Love Non-Orgasmically: She’s Not Coming But We’re Still Here

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When we first started dating, I didn’t know we would fall in love. It sounds melodramatic but at the time I didn’t know if my heart would be open to loving again. Being leaveable had made me question whether I was loveable.

We took things slowly. Neither of us wanted to rush. I wasn’t sure how ready I was for a new relationship. But somehow all the other people we were seeing melted away, and you remained.

You’d told your friend that you’d wanted to woo me and you had. My nervous queer heart fluttered when you smiled. We kissed for the first time in the dark, like an Arcade Fire song.


When you first told me that you’d never had an orgasm I said something stupid. I think I asked about how much your vibrator had cost, as if a cheap gadget could have been the cause (or a more expensive one the solution).


You’re lying on my chest and hiding most of your face. You say that you think it’s really common but people just don’t talk about it. You say you’ve tried but you don’t say how, for how long, with what regularity or enthusiasm (my mind is swimming with questions, clarifications). You think it could be The Depression. I’m nodding and trying to take it all in but part of me is already strapping on my running shoes.

The other, quieter part says to wait. It isn’t relevant to now — we aren’t having sex yet. Why worry about something that isn’t present?


So I said more stupid things — like how great orgasms are and how I really wanted to help you have one. You smiled and said, “feel free.”


When I first told you I loved you it was just after you’d helped me move to the city. Exhausted and lying on my new bed felt like the right moment I’d been waiting for.

I needed to say it.

And you needed to hear it.

And for the first time — we had sex, made love, fucked. Fully. It was new and strange and amazing. I felt both out of this world and totally in my body. I’d always loved sex but this was something else. Something transcendent.

I came. You didn’t. I’d kind of expected it to happen because of our connection – hoped egotistically anyway. I was disappointed but figured I’d give it time.


Fast forward three years. Afternoons get measured out with coffee spoons, like a Crash Test Dummy song, and mostly we try to love each other the way we need to love and be loved. You try to stroke my back as much as you can before your arm gets tired. I try not to be lazy and instead go for walks with you or get up early and make you breakfast.

You lovingly tie me up and spank me and I lovingly fuck you with a strap on. All these things and more, with love.

Sometimes I feel like there is something building in you (like an orgasm builds in me) but maybe you’re not ready to let it overwhelm you yet. I think something is holding you back so I kind of wish it would just happen so you know it can. I wish it was that kind of non-issue. Sometimes I nearly cry with happiness when I think it’s about to happen. (And one time I burst out laughing— sorry about that). And then I know this is something I really want and I can’t pretend it’s not.

But when you press me against my bedroom wall and kiss me, I forget pretty much everything— including this.

Mostly we’re both just quietly hopeful. We talk about you feeling closer than you’ve ever felt and the taste is bittersweet.


The reason I’m writing this now is to be a kind of love letter to the present. Because although things could change, I’m not treading water, waiting for them to. Because of that Andrea Gibson line: “I am going to be more difficult than anyone you have ever dated.” Because you once felt like that was you, and that this was a barrier to loving you.

I want to hold on to how fucking beautiful you look and how peaceful I feel when we’re in bed together right now at this moment – when there were imperfections in how we wanted things to be (because there always will be, in one shape or another).

And I want to hold on to something of this. This time in our lives. To being open-hearted little queers learning each others bodies. I don’t ever want to become complacent in our knowledge of each other – I want it to always feel like the first time we touched, like we’re still trying our very best. Still exploring every mole. That even when things are difficult, they can still be amazing and fulfilling. That I don’t always need to run from what is hard in life. That we can still tell each other what we want. And it never becomes about the finish line.


I still have those running shoes, in a box somewhere. I think that’s just the kind of person I am or need to convince myself that I am. That I could go. From anything or anyone. That everything ends, in the end. I’m not sure I’ll ever stop thinking like that.

You know I have a hard time believing in forever.

But right now, this is our love letter to each other. It might end up being two pages, it might become a whole novel. But my fingertips and my mouth are writing it on your paper-white skin, and you’re using my curls as bookmarks, my stretchmarks to underscore sentences and scribble in the margins. We crumple, we rip, and edit and rewrite. We fuck each other. We love each other, the best way we know how.

We just can’t put each other down. It’s keeping us up at night. We’re at the really good part of the story.

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57 Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading this so much that I just felt like I had to comment on it. At first I had no idea where it was going/what was going on yet I could of kept reading and reading, which I guess is the perfect reflection of how you feel on your journey. I like that it’s not all wonderfully amazing but it’s beautiful; it’s not overly romanticised like in a movie or a novel. It’s real and it’s honest, and that outweighs everything. So yeah. Write some more please ?

