It’s just not going to happen tonight. You know it isn’t. You’re deciding whether or not to fake it, but you’re really thinking about one thing. It’s the same thing that everyone thinks when you say the words “sex without orgasm”: failure.
But, here at Cornell, we don’t like to hear the f-word very often. We goal-oriented Cornellians suffer through TA office hours and late nights at the library in order to get good grades and good jobs. A problem occurs, however, when this goal-oriented mentality transfers over to our sex lives. We’ve become fixated on achieving a sexual goal — specifically orgasm — in all of our sexual endeavors. We’re so focused on reaching climax and figuring out how to help our partners have them that we’ve lost sight of the meaning of the act that leads us to them. Just as we think of our studying as a means to obtain high grades, many Cornell students have convinced themselves that sex is merely a means to obtain orgasms.
For those of you who just thought to yourselves, “Well, isn’t it?” allow me to set up a scenario. Let’s put you in a romantic bedroom complete with candle lighting, champagne and the partner of your choice. Cue the mood music (whatever works for you) and we’ll consider a few questions. What if I told you that you could have multiple orgasms during sex? Sounds pretty good, right? After all, wasn’t that the whole point of this setup? Now, what if I told you that you could do it in just two minutes? Who wouldn’t love to rattle off those suckers like jell-o shots at a frat party? How about if you could orgasm without bothering with any sex at all? Imagine two minutes of you and your partner just standing in that room without moving, looking at each other. Starting to sound a little less appealing? Let’s remove the partner altogether. So now it’s just you standing there alone, in a dimly-lit room, having multiple two-minute orgasms. If the whole point of sex is to have orgasms, why does this seem so depressing?
The reason is that, unlike schoolwork, sex isn’t about suffering until you get it right. It’s not about struggling through until you reach orgasm, or about achieving a certain number of them. Sex is ultimately much more rewarding and satisfying when it involves a passionate and intimate experience with another person. It’s about the journey — not the destination. And, believe it or not, unlike your grades, the number of times you can get off in one night does not actually appear on your transcript.
So, why have so many of us been thinking of orgasms the same way we think of grades? Why isn’t it hard to imagine a guy yelling “Nice!” (try to refrain from reading a Borat impression here) after he manages to bring his girlfriend to orgasm? It’s because Cornell students are just so used to striving for things that are hard to reach, whether it’s that 4.0 GPA or the elusive Orgasm. Women don’t come with manuals and it can be challenging to get us to ride the Big Wave. It’s not always an easy ride (no pun intended) for the guys, either. The most common problem for men seems to be their getting off too quickly, à la Jason Biggs in American Pie. Excessive alcohol consumption can result in some orgasmic troubles for guys, as well. Nevertheless, we still strive for that ultimate goal of getting an orgasm because they just feel so good.
However, just because orgasms are sought after doesn’t mean that sex without them isn’t enjoyable. When I asked a particularly “active” friend of mine if she’d ever had good sex without having an orgasm, she told me that, “Of course, she had … mainly because she liked the guy so much.” Just for kicks, I asked her ex-boyfriend if he’d ever had sex without his partner having an orgasm. He replied with a hearty, “Hell, no. I can always tell by the way they moan that I got the job done.” Thanks for listening, buddy.
Fortunately for guys like this one, while their egos tend to require that their partners reach at least one climax, it is nearly impossible for them to tell the real thing from a clever imitation of it. And guys, no matter how many tricks you think you might have, you really can’t tell the difference. Take a trip over to Collegetown Video and rent When Harry Met Sally and you’ll see what I mean. Still, most girls are aware of their partner’s goal-oriented mindset, and if they care about their feelings, they would prefer committing a little white lie over telling their partners, “Well, you just didn’t do it for me! Better luck next time … if there is one!”
However, faking orgasms when they aren’t happening could ultimately make it harder for you to reach one. If you fake it, your partner is never going to learn what actually leads you to orgasm, and makes it impossible to talk about an already sensitive subject. No one likes to lie, and all of this deception can make you very uncomfortable in bed. The most important element of an orgasm is your comfort level. If you’re not comfortable in the situation you’re in or if you’re so focused on reaching your ultimate goal that you can’t appreciate the process, you’re not going to get off. Ironic as it may be, it’s easier to reach orgasm when you aren’t thinking about it. All of this emphasis we put on getting orgasms can actually hinder us from reaching them.
If sex were all about orgasms, girls would be happy with their vibrators and there would be no such thing as meaningful sex, or making love. Indeed, we desire something more than just orgasm. We desire people. We desire passionate experiences of intimacy with people. An orgasm should not be the goal of sex as good grades are of studying, but should rather be considered an incredible bonus of a good sexual encounter. We’re even more likely to have them if we can let go and enjoy the nuances of the sexual experience. I say we leave the struggle in our schoolwork and choose to just enjoy ourselves and welcome what (or who) may come in our sex lives. However, I will say that, in terms of both our exams and our sex, it’s always quite nice to receive a bonus.
Nikki Nussbaum is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cornell Unzipped appears alternate Tuesdays.