This is what happens:
I am on my back, or on all fours, or bent over the bed. I can tell it’s about to happen -- the pace quickens -- and sometimes I’m thrilled (thank fucking GOD this is finally over) or sometimes I’m angry (no no no NO THIS ACTUALLY FEELS GOOD FOR ONCE godDAMNIT). And then they come -- I feel it happen inside the condom, inside me, or I hear them groan or cry out in that self-conscious gravelly way that 21-year-old boys do, and then I feel it. And I see something in them change, some fundamental unclenching or relaxing, and then sometimes they kiss my face and look at me like I am an amazing, precious gift.
I push them off of me as gently and sweetly as I can. I ask them if it felt good and they always sigh heavily and contentedly and say "Yes, YES, yes it really did," and they ask if it felt good for me.
"Yes! Yes, definitely!" is what I always say, and I kiss them and I smile and try to look satisfied, or sated, or at least sexy.
They ask me with a hint of anxiety because they know I didn’t come. Because I never have.
That beautiful unclenching has never happened for me, because I have never had an orgasm -- not by myself, not with someone else, not in my sleep. I worry sometimes that I have had one, but that something is fundamentally wrong with me and that orgasm for me just feels kind of...meh. But to my knowledge, nope, nothing, not one. I’ve been 21 for 21 days, if it matters. I’ve also never masturbated.
OK, maybe I’m not allowed to say that last part, because as a young teenager I read X-rated fan fiction voraciously until I would melt into my chair and sometimes even moan aloud, and I’ve tentatively tried to touch myself over my underwear, and sometimes even under it. Until very recently, the suggestion of masturbation made me actually lock my knees together tightly. I have put fingers inside of myself other than to take out a tampon maybe 5 times over the course of my life, and every time it felt bizarre and weirdly muscular and I hated it and immediately stopped. One time was in front of a guy I was about to have sex with, so it was even worse pretending that I was incredibly turned on by feeling that weird slippery muscley feeling.
I’ve asked all my sexual partners to describe what an orgasm feels like, just because I’m masochistic in almost every area of my life, and I’ve seen their faces glow beatifically. I’ve had sex with 4 people, and been in sexual relationships with half a dozen more, and every time I’ve told them that I’ve never had an orgasm, they get an excited gleam in their eyes. A HA, I can see them thinking, this is my chance! Because what greater proof of your sexual prowess is there than to be The One That Came The Un-Comeable, right? The challenge is thrilling to their tender egos. And they have tried to talk to me about it, and tried their absolute, sweaty-browed best to make me come, and it has never worked.
So eventually, after a month or so of really trying and then getting petulant that they can’t make it happen, they elect to forget about it. They just pound away at me for the roughly 3.3 minutes it takes for a 21-year-old guy to come, and then I take part in the charade that I just had a fantastic time. I’ve never faked an orgasm, which I’m somewhat proud of, but I have faked my enjoyment of the experience. Quite a lot, actually.
I know that I’m the problem. I know, I know, I know that until I figure out what I like no one else can, and that I’m being dishonest, and that guys aren’t mind readers, gosh! And I know how a lot of you are reacting to this. Oh my GOD, I would NEVER have sex if I couldn’t have an orgasm. That pooooor girl, you’ll say, shaking your head ruefully and giving your trusty vibrator a pat. I know these reactions because I’ve sat in conversation with my beautiful and sexually liberated friends, and I’ve laughed and probably too-emphatically agreed with them as they’ve said those same things, and I’ve nodded knowingly and giggled at all the masturbating-when-your-roommate-walks-in anecdotes, and I’ve high-fived about never dating a guy who can’t make you come.
Because for people my age, who grew up sneaking downstairs to watch "Sex and the City" reruns, for people who have always known that buying a vibrator is cool, the girl who’s too scared or neurotic to masturbate and who has never ever come knows to keep her mouth shut, or risk having a bunch of Liberated Young Women patting her hand and making sad, pitying faces at her and giving her tons of Liberated Young Woman advice.
I’ve gotten all of the advice, anyway: just lie down in your bed, or your bathtub and start slowly. Buy a vibrator. Or don’t, just use your hands. Just get comfortable! But the mere thought of masturbation makes me instantly and heart-poundingly uncomfortable, so no matter how much Enya I play or how many lavender candles I light, it is not going to be an "Our Bodies, Ourselves" type of experience for me.
So I’ll go back to school and tipsily hook up, sometimes with guys I care about and sometimes with guys I barely know, and I will continue the charade. I’ll gnaw the shoulders of guys who are about to come out of anger -- at them, but mostly at myself -- disguised as passion. I’ll continue acting satisfied and pleased and thoroughly fucked when I’m bored and still horny and furious with myself. What is wrong with me? will echo constantly in my head, but I’ll drown it out by insisting to myself that sex isn’t even that important, anyway.
And I will wonder if any of the rest of the women on campus are like me. And I’ll wonder when I will finally be brave enough to get comfortable, and to insist on satisfaction that I want so desperately. I’ll wonder if that day will ever come.