It would be easy to assume that every man’s goal during sex is to orgasm. Even those more progressively minded would likely think of ejaculation as the grand finale, regardless of whether it’s seen it as the entire point. While the journey and build-up are certainly not without merit, the end result is called a ‘climax’ for a reason. Nature itself, through the hardwiring of a pleasure-based reward system, provides the incentive. Simply put, ejaculating feels really fucking good.
But what would happen if that weren’t the case, if that sought-after culmination held no satisfaction at all? For that matter, what if reaching orgasm triggered such strong feelings of discomfort in a man that he actively avoided it, despite his enjoyment of sex? We hear from a man who lives this reality: thoughts on onanism, sex, and the motivation behind the two from someone whose trip across the finish line is less than celebratory.
Hmm… what does it feel like when I cum? Can you imagine what it would feel like if two sides of your brain were joined in the middle with velcro and in that exact moment… someone ripped them apart? Like that. To be honest it’s not always bad. Sometimes it feels like nothing—like bleeding a radiator maybe? Other times, it’s the mental equivalent of a searing hot poker hissing as you plunge it into water. And it’s almost always accompanied by visual anarchy that I can only describe as paint being thrown all over the inside of a clean, white room. Physically? Yeah, that’s uncomfortable too. Again, that ranges from feeling nothing, to that recoil sensation you get from someone touching your skin when you’re running a fever. Occasionally it’s followed, a split second after, by an internal voice saying “You’re so fucked up.” Blink and you’ll miss it, and as quickly as the words have come, they’ve gone. This is illustration through extremes.
What it is and what it’s not: well, it isn’t a badge of honour; I don’t see it as a quirk or a talking point. (If you want that, go read about the guy with two penises on Reddit.) Funnily enough, my lack of enjoyment doesn’t warrant much recognition. It sort of just is. But it really does change everything and anything I know about sex.
I’d be as keen as anyone to pull out the skeleton key, so I’m happy to play an open hand with ‘the facts’. Here’s everything relevant I can think of: I wasn’t sexually abused as a child, I’m straight, I don’t have gender issues, I was in a six-year-long relationship, I played sports all through school, I was a model when I was younger, I studied neuroscience in college, I’m not religious, and I occasionally do drugs. I guess those are most of the pieces. I don’t believe much in the ‘spontaneous’ onset of behaviour; most things in my life have been explained via some convoluted, spiralling logic that I can eventually trace back to a distinct origin. Although I realise humans naturally pattern seek, I’m pretty confident in my evaluations. This puzzle, though, I’ve yet to figure out. Oh, and one more thing: please don’t think I am emotionally devoid, or want to be a fucking automaton because ‘not feeling’ is cool—it would just lead to improper conclusions.
As for how I feel about sex on the whole, without labouring the point, sex is awesome. It’s so much fun. You remember when you were a kid and you got to go in a bouncy castle, all sugar drunk, and you would just be so excited you’d run head-first into the side? Like that much fun. I don’t think I could ever get bored of playing with boobs. It’s like being on a rollercoaster, if you didn’t think you would throw up at the end.
I will/have/frequently do stop sex before cumming if I think they’ve had a good time (whatever that means). And I suppose I have to see the funny side of what happens next: ironically, me stopping things when they finish always, always results in “And now your turn!” I hate it. I just fucking hate everything about the feeling. Take it back—I don’t want it. It’s like ‘inflicting’ myself upon someone. If it does end up happening, in the moments after I finish I’ve been told I change. Accounts range from me looking like a lost child, to my eyes glazing over, to simply ‘not being there’. It isn’t just post-coital sobering—I feel shame in those moments…deeply. For the most part I am drowning in my own head as I watch my personal Pandora’s box open up. I stay silent and wait for the thoughts to wash over me. It’s all I can do if I’m expected to act normally.
So, if ejaculating as the end goal is taken off the table, then how does the equation balance? It doesn’t. And I guess this is the part I find interesting, and why, despite the onslaught of unpleasantness that accompanies me through every finale, I’m not sure I’d actually change it if I could. It’s not hard to see where the power generally sits with regards to sex. Have you fucking been on Tinder? The traffic only flows one way. At a guess, I would say women get five–ten times the amount of interest that men do. This is also an accurate reflection of the dating world on the whole. In terms of supply and demand it’s not very hard to see how that stacks up. And so the cycle created results in this carnivorous pursuit of sex—no, carnivorous pursuit of getting your end away. It confuses me; I can’t be a part of it. I mean, in some ways that’s what it has become: greedily fishing away for a catch to go and blow your load in. I don’t even know why it makes me so angry; people can do what they like. But that attitude, the inability to control that primitive little yearning. Fucking a girl like she isn’t even in the room, or as if she’s just a vehicle to hit that end point. In those moments, those men are not in control. They are being driven by a primate that they have no jurisdiction over.
