I recently had an ~interesting~ first sexual encounter with a man. We had been talking for a couple weeks and it was our second date, and it was all going pretty well. So far we seem to connect pretty well on an intellectual level and there was some great intimacy build up (read: massive sexual tension-filled cuddling while watching a movie). Though it took us a second to kind of get on the same kissing level, after a while we got on the same groove and I was definitely pleasured.
And then he had an orgasm and it was honestly a turn-off for me. The sound and face he made were just super different than anything I have experienced before. I am naturally fairly quiet, and the few men I’ve been with in the past happen to have been rather conservative as well.
I don’t watch porn, so my past sexual experiences are all I have to go off of. I don’t want to judge people for what they want in bed and I certainly don’t want this to be something that puts a stop to what could potentially grow into a relationship. But at the same time, if I’m turned off by him orgasming, what does that mean for our sexual chemistry in the long term?
— Turned Off by his Turn On
Dear Turned Off,
I once heard a comic do this bit about making fun of other people’s laughs. He made some commentary about how you’re pretty much a total jerk if you scoff at somebody because of the way in which they express pure, unbridled joy and humor. That when you make fun of someone’s laugh, you’re telling them that when they’re tickled pink enough to let go and guffaw, or snort, or cackle, they actually shouldn’t feel joyful because they look real stupid when they do.
Does this rule apply here, Turned Off? Are you being a total jerk if you ditch this dude because he’s so good at leaning into his moment of pleasure that he looks pretty stupid when he does it? Is his looking real un-cute during his ecstatic climax more important than his sexual joy?
To be fair, Turned Off, I would imagine that if you looked yourself straight in the O-face in the mirror it might not be the prettiest selfie you’ve ever seen either. Losing control in a moment of pure pleasure looks and sounds funny sometimes, and that’s okay!
Of course, there are always two sides to every coin. If the way your partner gets off simply does not turn you on, that’s not something you can exactly control. Desire is a magical substance hard to micromanage and it’s also an important part of any sex life so if yours is drowning in his … stuff … then it’s possible you’re not sexually compatible.
There are ways you could try to work around this: not look at him when he’s climaxing, get to know him better and find a gentle way to talk about it, or seeing as this is the FIRST time you’ve ever seen his O-face, you could give him a second audition. Each orgasm has the potential to feel differently than the last and not all O-faces look the same.
However you decide to proceed, know that both options are valid: you aren’t required to fully desire every single aspect of your partner or how they experience sex, but keep that about you and not about him. Be mindful about how it would feel if you were trying to let go in an orgasmic moment of bliss and were told that you looked revolting while doing so. Accessing genuine sexual pleasure already requires most of us to peel back many heavy layers of shame, so do what you can to not set anyone back in that hard work.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a relationship therapist, sex educator, and writer living in the Pioneer Valley. You can find her work and her professional contact information on her website, yanatallonhicks.com.