important for establishing consent and having safer sex.
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You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers. At the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center, we answer a lot of questions. Topics range from nutrition to pregnancy prevention, and everything in between. Now, we’re bringing these questions back to you with our weekly advice column, You Asked It. Got a question? Holler at us in the comments, send us a message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or email us at email@example.com.
This column is not intended to provide medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment or services to you or to any other individual, only general information for education purposes only.
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