What Would Occam Do? Asking For What You Want During Sex

Q. I can’t seem to orgasm when me and my partner are having intercourse, but when I involve my hands, I can. I want to have my partner do this to me, and not just have me having to do this to myself all the time. What can I do?

A. Far be it from me to invoke Occam’s razor so early in the morning when I’m writing this, but have you asked? I know, I know: it just seems to be the most obvious, borderline ridiculously stupid thing to ask. Why would you write into a sex column to ask a question about how to get your partner to do something, when your partner is right there?

Easy, people do it all the time, and since nowhere in the question do I see an effort of asking and having that effort thwarted, than I assume that it just hasn’t been broached. Thought about, dwelled over, given the space of equal parts anxiety, fear, and potentially a little bit of resentment or flabbergasted reaction, yes. Asked about? I’m leaning towards no. Thus, Occam, aka, William of Ockham, that lovable English Franciscan friar, scholastic philosopher, and theologian, who brought us one of the top ten principles of parsimony, economy, and succinctness, used in situations of logic and problem-solving:

When you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better.

Simplicity. It is better to assume the simplest, seemingly obvious explanation for any problem, because even while there are a million different scenarios out there, sometimes the simplest is the reason. While this varies on a bad self-esteem day, where it feels like the world is out to get you, think of what the answer would be, if you were not having the bad self-esteem day.

Back to our original point. It isn’t terribly out in left field to presume. First, while your question remains genderless, we can suss out one of two things right off the bat. Asking anything sexually from a partner can be hard: we have been trained to view our sexual needs as weird, wild creatures – feelings that can be shoved down, because hey, enjoy the sex you are having! Missionary style for procreation and think of England! Except, while that works for some folks, it’s normally more complicated than that. Not only is everyone’s physical body built differently, and thus, wired to orgasm differently, if we don’t feel comfortable enough in having sex to ask how to get us off, we probably won’t be comfortable enough to get off. We might keep our needs to ourselves, because we are scared of being judged by our intimate partner, which as we can all testify, is a particular type of hell we often not would wish upon our worst enemy. It feels a little raw, a little vulnerable to ask. Maybe you get the spiraling thoughts: What if they think I’m difficult to please? What if they think I’m freaky? What if they think I’m hysterical? What if they don’t care? What if, what if, what if, oh the what ifs come parading down the anxiety channel like the biggest neurotic parade in town.

But here’s the thing: you will always exist in “what if,” if you don’t ask. “What if” is far worse than “now I know.” “Now I know” allows for you to make informed decisions. “Now I know” allows for honest communication to be had. “Now I know” gives you a map of where to go next. Choose “now I know.”

The other thing we can easily suss out? If you are a woman, or say, male-identified or woman-born person, and you happen to be having sex with either a sir or a sir-identified, then usually there is a penis or a strap-on, a phallic thing, a doodle that is the bringer of fun times. Like most folks with a clitoris and a vagina, when the vagina is getting all the action, the clitoris gets lonely, which is shameful, since the clitoris is really the main attraction. It’s like the Cirque du Soleil of your genitals, while strictly vaginal penetration is akin to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus. It’s not bad – it’s entertaining. But Cirque du Soleil? That’s like gravity-defying, neon acrobats shooting stardust out of their ears, while tiny glowing bears drive small glowing cars across a trapeze, all to a Beatles song. It’s a totally different experience.

Of course, you already know that – and the question remains, why isn’t this mofo touching me during sex and I’m having to do all the work? Not to be left out of the eponymous adage in reference to the elimination of unlikely explanations for a phenomenon, welcome Hanlon’s razor. Occam postulated that the simplest, most common explanation, is probably the correct one. Hanlon, bless his heart, took it a step further and said, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Certainly neither you nor your partner are stupid, but we could say that your partner is stupid – or better, ignorant – to the fact that their getting off is different from your getting off, thus why they are not reaching around with their hands. A step further suggest that this is not out of malice, but again, adequate stupidity, aka, ignorance of the situation. Ask.

Besides, if you ask and they act like it’s some big to-do and you are being ridiculous, then you know it might not be the partnership you want to continue to be in. But as far as I can venture, you haven’t asked. Asking is magic, asking opens up doors, and asking communicates your needs, into y’all’s needs. Asking brings clitoral stimulation, potentially by way of hands, sex toys, and just plain old attention. Asking brings possibility. Asking is more important than any how-to can bring you.

So now all you have to do is ask.


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