Should a Man’s Orgasm Be the End of a Sexual Encounter?

This article was written by Social Psychologist Dr. Justin Lehmiller.

People have a tendency to look at orgasm as the ultimate goal of sex, an idea that sex therapists refer to as the orgasmic imperative. From this perspective, sex isn’t really sex unless an orgasm happens, which leads people to approach sex with this singular goal in mind. So, what happens when you reach that goal? 

mans orgasm end of sexual encounter

For many people, it means the end of sex because they don’t have any other goals to achieve beyond that. This is a problematic way of thinking about sex, and it’s a big contributor to the orgasm gap, which refers to the consistent finding that heterosexual women are far less likely to reach orgasm than their male partners during a sexual encounter.

On average, men typically reach orgasm faster than women. Studies find that, whereas men typically reach orgasm in 5-6 minutes, the average for women is more than twice as long: 13-14 minutes. In other words, men tend to reach orgasm long before women are even close.

Obviously, if men see their orgasms as the end of sex, this is going to create orgasmic inequality—and we need to change that.  

It’s Time to Rethink the Orgasmic Imperative

We need to adjust the way we approach sex and stop thinking about our own orgasms as the ultimate goal. We would all do well to do this because the orgasmic imperative harms everyone.

When sex is a goal-oriented activity, it tends to take us out of the moment because we’re focused on achieving our goal instead of savoring the other pleasurable things about sex. When we’re distracted like this, we can’t fully enjoy ourselves. 

Paradoxically, this can also make it harder to have an orgasm sometimes. For example, if you start to worry that an orgasm might not happen, there’s a good chance it won’t. When you get stuck in your head like this, it can create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The orgasmic imperative can also lead people to feel like they’re a failure if orgasm doesn’t happen—and this can create anxiety the next time you go to have sex, which can set the stage for performance or other issues. 

Instead of viewing orgasm as both the goal and end of sex, look at sex as an activity that you’re doing for pleasure and enjoyment. Trade the achievement mindset for a pleasure-focused mindset. Just relax and have fun—and remember that sex can be fun even if an orgasm doesn’t happen, and that one person’s orgasm doesn’t have to be the end of the fun, either.

Treating Orgasm as the End of Sex Can Hurt Your Intimate Life

There’s another problem with treating your orgasm as the end of sex, which is that regularly stopping before your partner has the opportunity to climax can end up killing your sex life.

Think about it this way: if the focus of your sexual encounters seems to be all about your pleasure and never about theirs, what’s in it for them? If they stop enjoying sex with you, they’re probably not going to want to do it very often. And they might resent you for it, too, which can lead to conflict that puts an even bigger damper on desire. 

Putting your partner’s pleasure on par with your own isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s also one of the ingredients to a healthy and mutually satisfying sexual and romantic life.

Plus, paying attention to your partner’s pleasure can be hot and fun in and of itself. And watching your partner’s ecstasy just might get you revved up and ready to go again.

Closing the Orgasm Gap

If you typically orgasm well before your partner does, there are several things you can try to ensure everyone leaves satisfied. 

First, check in with your partner about your sex life. What do they want and enjoy the most? Which activities or techniques bring them to orgasm most reliably? A little communication can go a long way toward helping you come up with a new game plan or approach to sex that is mutually pleasurable. 

Second, consider investing in some sex toys to give you an assist. For example, after you orgasm, switching to vibrators or other toys can be a handy way of extending the encounter to your partner’s satisfaction.

Third, think about switching up your sexual positions. The sexual position most often used by men and women—the missionary position—actually isn’t the one that offers women the most consistent experiences with orgasm.

Research shows that positions where women are on top, such as the “cowgirl” position, are linked to higher odds of orgasm, in part, because they provide more clitoral stimulation.

Fourth, don’t rush through foreplay! Spending more time building up arousal first through oral sex, kissing, breast and nipple stimulation, and genital touch before you get to intercourse may facilitate your partner’s orgasm. 

Finally, there are several things men can do to extend the length of time it takes them to orgasm, which can make it easier to reach orgasm around the same time as their partners. You might try practicing methods that have been show to help men develop better ejaculatory control and delay orgasm, such as the stop-start technique. This can be particularly helpful for men who tend to orgasm quicker than average.

Conclusions

In short, it’s time to stop looking at the male orgasm as the ultimate goal and end of sex. Good sex is about pleasure and fun, not about achieving goals—and prioritizing your partner’s pleasure is one of the keys to a mutually satisfying relationship.