The Hook Up: 9-28-2011


Dear Anna,

First off, I want to say that having a sex and relationship advice column dedicated to gay/bi girls is awesome. You are consistently thoughtful and entertaining, and I really wish your column had been around when I was first coming out. Keep up the great work!

So here’s my situation: I’ve never had an orgasm. That in itself is a pretty common problem; I’ve done some reading on the subject and am not too worried. I’m in my early 20s, and I know that many women don’t start until their late 20s or 30s. It’s not ideal, but I’ve come to terms with it and moved on with my life. I’ve tried all the recommended things – lots of creative and varied sex and masturbation – but nothing quite gets me there. I’m willing to be patient, though, so it’s not really a big deal.

The real issue is this: how can I convince the women that I date/sleep with that my “problem” is not their fault? Every girl I’ve ever been with has eventually left me, and I think this is the main problem. I genuinely enjoy sex, and I tend to (odd as it may seem) have a much higher libido than most women. I’m good at consistently getting other women off, and I enjoy physical intimacy for its own sake without worrying about a conventional conclusion.

However, once the initial novelty of a relationship fades, girls I’m with start to get frustrated and lose self-esteem. They perceive the relationship as one-sided, and this leads to emotional distance.  The fact that I’m very into sex and usually initiate it confuses them, because from their perspective I’m getting nothing out of it. No matter how I try to convince them that it’s normal, that I’m having a great time, the ‘it’s not you it’s me’ angle seems like a tired cliché. Am I doomed to make women feel like they are bad in bed, even if they’re not? Do I have an obligation to be upfront about my situation before we start sleeping together? I’m too honest to fake it, but the truth sounds like a white lie!

Anna says: Thanks for the kind words, lady. It warms this bitter, advice-columnist’s heart! While we’re filling the Internet with warm fuzzies, here’s one for you: You seem like a really well put-together, confident woman, secure in your own sexuality and needs. So why the apologetic tone? And let’s clear up one immediate thing right away. Relationships end, for reasons varied and inane, harsh and ambiguous, but it’s highly improbable that your partners left you because you are pre-orgasmic (Advice column PSA warning: Every girl is capable of orgasm, hence the term pre-orgasmic refers to those who haven’t yet experienced one. If you need further elaboration, please rent the movie Shortbus). On the slim chance that maybe one or two of them did leave you over it, then they are douchecopters anyway who didn’t deserve you. 

If a woman feels like she’s bad in bed, that’s coming from her own insecurity, not from anything you are doing. I suppose in the rare case that a partner is passively lying there like a corpse, one might suspect that they aren’t enjoying themselves. But I doubt that’s the case for you. There are myriad ways we express and experience pleasure. Orgasms are one tiny fraction of that. I understand why some women might feel slighted or deflated if their partners never reach the Big O, because we are so goal-oriented in sex and due to our weirdly competitive nature. We look at sex like a prize to be won, and if our partner isn’t buckling over in orgasmic bliss, then we feel we have failed. It’s nonsense, of course. So how do we shift gears? How do we stay focused on the toe-curling awesomeness of sex without the pressure and the grandiose obligations?

For further insight into these questions, I turned to a friend who has had similar experiences to yours. She offered these words: “The issue isn’t how to convince the women you’re sleeping with that your ‘problem’ is not their fault, but to make it clear that there’s not now, nor has there ever been, a problem. If someone makes you feel guilty for not having an orgasm, it’s not okay. If someone makes you feel like you’re deficient, less-than, damaged, it’s not okay. If someone makes you feel like you have something to ‘come clean’ about, something you should have been ‘up front’ about, it’s not okay. You’re as obligated to be up front about the fact that you don’t have orgasms as you are obligated to make sure your potential sexual partners know, well before you make it to the bedroom, that you’re probably going to make some weird faces and maybe some weird sounds, too, and that you might get some stuff on their sheets. 

That said, communicating is important. If you tell your partner what’s working and what could be better, what you want more of and what else she might try, she’ll be a lot less likely to feel like you’re not getting what you want, and a lot more likely to trust you when you say you’re satisfied with the sex you’re having with her.”

If you’re being open and honest and communicative, and your partners are still looking at your orgasms like a symptom to be diagnosed, then ax them. Life’s too short to worry about others’ fixations.


I’m in high school right now, and my whole life I’ve known that I was a lesbian. This summer, I went to a summer camp, and I had a really good gay friend there. I told him I was a lesbian, and he was totally supportive. Ever since then, I’ve never looked back. When I came back from the camp, I talked to my brother, who went to another camp. He told me that my best friend confessed at his camp that she was bisexual. So, naturally I was like “Holy s–t.” I talked to her on skype and asked and she said yes. I was really excited. I suddenly was so attracted to her, and asked her out a couple of minutes later. She promptly rejected me saying that we were friends and that it would be weird. Also, she didn’t like me. I was devastated and just Facebook stalked her for a while.

I just started doing cross-country this year, and now I’m really attracted to this other girl (let’s call her A). She’s really sweet and pretty. However, I think that she’s straight since she’s very feminine. Should I stick to liking my best friend or should I go for A? I have a strange habit of falling for really girly straight girls. Thank you so much!

Anna says: You’re only in high school and already you have a habit? Oh Honey, no. You have lots more pattern-forming years ahead of you. Don’t get stuck in a “habit” labeling rut already.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Congratulations! You’re well on your way to becoming a Certified Ghey Ladee. But before you break out the hemp totes and paint the town a practical beige color, let me hash out a few things for you.

It’s pointless to try to “win over” someone who doesn’t want you. Just as the first letter writer shouldn’t have to convince her partners she’s having a good time in bed with them, it will similarly save you a lot of frustration and heartache to not waste your time on someone who’s told you “Let’s be friends.” Your best friend is a perfect example. So you’re both gay. Hurrah! But she sent you a clear message that she doesn’t like you romantically. Of course, some people change their minds, even if it’s only for a little while. As my friend Lauren put it, “I stopped barking up the tree and then the tree fell on me.” But you can’t live your life hoping and wishing that someone will change because you want them to. Besides, now you have an ally, which is something that not a lot of high schoolers have. So treasure that friendship as you’re wading into the murky waters of queerdom.

On to this cute, cross-country girl. You can flirt and get to know her and all that fun stuff. You can tell her you like girls if you’re comfortable with that and see how she reacts, but if she doesn’t abide by the rule we just outlined, then accept it and move on. Most people in high school are straight. Some are “straight” and will figure it out later. But high school isn’t exactly the friendliest environment to the gheys, as you probably know. Your dating pool is tiny right now, but it will get bigger. Pretty soon “being gay” will not be the only requirement to having a crush on someone. In fact, it’ll be the smallest one possible. Compatibility involves so much more than merely having a vagina.   

While you’re young and waiting for that pool to get bigger, make as many friends as you can. Meet interesting people. Explore yourself. Take advantage of your education while it’s still free. Fall in love all the time, but don’t let it consume you. You’ll get hurt sometimes, but you’ll get over it.  Don’t let your heart be the only thing about you that gets attention. It’s one small part of the fabulous, smart, interesting you. 

Hailing from the rough-and-tumble deserts of southern Arizona, where one doesn’t have to bother with such trivialities as “coats” or “daylight savings time,” Anna Pulley is a professional tweeter/blogger for Mother Jones and a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Find her at and on Twitter @annapulley. Send her your Hook Up questions at [email protected].

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