  2. This is amazing. I’m in the same position as your partner. The hardest part for me is how frustrated my partners get because they feel as if it’s their fault. Thank you so much for sharing. It means a lot.

  3. The line about the coffee spoons referred to above is originally from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” which actually works well with this piece because it’s about time, and waiting for something momentous:

    “For I have known them all already, known them all:
    Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
    I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
    I know the voices dying with a dying fall
    Beneath the music from a farther room.
    So how should I presume?”

    Beautiful piece, anon.

  4. While very nice writing, I didn’t really feel comfortable about the overall feeling of this. I understand some people see orgasms as a defining line in a person’s life and relationship (I’m not one of them), but “Because I believe you will one day have an orgasm. And then everything will change.” feels like putting even more pressure on the girlfriend. It doesn’t end on a ‘love you no matter what’, it ends in a ‘love you now, will love you even more then’, assuming there is a ‘then’ and striving to get there. I’m just not comfortable with that.

    I’m not trying to tell you how to feel or anything – especially if your girlfriend shares the feeling! -, but since you’ve posted this piece, might as well comment on how I feel about it. So, yeah. Unpopular opinion.

    • No, I absolutely agree with you. As the partner in a relationship who doesn’t orgasm (unless I’m causing it TBH), this feels like it puts a lot of pressure on their partner. Likewise, though, this is gorgeous writing and if your partner is fine with this, it’s great.

      • I totally disagree, I think it’s pretty honest on the part of the writer to say she wished their connection could have been the solution, but I think she’s saying it in an almost apologetic, self reflective way, this is what I hoped and though it didn’t come true, they’re even more in love today three years later, the connection was more important than that one thing. No one is so perfect to say they didn’t even hope?

        I really loved this Anon, thanks for sharing.

        • That’s not what the text said. There’s no “hoped”, there’s “hopes”. Of course the honesty is essential here, and I appreciate it and don’t blame the author for feeling the way they do, but it still bothers me that for three years the author still keeps hoping someday they’ll “get there” like it’s the most important thing, the thing that will change their relationship and the other person’s life forever. I’d be stressed as hell. I’m stressed just reading about it.

          • On reflection my comment doesn’t belong in reply to yours, it’s a standalone to the piece, which is a very personal one, perhaps the readers own emotions become part of the reading and thus different people have different responses.
            “But when you press me against my bedroom wall and kiss me, I forget pretty much everything— including this.” this line is one of my favourites

          • I feel you, but it’s exactly this stress that makes it hit home so well for me! Full of contradictions, inconsistencies and love. The cycle of wanting something and feeling bad for wanting it. Wanting to give something and feeling bad for not being able to (which often applies to both partners). I’m so much more curious to read about someone’s unfiltered inner thoughts rather than what’s least offensive. Brave to put them out there, even anonymously.

    • I liked that the piece was really poetic, but I have to agree with you Kay on this one. Being the partner on this story, I would feel pressure if my girlfriend hoped for that moment more than any other. I feel like relaxing and letting it all go in order to have an orgasm needs complete acceptance and understanding.
      Thank you for taking in consideration what other people feel, Kay.
      And for the piece, keep writing. Not representing all doesn’t mean anything. Plus it is good to be critical about pieces of art sometimes. Thanks for sharing!

    • I thought the writing was lovely, but I really agree with this comment.

      When I couldn’t orgasm with a partner for years, I felt broken. It took me a really long time to accept myself for it, to realize that if it didn’t happen that was okay and there wasn’t anything wrong with me. Honestly, if I was your partner I think I would still feel like I was striving to be whole?

    • I emphatically agree. I find it honestly creepy that the author still believes that an orgasm is so important that it will change everything about her relationship. And depressing. I’m anorgasmic myself, I’ve never had one in my life, and if I was in a relationship with someone who was just waiting for me to magically have one so our relationship could be ‘better’. Don’t do that to your girlfriend. Despite all the acceptance you tried to talk about in the first half, you basically ended up saying that you still don’t accept her as someone anorgasmic. You still want her to change so you’ll feel better about it.

      I don’t know how your girlfriend feels about this. Hard to, because this piece is all about you and your feelings about whether she can orgasm. But personally, if it was me? Stop waiting. Stop hoping. Stop expecting. Stop thinking that I’m repressing it somehow and if you just fix it right it’ll happen. Not everyone’s bodies work the same. Not everyone is physically capable of orgasm. If I was your girlfriend, I would feel so horrible to know that you thought like this about me.

