I was 32-years old when I orgasmed with a partner for the first time

I internalised the damaging narrative that if a man lost his erection, this was somehow my fault.
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“When I RSVP to a party…I make it my business to come!”

I’ll never forget the moment when Sex and the City’s Samantha Jones, brilliantly played by Kim Cattrall, loses her orgasm.

In a state of personal crisis, the usually sex-positive Samantha laments having spent hours “f*cking with no finale.” Sexed-up Samantha may seem outlandish on the surface, but when it pertains to her own sexual pleasure, her refusal to compromise is nothing short of remarkable.

While Samantha’s search for an elusive climax is framed in a comedic light, it’s a scene that’s always struck a chord with me. As someone who's been having sex for over a decade (and has always been able to orgasm solo), I never imagined that my orgasms during partnered sex would be permanently missing in action.

Until recently, I was afraid the big ‘O’ might never happen with someone else. I discovered masturbation when I was 13, and learnt how to stimulate my clitoris to achieve orgasm – and multiple ones at that. It was mind-blowing, but my introduction to partnered sex was rocky to say the least.

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Two years later, I started dating a boy the year above me at school. I was something of a nerd in the social strata and too eager to please. On our first date, he cornered me in an alleyway and after some heavy, awkward kissing, placed his hands down my jeans. As his fingers tried to ‘jab’ their way to a pleasurable, penetrative ending, my clitoris may as well have been non-existent.

I fell into a pattern of being too nervous to say what I wanted, then apologising for not ‘enjoying’ sex as I apparently should. I knew from my own research that around 80% of women didn’t orgasm through penetrative sex, but as I listened to other friends talking about climaxing through their partners going down on them, or even experiencing simultaneous orgasms through vaginal penetration, I despaired.

When I was 18, I fell in love for the first time. I found the courage to buy myself a sex toy – a vibrating bullet – and my solo orgasms became even more incredible, but sex with my boyfriend was painful. Our foreplay was practically non-existent and rather than tell him about my sex toy discovery, I put up a psychological wall.

Embarrassed, I’d preempt my own ‘failure’ and apologise before sex based on the assumption I probably wouldn’t climax. My lack of orgasm became a burden and I decided my role was to please others instead.

At university, I tried to be more confident and guide men into giving my clitoris the attention it deserved. I talked about my bullet, but most men were too ‘intimidated’ or felt ‘emasculated’ bringing a sex toy into the equation. Some would even lose patience if it took me longer than a few minutes to climax using it.

A recent survey revealed that only one in four women orgasm on most occasions they have sex, and 7% don’t climax at all. I was determined to still enjoy sex regardless, but the phrases “relax” and “it’ll happen when you least expect it” felt like toxic positivity. I questioned if there was something abnormal about my body, or unusual about the way I orgasmed by myself that I’d simply never be able to share.

Then, during the pandemic, I fell in love again. For six months, the only things on the menu were Netflix, food and sex. My boyfriend had slept with a lot of women (apparently) and I didn’t feel embarrassed about my body or my kinks, but my orgasm was still out of reach. He agreed to use my bullet just once, then complained because he couldn’t thrust as vigorously because of it.

I’m embarrassed by my behaviour. As someone who gave their partner orgasms around the clock, why didn’t I insist that I deserved the same courtesy? Why couldn’t we spend time playing with different toys, different positions and different methods to find my orgasm?

For years, I internalised the damaging narrative that if a man lost his erection, this was somehow my fault. Yet I never met a single person who felt the same responsibility or concern for looking after me.

In February this year, I’d had enough. After splitting with my boyfriend, a friend recommended that I join Feeld, a dating app for couples and singles with an open dialogue around sex. The app encourages daters to use pseudonyms and it’s a safe, consensual space to explore desires – more ‘friends with benefits’ than awkward swiping and stilted conversation.

I connected with a professional man in his mid-thirties, making it clear from the start that we could meet for a drink but with no guarantees. Sex was only on the table if we clicked – and there was consent, chemistry, and mutual respect.

After a few drinks, I told him about my experiences, admitting that I hadn’t achieved climax with a partner in the decade or so I’d been sexually active. “Well I have a bullet at home, let’s try it,” he said, without so much as flinching.

As we got down to it, he used the bullet on my clit in several different ways, but I still wasn’t getting ‘there.’ I think he sensed that I’d built a psychological barrier and felt pressure to put a time limit on my pleasure. So, he allowed me to take control. I sat on top of him and continued to use the toy with him still inside me.

He stayed patient, and hard, throughout, and he kept talking to me in a strong, affirming voice. He reminded me that I could take control; he wanted me to finish and I deserved to.

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For the first time in my life, I switched off and stopped caring. After 15 minutes, I came and it felt like I was floating! Finally, my orgasm was worth waiting for and I was so happy and relieved that I wanted to cry.

Ultimately, I only shared two sexual experiences with this man, but the connection we achieved was more powerful because it taught me that my body isn’t as ‘hopelessly difficult’ as others have judged.

I’ve accepted that my pleasure isn’t a ‘burden’ and have continued meeting others who’ve given me the same sexual pleasure. I can advocate for what I need and I know it’s not too much ‘work’ for anyone.

I hope other women don’t feel embarrassed to talk about this. I’m confident there are others who share the same experience – and I’m not alone in being able to orgasm solo but missing a partner who can prioritise my pleasure.

I wish I’d realised years ago that I’m not asking for anything more than what a man is conditioned to expect for themselves. I’ve invested in a new sex toy now (a wand) which has made it even easier for sexual partners to bring me to climax, and there’s nothing sexier than a man using it on their partner.

I want to keep exploring and see whether oral sex or a man using his fingers for clitoral stimulation can eventually offer the same realms of pleasure. I know that I’m not ‘abnormal’ or ‘challenging’. If you’re having mind-blowing solo orgasms, there's no reason why you can't have them with a consenting partner too.

There’s no time limit on your pleasure. My orgasm is no longer lost, and like Samantha Jones, I feel more present and empowered than ever.

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