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Come Along with Me

Does mutual orgasm really mean anything?

The magical mutual, simultaneous orgasm. Is it all it's cracked up to be? How exactly did this event come to be so sensationalized, and take on such a powerful symbolic role in human sexuality?

The pressure on the male to sexually satisfy his wife is nothing new. In fact, many cultures (including Western culture, at various times) have actually believed that the female orgasm was as essential to conception as was the male climax. Some cultures even suggest that multiple female orgasms are necessary to create a healthy baby. In the Jewish tradition, it is considered a "mitzvah," or a sacred and encouraged act of kindness, for the husband to give the wife an orgasm during sex.

Physician Max Huhner argued in the early 1900s that if a man did not give his wife orgasms during sex, the poor wife might fall prey to the ills and evils of masturbation, condemning herself and her children and family to that sin's negative effects, and it would all be the fault of her inconsiderate, unskilled, and selfish husband.

Russell Trall was a physician in the 1800s who was actually an instructor of the young physician John Kellogg. Trall argued that unless a sex act was pleasurable to both parties, was generous and harmonious, and involved love, as opposed to lust, any children that might result would be flawed. The child of a lustful mating would show the weaknesses they inherited from their parents' corrupt union.

Men are under incredible internal and external pressure to give their female lovers an orgasm. A man rates his sexual self-esteem based upon his partners' response to his technique. When a man and a woman go to bed, the woman may worry about her body and appearance, while the man worries about his skills and his ability to sexually satisfy her. This is the main reason women fake orgasms. Women have told me, "Well, I knew I just was never going to come that way, but I didn't want to him feel bad." Or worse, "I knew he wasn't going to stop until I came, so I finally just faked it, so I could go to sleep already."

The pressure doesn't stop there. It's not enough for the man to give the woman an orgasm, but if it's a truly wonderful experience, both partners, theoretically, will magically orgasm at the exact same instant. So, simultaneous orgasm is an expression of a couples' communication, connection, bond, commitment, respect and sexual compatibility? Really? Granted, when it happens, it sure is nice. But does it really mean anything? I can't find any real research looking at it, other than some suggestions that mutual, simultaneous orgasms are not as common as people believe.

There is such incredible individual variation in people's bodies and sexual responses that mutual simultaneous orgasms are as likely to involve a lot of accidental timing and synchronicity as they are to reflect any mystical physical or spiritual bond. If anything, they may more often be driven by a man's sexual arousal and excitement at a woman's approaching climax.

This issue has been on my mind of late because of some clients I've seen in my practice. In the sexuality counseling I do, I often spend time with both individuals and couples, helping people realize that sexuality is a lot more than just an orgasm. That's a cherry on top of the experience, to be sure, but there is so much more to intimacy than worrying about whether someone climaxes. Does the timing of the end of the encounter — not that a sexual encounter necessarily ends with climax; there can be a lot more after that such as cuddling, talking, etc. — really have much to do with determining the value of the experience overall? It's like going to an amusement park, riding rides all day, and having a great time. And then, the last ride of the day ends up not being all that much fun. Does that last ride lead you to devalue the entire day, and regard it as a waste and a letdown? I often see people who approach sexuality that way: "It's all in the finish." For them, if the ending isn't just right, the whole thing loses value.

Sex and intimacy are complicated enough as it is. Can people just enjoy it for what it is, and stop putting so much pressure and heavy expectation on it?