"Am I Normal?": A woman worries about only being able to orgasm alone while fantasizing about gay male sex
I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year and a half and having sex with him for a year. I’m getting concerned. I haven’t had an orgasm with him at all. He does please me and I’ve been so close to climaxing a few times but something always stops me.
I’ve had orgasms before but only by myself or in my dreams. The most troubling part is that I don’t dream/fantasize about having sex with him. Or any straight guy for that matter.
I’ve had a few dreams where I orgasm in my sleep while fantasizing about gay men having sex. Even more disconcerting is that in one of those dreams I was a “bottom” gay man who had female parts. I’ve also had deviant dreams and fantasies where I orgasm and they also do not involve straight men. I don’t fantasize about females either because it doesn’t do anything for me.
I am very confused. Am I normal?
– Confused Woman
All right, Confused Woman, we have two concerns here: Your lack of orgasms during sex with your boyfriend and your fantasies about being a bottom gay man with a vagina. First, to the issue of climax, just consider the feverish search for “lady Viagra” and other magic fixes to increase desire and orgasms. When Big Pharma goes after something it’s because there’s big money, and there’s big money because lots of women struggle with this issue.
Elisabeth A. Lloyd, author of “The Case of the Female Orgasm,” surveyed research on orgasmic frequency and found that, when it comes to penetrative intercourse without clitoral stimulation, only a quarter of female respondents regularly climaxed during sex; and five to 10 percent never orgasmed. (Including manual stimulation, Alfred Kinsey reported that 39 to 47 percent of women orgasmed regularly during sex.) We also know that women report having more orgasms as they get into their 30s and 40s. As sex researcher Debby Herbenick puts it in her recent book, “Sex Made Easy,” “learning to experience orgasm takes practice.”
It’s probably easier to orgasm alone because there is less pressure, self-consciousness and concern about your partner’s experience. (I could go on and on about how women are socialized to put men’s desires first, to prize our partner’s pleasure over our own — but I’ll leave it at that.)
Now, to the issue of your “troubling” gender-bending fantasies: Girlfriend, there is no cause for concern. Russell Stambaugh, a clinical psychologist and board member of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists, explains, “Fantasies have many different tasks to perform, so it is very common to report ones that seem strange.” (And, honestly, yours isn’t even that strange.) Stambaugh says that one of those tasks is “to compensate for things we can’t get in reality” — others are “to let off steam,” “to reassure us” or to “provide novelty, which often intensifies excitement.”
Fantasies are by definition fantastical. It’s incredibly common for people to get off on either impossible or entirely unrealistic scenarios. “Just look at genre fiction: historical romances, science fantasy and police procedurals, for example,” says Stambaugh. “Many recreational readers are consuming well-crafted, bizarre and elaborate fantasies they could never actually experience in reality. Some fantasies are much more fun in the imagination than they would be in reality.” You seem to have zero desire to make your fantasy come true, which is lucky because it would be hard to do so, short of gender reassignment.
Plenty of straight women fantasize about gay men. When another reader asked me about her taste for gay male porn, I wrote that the genre “is an erotic vacation of sorts for hetero women where the usual gender baggage is left behind. Guy-on-guy scenes don’t automatically call to mind real-world power dynamics between the sexes or the social and political history of male-female roles.” That’s not to mention that gay porn luxuriates in, and lingers on, the male form in a way that straight porn does not. These same explanations might apply to the personalized porn film playing in your head.
The only real problem in your letter is your concern itself. “As long as you accept that [your fantasies] don’t mean that there is anything wrong with you,” says Stambaugh, “you needn’t feel confused, and enjoy them for what they are.”
More Related Stories
- Slave descendants seek equal rights from Cherokee Nation
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Facebook's hate speech problem
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- When my home was destroyed
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- You are less beautiful than you think
- "Ghetto" tour lets you gawk at New York's poor
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- My miscarriages made me question being pro-choice
- Why I tried to be a punk
- I'm terrified of the cicada onslaught
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- SAT's right answers are all wrong
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Father of gay high school student arrested for dating classmate speaks out
- Conservatives A-OK with closeted Boy Scouts
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11
Every weeknight, Salon lets loose with Salon -- After Dark, our series of edgy and smart sex stories covering everything from porn to sex-themed art to the science of getting it on. Check back at around midnight ET (9 p.m. PT) Monday through Friday, for fresh new stories. For more information, click here.