Dear Yana,

I’ve been with my boyfriend for a couple years now. We’re just now starting to experiment in our sex life. I’ve known how to make myself vaginally orgasm for a few years now. And he knows what positions I need to do to make this happen.

But it’s gotten to the point that if we have sex and I can’t have my orgasm, I get awfully bitter when he finishes. I have to fake a smile and pretend that it’s okay, but I’m usually so angry. Why can he finish, but I can’t?

When I try to talk with him about it he feels like I’m only into sex for the orgasm and not the intimacy. I want to be understanding but now that I know how to orgasm, if I can’t finish I’m angry and I have a hard time letting it go.

Am I silly? How do I remain content if he doesn’t let me orgasm, too?


Bitter About It


Dear Bitter,

If my partner was only concerned with their orgasm and had zero regard for mine, I might feel bitter, too. From your description, it sounds like you’ve tried to bring this issue up to him outside of a sexual context and to talk about what you desire from your sexual relationship with him, and that’s great.

I’m noticing that a lot of the language you use to describe this issue includes words that imply that your boyfriend’s in total control of your body and shared sexual experience: “I have to,” “he doesn’t let me,” and coming in at a grand total of being used three times in your 10-sentence email — “I can’t.”

Who died and made your boyfriend in charge of your sexual satisfaction?

You’ve done the work of getting to know yourself and your body, of unlearning whatever shame baggage you were gifted by the world around us (because, when it comes to sex, we’ve all got at least a little to carry), and to discover your vaginal orgasm. Woo! Then, you’ve communicated to your boyfriend what he can do to create mutual pleasure in your sexual interactions. He knows what to do. You know what to do. So what’s the hold up?

You don’t need to fake a smile and pretend that it’s okay. Because it really doesn’t sound like it’s okay. You say so yourself that you’re angry, bitter, and struggling to remain content with your sex life and, eventually I would imagine, your relationship in general.

Resentments are a great way to poison a relationship. And it sounds like yours are building with every anticlimactic interaction. I say if you want to give this relationship a shot at making it, it’s time to stop faking it.

I wonder how a conversation would go with your boyfriend about what exactly is keeping him from wanting to? being able to? or being interested in? collaborating on your orgasmic satisfaction. If what gets you there relies on his erection, perhaps he’s unable to sustain for that long. So maybe the conversation is about how to maintain pleasurable penetration for you that doesn’t rely on his body functioning precisely every single time. Perhaps he feels some shame about this and needs permission to try other things with you like penetration with hands or sex toys. The book She Comes First by Ian Kerner can be a good resources here.

Bring some of your own vulnerability to the table, too. Anger is a classic “iceberg emotion” meaning, there’s always a nice frozen chunk of other emotions just underneath its surface. Are you angry that he’s not listening to you? That he’s not prioritizing you? Is there something else going on in your relationship outside of sex that’s bothering you? Leading with what’s contributing to your anger rather than simply releasing anger at him is generally a more productive way to communicate. This doesn’t mean fake a smile. But it does open the door to constructive criticism and change.

Finally, does he truly believe that your sex life lacks intimacy or he using that to block the real issue? Perhaps he’s willing to forgo his reliable orgasm and recommit himself to intimacy for its own sake. But somehow I doubt that.

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,