Asking for a Friend is a weekly Sex and Relationships column hosted by Arts and Culture writer Dana Sparks and fueled by your curiosities. Click here to anonymously submit questions regarding sex, relationships and sex education.
“My boyfriend is really quick when it comes to performing sexually. I want him to last longer. What are some things I can do to help — without embarrassing him or making him feel bad?” – Rodger Dodger
Dear Rodger Dodger,
Firstly, I’ve been exactly where you are. Secondly, I am so happy you brought it up. Before I tell you how I handle it, I’m going to deconstruct an issue here.
You didn’t say it, but I’m going to: premature ejaculation.
The Mayo Clinic defines premature ejaculation as male ejaculation sooner than expected by him and his partner. Throughout my own sexcapades, I’ve accumulated a lot of feelings around the term and what it does to my sex life.
I think the notion of premature ejacluation is pervasive and doesn’t serve a purpose outside of reinforcing expectations around performance. The pressure to have sex for as long as we think others do — or as long as it is modeled in movies and pornography — stems from expectations that were crafted outside of our own relationships. However, good sex is what you define it to be through trial and error.
The pressure to avoid premature ejaculation is the most common and consistent source of shame and apology that I’ve personally witnessed in my intimate relationships. It takes away from the fact that sex should only ever be about the pleasure and comfort shared between you and the other person (or other people, if you’re into that).
I’m not on board with anything that breeds shame or takes away from a moment of consensual ecstasy.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, it is truly so good to hear that you are aware of the validity of your own sexual desires and still aware of your partner’s feelings.
Some basic things that I’ve heard make men last longer are more masturbation, condom use and applying pressure to the area right below the head of the penis by squeezing between his thumb and fingers. I’ve also heard of men thinking about really non-sexy things to keep their (other) head out of the game, but I don’t like this — a basic guideline to sex should be that everyone involved is present and enjoying themselves.
I could scour the internet, make phone calls and conduct interviews about male orgasms, but we’d be passing up a wonderful opportunity to talk about something more important: your pleasure.
The issue here is not that he finishes too quickly — it’s that you’re unsatisfied. You guys aren’t pursuing your pleasure as a team.
When I realized that this is something that commonly occurs, I made the decision to accept my partner’s physical ability with compassion, but without compromising my pleasure. I decided to treat my sex life as a time of worship, a dance, an adventure. With all of these, you must account for your own actions, as well as lead and follow honestly.
So, Dodger, it’s time to figure out what you want sex to really be.
What does personal sexual satisfaction look like when you imagine it? We know what it doesn’t look like, so use your knowledge of what you don’t want as you begin manifesting your pleasure.
Begin with diving deep into your own body and psyche. Learn the ins and outs of what pleasure means to you. For the rest of your life you will continue to build on whatever realizations you have now.
To do this, consider physically exploring yourself with your own hands, with a mirror, with toys, etc. as you think about what you want. Focus on the sensations. Note what movements cause certain reactions. Do you know what arouses you? Do you know what makes you orgasm? If you don’t know what feels good, you can’t expect someone else to know for you. The same rule applies to communicating this knowledge.
Once you’ve done your research, think about how you would articulate these feelings to your partner. Don’t be afraid to be the boss or step into a teaching role; these conversations can be very sexy in and of themselves. Asking for what you want, knowing how to find that and being able to demonstrate are important life skills that will continually serve you, sexually and otherwise.
Once you have a deeper understanding of yourself, you can share your findings with your partner and expand your pleasure together. Strip away the constraint of time during intimacy unless it serves a purpose, as it would in a “quickie” for example.
What foreplay brings you pleasure and keeps your partner aroused? From here you can work on how much keeps him on the edge and where you feel satisfied. Experiment with the order of events and how long certain activities last. Don’t be afraid to demand the attention that you deserve before doing what makes your boyfriend finish so quickly.
And honestly, just because your boyfriend has finished and is in the refractory period following male orgasm, it doesn’t mean that he is incapable of pleasuring you still. Ask if you haven’t already, because expressing that you want more might just be what he needs to get going again when he can. Sometimes this is a great opportunity to stay in bed all afternoon.
This probably wasn’t the answer you were expecting, but I really believe it will serve you better.