If you read a lot of romance novels or have managed to catch a fleeting glimpse of sex on TV or have watched scrambled porn late at night, you know that when people have sex, they’re supposed to come at the end. Man and women, two men, two women, whatever combination of two (or more) people you desire: sex means orgasm. That’s the pinnacle of sex. It’s the goal. It’s sort of the point. You want to get off, and ideally, you want to get off at approximately the same time as your partner. There’s a beauty in that, a sharing, something more than just banging.
Except when it doesn’t work that way. Because I don’t have that anymore. My husband can’t get me off at all.
It’s pointless to talk about everything we’ve tried. Just trust me: we’ve tried everything. But I’m on a lot of meds, many with sexual side effects, and that means orgasms take a long, long time in absolutely optimal circumstances. By “optimal circumstances,” I mean I don’t get off without the perfect vibrator (I’ve been through nearly a dozen trying to find one that works) that provides exactly the right amount of stimulation in exactly the right place. Even then, it can take such an amazingly long time that it’s generally not worth it — as in, literally, I don’t have time in the day or night to get off, because it takes too goddamn long. Like, at least an hour. At least.
Mouths, hands, and other appendages need not apply. They won’t do the job. Forget that I can’t get off during sex. My husband can’t get me off at all.
Let that sink in.
If I have an orgasm, it’s because I did it myself. That’s the only time I get off, and it’s likely to be the only time I ever will. Don’t tell me that my husband should hold the vibrator. Even when I show him where to put it, it ends up moving, and that turns those circumstances into “not optimal” territory. Don’t tell me that my husband should do other things to me while I use the vibrator. It changes the topography down there, making circumstances — you got it — not optimal. I can’t get off from anything but a vibrator, and that means there’s always some kind of machine involved. Even if I do it myself until I’m almost there and we have sex and I, for once, miraculously manage to orgasm during (this has admittedly happened about twice), it took me forever to manage it, and it wasn’t very good.
We don’t bother anymore. He doesn’t even offer most of the time, and if he does, it’s perfunctory. “You sure you don’t want me to try?” he’ll say. No. I do not want him to try to do something as fruitless as building a ladder to the moon. I simply will not get off. It’ll be an exercise in frustration for both of us. So I tell him no.
We still have sex. I still mostly enjoy sex. Sex just doesn’t have … a logical end, and I’m easily bored. Because I won’t get off, I don’t have that goal to reach for. If something hurts even a little, or I just sort of fall out of the mood, or it’s taking him too long, I’m done. Sex also makes me feel stupid and broken sometimes, usually without warning. For all these reasons, I tend to avoid it. You know how when you want to have sex, you seek out your partner? I don’t. It’s too much trouble. I have sex as a conscious intellectual choice.
We still have a good deal of sex. It does, after all, feel good, even if I won’t actually get off. I’m just left oddly hollow, unfulfilled, unfinished. Sometimes I spend that hour afterwards with my vibrator. Usually I don’t, because who has time to use a vibrator for an hour?! But I don’t reach for my husband the way I used to earlier in our relationship. He’s hotter but I don’t want to have sex with him the way I did before. I won’t get off. To be blunt, other than making him happy and some kind of togetherness which may or may not leave me feeling broken, there isn’t a reason to have sex with him.
At least he knows I’m not going to cheat. There’s no reason to do that, either.
We fight about it sometimes. He wants me to at least try to get off. I tell him that it isn’t worth the time, that it won’t work anyway, that I don’t want to spend an hour engaged in a fruitless activity that will leave me feeling stupid at the end of it. So we don’t try. When he finishes, sometimes I’m glad he’s done because it’s over, and sometimes I wish he took longer because it felt good, but either way, it’s finished. We clean up and go to sleep.
Sometimes I might decide I don’t want to have sex because I won’t get off, and he gets angry, saying he wishes I’d at least let him try. I used to let him try. I remind him that I used to let him try, and it didn’t work, and I felt stupid after an hour and guilty that his hand/mouth/other appendage was on the verge of a repetitive motion injury.
I don’t lie there and think of England, but I don’t love sex the way I used to.
That sucks. The ability to have sex with someone and get off always seems to be some sort of basic human right. Instead, it’s one more thing my mental illness has taken from me. I love my husband. But if he told me we could never have sex again, I’d be sad, but I wouldn’t yell or scream or throw a tantrum. I’d make a joke about how angry I’d be if he took my vibrator, but it’s too sad. I desperately miss non-mechanical sex, and even the very best of outcomes requires a machine’s help.
Don’t bother with the suggestions. We’ve tried them. Don’t tell me this is my fault because I’ve lost hope in it; that’s victim-blaming. Don’t tell me to switch meds; those meds keep me alive. Until they make Viagra for women, I’m metaphorically fucked.
Well, mechanically fucked, really.
Or not fucked at all.
This article was originally published on