    • i agree with this wholeheartedly. i can’t orgasm with a partner. i think it has to do with abuse i suffered as a child. and i don’t want to spend my entire sex life knowing that i’m someone’s pet project and sex will never be “perfect” to them unless i come! omg! i enjoy the sex as it is and it’s good enough for me. and i may NEVER come with someone. and if that’s fine by me it should be fine with someone else!!
      tbh i was so fed up with people having to ~cope~ with my inability to orgasm (as if it affects them more than it does me) that i admit i now fib about it altogether and claim that i have orgasmed when i haven’t. is that bad? dunno, don’t care honestly– because to me, i can get SO close and it’s just as good as coming. and like i said, if it’s good enough for me (and was quality A+ sex) that should be good enough for them. but a lot of people don’t understand that. and even if they do, often on a subconscious level it still bothers them.
      maybe i should feel bad about lying, but my partner and i are both happy and sexually fulfilled, and if the orgasm doesn’t matter to me and shouldn’t matter to them… welp… i don’t feel particularly bad ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    • Could you say more about this please?

      I have taken an SSRI since I was 16 and I’ve never had an orgasm. Lots of sexual pleasure, but never an orgasm. And I’m not upset about that, but I am curious.

      • Decreased or lack of ability to orgasm is one of the possible side effects of SSRIs. As far as I know, doctors still aren’t sure how or why this happens – it’s just been documented often enough that SSRIs come with a warning. Like with any medication, SSRIs affect people differently and different SSRIs have different effects on the same person. In my opinion, it’s worth asking your doctor about it.

    • Yes. A really terrific woman I began dating was immediately upfront about this fairly common side effect of anti-depressants, with which I had no experience. Her trusting me with that information totally took the pressure off both of us and provided a different level of intimacy. Without that frustration point, we relaxed and her orgasm would just happen – in spite of Big Pharma. 🙂

  5. I read this just after waking up and I cried. This was beautiful. I hope one day I’ll get to experience love like this, man. Some people wonder if they can even orgasm because they never have before. I guess that’s what I feel like with love 🙁

  6. Beautifully written and I really understand the sentiment because I have been there. I do feel this puts so much emphasis on the orgasm, and why? Your girlfriend is right in saying a lot of people don’t orgasm and it’s just not really talked about. For those who come the orgasm can feel like total surrender and leave us quite vunerable. Is that what you are missing from your girlfriend – that she seems not ready to let herself go with you? (That was my concern at the time). There are however other ways to show that than to have an orgasm. I just think you would both be happier if you don’t worry about the orgasm anymore.

  7. You blew my mind! I honestly did not expect it! Beautifully written and its so true people in life do go through such things!! And there is no reason to be ashamed about it!! Absolutely loved this post!!

  8. It’s hard enough for me to orgasm with a partner (it’s been onceasier to date) that this article was very very exciting to see. It was beautiful, very moving and very good for what it was. Its a big deal for me to see something like this! However, I would be more interested in seeing a piece like this from the non-orgasmic partner or from someone in a similar senario. I dont often come across writing that touches on that issue or is from the perspective of someone who can’t orgasm or has severe difficulties doing so. Even seeing a piece like this would have been so significant to me a few years ago when I felt broken and confused due to the apparent inability to get off with a partner and the struggle to get off at all.
    Even so when I finished this and almost cried the first thing I did was share it with my partner and a close friend because I thought it may move them like it moved me.

  9. This piece felt really familiar to me, because I am in this situation. It made me feel very insecure in the beginning of our relationship, because for me, orgasms were a part of sex, and for a while, it made me close down after having sex. Which was not an ideal situation (and that’s an understatement).
    It can still be frustrating sometimes, especially when something is building up but then magically disappears again, but we’ve talked about it, and she’s satisfied by our sex life, so I’ve managed to let it go, mostly. Actually, after I wasn’t so focused on orgasms anymore, it made me feel more relaxed during sex.

  10. OH WOW !!!!
    I am soooo in awe of your letter here .
    Well sweetheart, as an artist who specializes in Lesbian themes, can I use your essay text in one of my works ?
    Please email me and I can send you a sample of what I do.
    I AM SO IMPRESSED, IT IS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL.

    Anna Marie

  11. This was beautifully written. So I almost didn’t notice that what you were seeming to say was:

    “But right now, this is our love letter to each other.” A love letter about how you can’t come, and I wish you could, and some day I will probably leave you.

    Weird love letter, honestly.

    And why do you want your girlfriend to come so badly? There are so many other sensations that are like coming, or worthwhile in totally different ways, and there are so many different gradations of orgasm, too.

    What is HER goal when it comes to her pleasure? Why can’t that be your guide?

    • That’s exactly how I felt about it, though I was trying to be nicer when I commented, especially since I was one of the first and among only people who were singing praises for it without actually thinking about what was being said. I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only one who looked past the pretty writing and felt like it wasn’t a pretty message.