This is not news; the prefrontal cortex controls rational thinking and the limbic system the emotional response. Considering we know which one evolved first, is this behaviour primitive? Of course it is. I get it—it’s necessary, all the primitive machismo. And I realise it’s likely I’m borderline evolutionarily defunct. But I don’t yearn. Not like that.
Has it ever occurred to you that all this fury that some men build themselves up to, through both the pursuit of sex and the draw to porn, is utterly bipolar? I mean, I see where it comes from—voices when I cum, all those barbwire emotions—but they drive me away from deviance for the most part. My concern lies more with the ‘nice guys’ who then go home and masturbate furiously in front of their laptops, searching for more ways to combat the increasing desensitisation they feel towards porn. It’s so fucked up. It only creates more subversion and an inevitable rift in their own identities, surely. I might respect them if they were at least honest about the dark thoughts hidden behind their amicable gazes. You only have to watch Ted Bundy’s final interview before he was executed to know how deeply damaging some people’s ‘relationships with pornography’ are. Are they in control of those urges? I will quote Bundy in one of his moments of eerie clarity (to be honest, everyone should watch it—it’s a powerful message): “Listen, I’m no social scientist and I haven’t done a survey. I don’t pretend to know what John Q Citizen thinks about this. But I’ve lived in prison for a long time now, and I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence, just like me. And without exception, every one of them… was deeply involved in pornography…”
I will shoot straight: I really don’t watch porn much—three, maybe four times a year. I look at it more when I’m feeling fucked up. It’s a dark, spiralling spot, but when it happens I immediately recognise it as a maladaptive coping mechanism. Sex occupies a very small portion of my thoughts. I go days/weeks/months without masturbating, and I only ever break this armistice because I feel I ‘should’. It’s important to note, this isn’t repression, or the need to resist anything, or else it would grind my will power down. If that were the case, I would end up divorced from a sense of self and I have no doubt there would be tangible issues.
I can be intellectually seduced by a woman, of that I have no doubt, but not because of any throbbing need. I wish I could show you the look on a woman’s face when we’re both naked and she’s umm-ing and ahh-ing about sex and I tell her I’m genuinely not concerned whether it happens or not. She calls my bluff, we go to sleep, and then she wakes up the next morning—her panic and deliberation over whether I was going to try to pressure her into it having turned into discomfort that I haven’t, confusion because ‘I’m a guy; I want to fuck everything’. It’s always the same. The word for it is powerlessness; I can see it in their eyes.
But out of that actually comes something really nice, something honest. Weirdly, women who ‘hate going down on people’ end up asking me if they can do it, wanting to do it. I bumble and tell them it’s okay, they really don’t have to (partly to spare them the disgust), but the point behind it is nice: they seem much more interested in the ‘giving’ aspect when they’re not preoccupied with the pressure. I also seem to make friends with lesbians like it’s going out of style—they’re awesome and my relationships with them are innocuously simple. I would hazard a guess that when sexual obligation is taken off the table, people suddenly have a vehicle to explore themselves for some kind of self expression, not having to pander to the will of someone else.
It’s not about carrying a selfish checklist with you into every sexual situation you encounter. Behaviour like that screams of the self-interested; it says you are unaffected by the person you are sleeping with. You just need to know they’ll punch you in the balls and let you call them ‘mommy’, and then you can finish? That’s horseshit. Sex is inspiration, and inspiration is based on the individual. I’m simply not motivated to have sex one particular way, and I believe that has a lot to do with my ‘goal’ being a little left of centre. I wait for the moment, listen with precision (you could hear a pin drop) and focus on her movements—and I repeat, explicitly her movements. And then I react. For me, it has to be this way, or else we’re not having a conversation; sex was never designed to be a monologue. Ultimately her satisfaction is my pleasure, not because I’m selfless, but because when all is said and done, at least one of us needs to enjoy the final outcome.