I can't orgasm with a partner

I Can’t Orgasm With My Partner

“Whenever I masturbate (about once a day), I usually orgasm within 5-10 minutes with no problem. However when a partner is giving me a ‘handjob’ or ‘blowjob’ or even having sex with me, I won’t orgasm.”

“I’m not sure if this has anything to do with how often i masturbate, or due to any other reasons. However this problem hasn’t gone away in over a year and can get quite awkward and embarrassing for me. I’m just wondering if you have any idea what the problem is here, or if there’s anything me or my partner can do to help. I’m a 15 year old male.”


Thanks for your excellent question. I think a lot of people will be having the same kind of problem so hopefully my answer will help a lot of people.

I think that you are finding it difficult to orgasm with a partner because it’s a very different kind of sex to solo sex. Sex with a partner is not worse or better than solo sex, it’s just very very different. It’s something that will get easier the more you do it I reckon. Here’s what I think might be happening and I’ll give you some top tips on how to make it less awkward and embarrassing.

What’s different?

For the moment just think about handjobs. I’m going to ask you to think about a time when you had a solo handjob and then a time when you had a handjob with a sex partner. Think of the following prompts for each:

  • What mood were you in before hand?
  • Remember what you might have been able to see, or hear, or smell, or taste, or feel throughout the whole thing.
  • How did it begin?
  • As it progressed, what feelings were you feeling?
  • Can you remember thoughts you were having?
  • How did it end?

One of the major differences of course is that there was a whole other person there. You were also not using your own hand. Maybe it was difficult to focus just on you. Perhaps you wanted the other person to enjoy sex too. Maybe you were thinking about what you could do for them next, or what you had just done for them.

So you can see that the differences between solo sex and partner sex are huge. Like apples and oranges (or peaches). They are both sex, but totally different. Not better or worse, just different. Also, I bet you’ve had a lot more experience with one than the other.

You masturbate pretty much every day and that’s completely chill and very common. It’s not preventing you from enjoying partner sex more, it’s just that you are more used to it. If you’ve masturbated every day for the last year, that would be 365 solo sex sessions. I bet you’ve not had sex with a partner 365 times. I’m not saying you should aim to, I’m just saying that you aren’t as familiar with this kind of sex. So maybe it’s not such a problem?

The problem isn’t you, it’s sex education

Often people’s sexual problems are not really to do with our bodies and more to do with what we are taught about sex. I bet that you have been taught that all males (with penises) were supposed to ejaculate or orgasm every time they have solo or partner sex. Either you learnt this in sex education classes, or TV soaps where sex always leads to an unplanned pregnancy, or from Tyrion Lannister’s orgasm face, or maybe in porn where there is a lot of ejaculation everywhere. What if I told you that sometimes ejaculation and orgasm happen from sex, and sometimes it doesn’t and it’s all chill?

If you think you should always come from sex then it brings in extra anxiety that really won’t help. For the first couple of times you had partner sex maybe you were thinking ‘oh I noticed that I didn’t orgasm that time.’ When did you start to think ‘why am I not orgasming?’ Or ‘what is my [sex partner] thinking?’ If these critical thoughts creep in whenever you have partner sex, it’s going to prevent you from enjoying yourself.

I’m right about this. You don’t have to orgasm or ejaculate every time you have partner sex or solo sex (also orgasm and ejaculation are different). But getting into an argument with yourself about it during sex is not going to help you to enjoy it more.

Try to enjoy sex not achieve something

When I’ve run workshops with adults about this they say that they enjoy sex more when they are in their bodies, rather than thinking about what their bodies should be doing. So is this something you can try? Whenever you’re having a thought about what your body ‘should’ be doing just say ‘oh it’s that thought again, hello.’ And instead of arguing with it or getting frustrated go back to your body and focus on what your senses are telling you.

Crucially, whether you are having solo or partner sex, if you are only focused on the goal of having an orgasm then you are going to find it more difficult to have one. It’s better to try to focus on enjoying the sensations rather than trying to get your body to do something. Orgasm and ejaculation are different but also orgasm and enjoyment are two very different things too. People can enjoy sex without orgasms and can have orgasms and not enjoy sex. Once you become more familiar with partner sex you might find this for yourself too. Often people’s sexiest sexual experiences might not involve an orgasm or they might have been too busy enjoying sex to notice.

I’ve got lots more advice on here that I think you will find helpful. Advice on orgasms, on how to enjoy partner sex more and also about how to enjoy solo sex.

How to make it less awkward and embarrassing

For a start you could have a chat about this with a sex partner when you are not having sex. You could say something like ‘I sometimes orgasm when I have sex and sometimes I don’t. It’s chill, I’m still enjoying myself.’ Feel free to replace the word chill with something that people your age use by the way. Perhaps hip or groovy, you do you.

In the meantime when you have partner sex try not having an orgasm and just see whether you can enjoy sex without trying so hard. Try the advice I gave you above about tuning into your body rather than your thoughts.

If you really just want to orgasm/ejaculate with someone, just so you experience it, you could masturbate yourself with them next to you. Obviously you won’t have seen any porn because you are hitting that ‘EXIT’ button for under 18s, but in porn the male actors are usually having to take matters into their own hands at the end of a scene. Yes that is a euphemism: two actually. Anyway, it’s not cheating to use your hands, it’s not football.

Also sex can be awkward and embarrassing. Honestly I think that if we are doing it right it probably should be a bit awkward and embarrassing. We need to be kind with each other and not take the piss, or hurt someone or shame them. But sometimes sex can be a bit strange, or funny, or cringe and that’s okay. Avoiding this means that we might not be able to talk about what we actually need at that moment, and that is an important conversation to have.

Hope that helps! Here are a few other links you might like.

Sex and the law – just a gentle reminder about under age sex

How to use condoms – which is important

An Educational Guide to Porn – in case you are not hitting the EXIT button

Please leave a (nice) comment below if you like or ask me a question here.

© Justin Hancock, 2024 Find out more about me and BISH here.

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I’ve been a sex and relationships educator since 1999 (with a background in youth and community work). In that time I’ve taught and given advice about sex and relationships with thousands of young people in person and millions online. I’ve worked with many charities, local governments, schools and youth organisations facilitating training and workshops. My two books, Enjoy Sex (How, When, and If You Want To) and Can We Talk About Consent? are widely available around the world. I’ve been on the telly and the radio and have written articles for newspapers and magazines. I’m also a member of the World Association for Sexual Health. Read more about me and BISH here. Find out about my other work here Justin Hancock

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