  12. As a person who has never orgasmed with a partner, this article really, really bugged me. Nothing shuts down my arousal faster than thoughts like “One day I’ll have an orgasm, and everything will change” which of course leads to “I’ll never be able to do it” and then “Well maybe this time will be different.” Knowing my partner was thinking those thoughts about me would render me incapable of performing all but the most mechanical of sex acts, and it would be no fun. I would probably cry afterwards. This kind of stress doesn’t make strong relationships.

    We try to give our partners the best possible sex for their bodies and brains, especially if we love them. To fuck them respectfully, we must educate ourselves. People who don’t have orgasms with partners need to be asked about their satisfaction differently; instead of “did you come (this time/yet)?” or “when are you going to orgasm already i’m impatiennnntttt” please ask “what else do you need to feel satisfied?” and then be enthusiastic about whatever it is.

    If sex without orgasms bothers you, orgasmic partner, you need to free your mind or gtfo, and not in a half-assed vacillating way (see: “Because I believe you will one day have an orgasm. And then everything will change…And it never becomes about the finish line.”) It’s not fair to stress your partner out wishing she could X.

  13. hello everyone! i’m commenting here as an editor to apologize for an editorial miscommunication — the version of this essay that was originally published was an earlier draft that had since gone through revisions, and mistakenly that earlier draft (and the one that contained the sections that i think many people are responding to here) went live when it shouldn’t have! the current one that you can read above is the revised draft that the author agreed to have published. i apologize profusely for the editorial mistake — please know that it was my error, and not the author’s! thank you! <3

  14. Although problematic, I liked this piece. Its style is bare, yet it is loaded. It is a bit vague, yet it reads easily. It is quite candid and it looks to me like it needs more work, or that maybe the author will get better and better with time; it still feels a bit shy or unsure. I don’t know I’ve only read it once so like many comments this is a ‘first impression’.

    Re: comments on how this piece can be upsetting in the sense that it seems to place harmful pressure on the ability to orgasm. I can see how this is a valid point. This piece seems to primarily be a reflection on love and attachment, and what it does is it uses the unability to orgasm as a mere catalyst, which is why the partner’s feelings or perception aren’t explored. The politics and ethics around orgasm as a compulsory part of sex aren’t explored at all, and in my own humble opinion this can be a bit irresponsible BUT on the other hand that’s part of this piece’s style and also that’s the beauty of reading a magazine who gives a voice to different authors (there are plenty of political and educational articles available here too). Still a good piece of writing 🙂

    • I completely agree. The style of the piece doesn’t invite a dialogue about politics because it’s a monologue, and that’s okay. It’s a very private contemplation that’s been made public… and that, in a way, is brave enough and good enough for now. It’s pretty obvious how important this topic is to so many couples, and still no one seems to be talking about it. Time for one of those political/educational articles to show up, eh?

      • There seems to be a lot of different angles taken on this article.
        I for one like it enormously, (including the draft version) anyway for what it’s worth- I cant come either !!
        Anna Marie

    • yeah, i have to say i agree. i mean, i was one of the editors on this piece who was part of changing the draft version into the final version… but still, upon further contemplation… it’s not an advice post, or an instructional, or a scientific analysis of an issue. it’s not a fair and balanced look at a relationship problem. it’s just one person’s truth. unless her personal essay contains hate speech, there’s really no need for anybody to tell her that she’s not allowed to write how she really feels. i read billions of personal essays that ultimately make me feel worse about my own personal failings and relationship problems, but it’s not the essayists responsibility to make me feel better. and i say this as somebody who was in her partner’s exact position for many many years and knows how it can feel. SO THAT’S WHAT I THINK ABOUT THAT. Lovely essay!

      • Yeah, I don’t think the majority of us wanted to tell the author she couldn’t feel a certain way or write about that, just what our reactions were to it, how her strong words about a personal thing made us feel.

        • Yeah, I mean, quoting from my own original comment, “I’m not trying to tell you how to feel or anything”. But I believe that when you post a piece and have a comments section, you leave it open for both praise and things other than praise. Not all reactions have to be positive.

          If I’m being honest here, now it feels like I was wrong to write about my own personal (and yes, negative) feelings on a personal essay that was published somewhere that invites comments. I hope that’s not what Riese meant.

      • Yeah, I fully agree, this IS one person’s view of her relationship and I myself cannot see what the fuck is wrong with this view.
        She is being loving, kind , amorous, and basically everything I would love to have from another person.
        So that is what I think,
        Lots of love,
        Anna Marie

        • Oh honey,
          Other peoples feelings don’t offend me at all.
          I am being misread here, I cannot understand what is offensive about “ANON”s article , personally it is one of the sweetest Iv’e read lately.
          Other people have different interpretations according to their life experiences and in a free world ( HA ! ) this is how it should be.
          Apologies if you think I am getting agitated, I am not.
          Just expressing my wholehearted joy at ready this piece,
          Love,
          Anna Marie

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