The battle in my head ensued. I was embarrassed to admit it.Here I was, teaching women to release the pressure of having climax as a goal so they could fully enjoy their sex lives—and climax was all I could think about.
Climax. It’s one of the most sought-after sexual experiences that we have—or don’t have.
There is universal pressure and desire to reach climax—or orgasm, as most of our culture calls it. The two are synonymous in most circles, but in mine they are not: climax is the moment of involuntary muscle contractions and in some genders expulsion of ejaculate.
Orgasm, in this new definition, is the entire experience of going out of control.
So climax is a piece of orgasm—a meaningful piece, for most of us. It’s deemed the marker of success in mainstream sex, the finish line.
The fairy tale version of this kind of sex goes something like this:
- First you get turned on.
- Then you kiss.
- Then the clothes come off.
- Genitals get licked (first theirs, then yours—gotta be fair about it).
- Then you fuck passionately until—BAM! You both reach climax (at the same time, or course), that delicious, fleeting moment of victory when all that tension explodes out of your body. The world is made right again.
- You made it. Now you can both blissfully go to sleep.
That’s the fairy tale version.
The real version, or what it used to be like for me before I rearranged how and why I have sex, was more like this:
- We haven’t had sex in a week so I decide that it’s time to fuck, like it or not.
- We kiss.
- The necessary clothes come off, but half stay on because I get cold at night.
- My genitals get licked but I can’t relax and actually enjoy myself because, 1. I’m not convinced he actually likes doing this, and 2. all I can think about is how long it takes me to reach climax. I feel pressured to come and so I can’t.
- We fuck passionately and he reaches climax—that delicious moment of victorious tension release!
- I don’t. I sort of half-cuddle, half-subtly grind my hips at him hoping that he’ll get the message that I want more, but not wanting to ask directly because I feel guilty for wanting to have a climax. (Plus, it’s going to take so long…)
- He falls asleep and I stay awake fantasizing about sex and masturbating, because I know how to take myself there.
Now my sex usually goes something like this:
- I’m turned on.
- We might kiss, we might not. (Sometimes I don’t feel like kissing—I have this weird thing about mouths.)
- There is no order to our sex. We follow whatever is the hottest and it keeps changing.
- Sex might last 5 minutes or 5 hours. It doesn’t matter either way because we follow what feels the best, not what is supposed to be happening.
- Either or both of us might reach climax—or one or both of us might not. There is no pressure to climax, so I can relax and enjoy myself.
- Sex ends when we decide we’re done.
By devoting my life to studying female orgasm and Orgasmic Meditation for the last three years, I have undone a lot of my cultural conditioning around sex as a woman. Obligatory, tit-for-tat, formulaic sex is largely a thing of the past. I understand and teach that having climax as a goal sets up a pressured situation that makes sex much less enjoyable.
But sill… climax. It nagged at the back of my—er, uterus.
Climax is an obsessive cultural focus of both failure and success. For women, we often have trouble reaching climax—and feel like there’s something wrong with us. Men, on the other hand, can feel like failures if climax comes to quickly. Regardless of the nature of the struggle, the focus on climax during sex takes us out of our true experience of connection and pleasure in the moment and into a projection of what we think is supposed to happen.
So like a good sex student, I had removed climax as a goal in my sex.
Yet it nagged…
“Oooh, I want to climax this time,” I would think during sex.
“I’m not supposed to want that,” the little voice would say.
“Just let it happen, Bez,” I’d tell myself. “Don’t force it.”
“BUT I WANT IT!!!!” The little voice grew louder.
“Shhh! You’re not supposed to admit that you think that!”
The battle in my head ensued. I was embarrassed to admit it. Here I was, teaching women to release the pressure of having climax as a goal so they could fully enjoy their sex lives—and climax was all I could think about.
So I decided to employ my favorite remedy for an existential crisis—research. In order to remove the stigma of my hunger for climax, I decided to just have A LOT of it. I think I decided something ridiculous like five times a day.
My boyfriend was delighted with this research. I, however, was burning with shame.
The first river to cross was admitting my desire. “I want you to make me come,” I would squeak to him, practically hiding beneath the blankets. I was mortified.
His reaction, however, was encouraging. Because it turns out that expressing embarrassing desires is a total turn on. As I evolved from sheepish to wanton in my expression, I started admitting all sorts of desire that I had normally kept stuffed out of my deep-seated fear of being fundamentally slutty. Any remaining propriety I possessed began to unravel.
Which brought me to the next river to cross: now that I was admitting my desire for climax, how could I actually… make it happen? Five times a day at that?
For me and many others, especially those of us with vaginas, climax is not an a + b = jackpot! sort of experience.
That’s because the way women orgasm is different than how men do it. For most men, orgasm is a linear experience. There is arousal, excitement, and then with enough time climax. Friction + time = cum your brain out! It’s a pretty straight shot, so to speak.
For women, however, friction alone doesn’t reliably take us over the edge. That’s because a woman’s orgasm is nonlinear, meaning it doesn’t follow a predictable pattern or order. It rises and falls like breath, of its own accord. There are no rules. We can’t make it happen. What we can do is create the conditions for orgasm to arise within us. It’s more like holding your hand out so a deer can come forward eat from it—rather than chasing the deer to force feed it down the throat.
(This is not to say that women’s sex is always gentle like a deer. Oh no. Substitute tiger for deer, if you want, and a limping wildebeest for deer food in the hand. It’s the same concept.)
Hence, that week, I was doing a lot of deer chasing. Purposefully achieving climax required a lot of contortions on my part. It was like—I had to—hold it just right—and then—Right there! Don’t move—squeeze—hold my breath! I think I popped a few veins in the process of forcing my orgasm to behave. While climax was happening (sometimes) I wasn’t sure I was actually enjoying it. I mean sure, it felt good (sometimes). But it also was a time-consuming project that posed the great risk of throwing my back out and permanently staining my mattress.
Plus, I noticed my climactic ways leaking into the rest of my life. My temper was flaring. I felt insatiable even though I was having more sex than ever. With my clients, I felt impatient. I wanted them to get it and to pop in our sessions—I craved the explosion. Everywhere in my life, I wanted the destination. The journey was pointless! Just give me the VIEW AT THE END ALREADY, DAMMIT!
So the following week, I did the only natural thing for an extreme sex-researcher to do—I decided to not climax AT ALL for two weeks.
No way, no how, no matter what—it could feel as good as it wanted to, I could still do all the sex things, I just couldn’t go over the edge.
What happened next was really comical.
For the first time in my life, I had to prevent myself from climaxing.
Of course, now that the goal was off the table it seemed to want to happen all over the place. I was panting like a woman in labor trying to hold it off. I could barely have sex because my body, given these new restrictions, seemed delighted in proving how easily it could climax now that there was no possibility of it doing so.
A few days into this research, I accidentally climaxed during sex. It just happened out of nowhere! I succumbed to the inevital doom of going out of control. And I was very upset. I felt guilty about reaching climax—instead of guilty about not reaching it. In that moment, I felt akin to every man who has ever “come too soon.”
I realized that having climax as a non-goal still made it the focus of sex. So I ended that research a few days later.
What I ultimately learned through my experiment was that climax is a beautiful part of sex when it’s neither sought after nor denied. It naturally arises, just like every other sexual experience, and I can now honestly say that it’s neither better or worse than anything else. It’s just another glorious view—and there are so many good ones. By exploring both extremes of climax, I ended up in the sweet spot of simply allowing what wants to happen in my body and my sex to happen. This is the most enjoyable so far.
(Note: I’m going to keep the practice of admitting embarrassing desires… I think that still has some life left in it.)