The Mind-Body Connection

On eating disorders, self-injury, the psychosomatic component of physical illness, somatization, and the importance of touch

“In Hookups, Inequality Still Reigns”

Why some women complain about not having orgasms when hooking up

Men have orgasms when hooking up. Why do some women complain that they do not?

Tom Wolfe pointed out in his book, Hooking Up, that it was not only boys who used to hook up with girls to “score” sexually, but that thirteen- and fourteen-year old girls were willingly and easily going down on boys in school corridors and stairwells during the two-minute break between classes.

Many girls thought that this is what they had to do to be popular with boys. Some even went so far as to have their tongues pierced with a barbell because it was known to enhance sexual pleasure for the recipient of oral sex. Then they became very agitated when some classmates went online to spread the rumor that they were whores. One adolescent patient of mine liked a boy in school, so she filmed herself masturbating and sent it to him electronically. It was supposed to make him like her. It backfired terribly. In hours, there she was online, masturbating for all the world to see. She made a serious suicide attempt and had to be hospitalized. She did not understand what had happened. It was not fair, she told me.

Today, many women are just as active as men when it comes to casual sex and they too are complaining about the unfairness they are finding in hooking up. The Science section of the New York Times published an article around a month ago, “In Hookups, Inequality Still Reigns”, about how in sexual hookups many women are finding that they usually do not enjoy the same orgasmic satisfaction that they have in a more serious, committed relationship, and many often have regrets about casual sex. One woman complained that when she hooked up with a man in college, he showed no interest in her sexual satisfaction, and that the next time they got together, it happened again. “He didn’t even care”, she said “I don’t think he even tried at all.” He just fell asleep immediately, leaving her alone and very frustrated.

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I wondered why would she expect it to be different the second time. In a casual relationship, why would she expect him to care? Men tend to need less caring from their partner to have an orgasm than women and tend to achieve orgasm faster. That’s what hooking up means to a man. Generally it does not mean caring about his partner. Women should not expect it.

Women who complain that their hookup partner did not care enough to bring her to orgasm should understand that they can’t have it both ways. Blame it on evolution. Women generally need to feel cared for enough during sex to allow themselves to let go enough to release all inhibitions. As I wrote in my new book Hungry for Ecstasy: Trauma, the Brain, and the Influence of the Sixties, whether it is a male or female having an orgasm, all orgasms feature rhythmic pelvic contractions, an increase in the heart rate and blood pressure, rapid breathing and increased muscle tension, followed by, finally, the rapid release of all tension, the orgasm. For a woman to allow herself this pleasure, she must feel free of all inhibitions. Not so for most men, although there are some who do need to feel cared for to have an orgasm, which I wrote about in the same book. We tend not to hear much about them, probably because it may imply that they are less than macho.

Like it or not, most women need to feel cared for to feel free of inhibitions. Nature designed it this way. Oxytocin is a hormone found in human breast milk. It is called the hormone of love and attachment, which I wrote about in an earlier blog. Oxytocin also increases arousal and satisfaction. Evolutionary theory tells us that nature is more concerned about the continuation of the species, which requires that a woman feel sufficiently cared for by her partner to have and raise children with him and also requires that men provide enough women with sperm to insure the survival of the species. While it may seem unfair, women really should not expect to have it both ways, casual sex and sex with a partner who cares enough to bring her to orgasm. As the Rolling Stones said,

I can't get no satisfaction

I can't get no satisfaction

'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try

Maybe it’s time that women stop trying in hookups.

Sharon K. Farber, Ph.D. is a Board Certified Diplomate in clinical social work, maintaining a private practice in psychotherapy in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.

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