Stronger at the Broken Places

How challenges can strengthen your relationship

The Ultimate Aphrodisiac

It's not what you think.

Eva was brought up to be a pleaser. As a little girl she felt like it wasn’t ever OK to disappoint anyone or to make them angry. Upsetting people was tantamount to committing a crime and the last thing that she wanted to be perceived as was a criminal. So she became skilled at what she called “fudging the truth”. “I didn’t tell big lies, just white lies, at least that’s what I told myself to justify what I was doing. Telling a little fib in order to spare someone’s feelings seemed like a legitimate thing to do. It was what most of the people in my life were doing so there couldn’t have been anything too wrong with it. At least that was what I was telling myself.”

So when Eva got married at age 20 to her first husband it didn’t seem to her that there was anything wrong with pretending to have an orgasm when she hadn’t had one. “I know that it seems kind of crazy, but I thought it mattered so much to him that I have an orgasm that it seemed cruel to not fake it, and that’s what I did for the duration of our 18 year marriage. He took it personally, like it was a reflection of his manhood if I didn’t have an orgasm. At first when I couldn’t orgasm with him, my husband was insistent and he pressured me to let him stimulate me until I did. It was very unpleasant. The solution seemed obvious and simple: fake it until you make it…so to speak. There was just one problem. Over the years, all that dishonesty eventually caught up with me and with us. Over time, the trust and integrity of our marriage disintegrated and we ended up getting divorced.

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Apparently, I still hadn’t connected the dots because after my second husband Darius and I got married I continued the same pattern of faking orgasm. I’m embarrassed to say that I continued it for several more years with my second husband Darius before I got to the point where I couldn’t tolerate the dishonesty that I was bringing into our relationship. But Darius was different. He was secure within himself and didn’t feel responsible for my sexual experience and he didn’t try to coerce me into having an orgasm. Although I enjoyed sex with Darius more that I had ever enjoyed it with any other man,  I continued to be unable to orgasm with intercourse even though the petting and closeness turned me on immensely. I would often masturbate to orgasm afterwards to relieve the tension. I felt that I was abnormal and it kept nagging at me that I was concealing the whole truth from Darius. My discomfort kept getting stronger and stronger.”

“It finally got to the point where I couldn’t stand it in any longer. I was scared to death. I was afraid that Darius would leave me once he knew the truth, that he might withdraw from me sexually, and that he would be angry and judge me for being a liar and a fake. But I finally got up the courage to tell him the truth.  I said ‘Darius, I need to get honest with you. I haven’t ever had an orgasm with you in all the time that we’ve been together. I haven’t told you because I have really making love with you and I didn’t want to risk spoiling it. 

Unlike my first husband, Darius didn’t take it personally. He knew that it wasn’t a failure on his part that I hadn’t been having orgasms. He understood  that my enjoyment of sex and my orgasms were not his responsibility. All he said was ‘You could have told me worse things.’ He actually thanked me for being honest and commended me for being courageous. He was sad that I had felt that I had to keep this secret from him for so long.

We decided to go to some sexuality workshops together. It wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be, primarily because I knew that we were never going to see these people again. The breathing exercises that we learned helped me to relax. We learned to create a supportive setting. Learning about the G-spot, or sacred spot as they called it in the workshop, was enormously helpful. Darius’s loving attention, coupled with the exercises, taking time to connect and the commitment to stay with the process, all these things in combination allowed me to have an orgasm during intercourse the first night after the workshop. Until then I didn’t believe that I could have orgasms during intercourse. I was wrong. I just needed some special attention and the right conditions for it to happen.

Darius gave me permission to not have an orgasm and assured me that he loved me just as much either way. Since the breakthrough, sometimes I've had orgasms during sex, and sometimes not. It doesn't matter so much anymore. The real problem wasn't whether I had an orgasm or not. It was withholding the truth from my partner. Without the secret between us, our relationship, sexual and otherwise has totally transformed.”

One of the secrets of love-making is that honesty is the ultimate aphrodisiac and there’s nothing that cools the flame of desire faster than withholding the truth. Of course, it’s always feels risky to reveal a truth that could upset or disturb your partner, but there’s bigger risk in concealing it, and that is the loss of trust and intimacy. It’s just as dishonest to conceal a truth that is relevant to your relationship as it is to deliberately misstate something in order to create a false impression. Lovers know this and they are unwilling to settle for anything less than an impeccably clean relationship. Are you?

Linda Bloom, L.C.S.W., and Charlie Bloom, M.S.W., are the authors of Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truths from Real Couples About Lasting Love.

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