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Columbia Spectator Staff

Good things never come for free. We work our asses off for everything: good grades, good vacations, good friends. We even work our asses off, or at least we should be working our asses off, for good sex. I hate to break the bad news, but getting into bed with someone else naked—partially or fully—doesn't automatically yield pleasure. You can't just snap your fingers and get yourself or your partner off. Orgasms don't have fairy godmothers.

Everyone who's had an orgasm knows exactly how it feels. Most of us can even pinpoint the exact time and place of our first orgasm. There's never any uncertainty when you have one. It's hard to believe that there is anyone among us who hasn't had an orgasm. But, like it or not, there are those who've never even gotten off from sex—oral, anal, or vaginal. Some people have never even gotten off masturbating.

Women definitely get the shaft end of this deal. Some women can only orgasm from oral sex, others only from intercourse. Still more can only give themselves orgasms. A guy friend of mine boasts endlessly of his oral sex skills; his girlfriend goes absolutely crazy with a flick of the tongue, just not when he actually sticks his penis inside her. I, on the other hand, have never gotten much out of oral sex, but almost always orgasm from intercourse. And one of my closest friends, who's been having sex for four years now, just had her first orgasm from a guy two weeks ago.

Men aren't totally free from the difficulties of reaching orgasm either. The most common problem for men seems to be their getting off too quickly. Obviously, premature ejaculation doesn't occur as often and as ridiculously as it does to Jason Biggs in American Pie. Nonetheless, it still happens, sometimes embarrassingly. It's awkward enough when it happens with someone you're not in a serious relationship with—you feel like you'll never have a chance to prove that you're not actually terrible in bed. It's almost worse, however, with someone you are seriously involved with. Repeated episodes can definitely threaten a relationship.

We all love to touch each other when we're drunk, but a man's inability to reach orgasm when drunk poses quite the problem. Drunken impotence sucks for all parties involved—intercourse with a limp dick never feels good, and giving head for more than 20 minutes just isn't fun.

No matter which way you look at it, all of these orgasmic problems create incredibly awkward situations. I'd be the first to encourage a woman to be honest and tell her partner when she isn't going to orgasm, but how far will that actually get her? She may just want whatever it is—oral sex or intercourse—to be over, but saying so leaves her partner feeling like shit and destroys the mood. The repeated promises to make up for it—"I'm going to be the first to make you come, I swear!"—just make the woman feel worse. Dealing with premature ejaculation or drunken impotence isn't any easier. The best thing is to avoid drawing attention to it, but how do you ignore something that is so blatant?

Faking orgasms certainly seems like an easy way out. If for no other reason than the infamous diner scene in When Harry Met Sally, when Meg Ryan demonstrates her ability to fake an orgasm, we are all aware of how simple it is for a woman to fool her partner. But can a man pull the same stunt? I, for one, always thought it was impossible, but when I recently mentioned this to a guy friend, he responded, "What? Haven't you ever heard of a quick flush? Just take the condom off and get rid of it before she sees."

While we may think faking orgasms is an ideal fallback, the truth is that doing so couldn't be more detrimental to our sex lives. If you fake an orgasm, your partner will think he or she is doing wonderful things for you, and you won't be coming any time soon. What's more, faking an orgasm makes it impossible to talk about the issue. It's a difficult discussion to begin with, let alone when you also have to explain that you've been faking all along. There's a reason my guy friends go on about how important it is for their girlfriends not to fake.

Reaching orgasm has just as much, if not more, to do with yourself than with your partner. The most important element of an orgasm is comfort. If you're not comfortable with yourself, you're not going to get off, even from masturbation. The same friend who just had her first orgasm from a guy told me that it was also the first time that she was having sex for herself, without worrying about what her partner thought or felt. Ironically, it's easier to reach orgasm when you don't think about it. In some sense we are better served by letting go and enjoying every nuance and sensation than by focusing on one element. Mind-blowing sex happens when you least expect it.


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