Running Along the Cliff: The Plateau Phase

This piece discusses my personal sex life in some detail. Family members and others who don’t want to read about that, please don’t read this one.

This is about finding a silver lining in a cloud.

Actually, it’s about finding a big, fat vein of silver in a cloud.

In recent years, as I’ve gotten older and my body has changed, I’ve been having a harder time coming. I sometimes get stuck in the pre-orgasmic “plateau” phase of sexual arousal, and it’s harder than it used to be to push out of that and push my body over the cliff and into freefall. It always happens eventually — with the help of my trusty vibrator if nothing else — but it often takes longer than it used to, and it’s rather less reliable. I never know when it’s going to come easily, and when it’s going to kick up a fuss.

This has been, as you might expect, a source of some irritation. For many years, coming was easy as pie for me. Given a reasonably attentive partner, I could generally come within a few minutes of feeling it on the horizon. And when I was my own partner, “a few minutes” was more like “a few seconds.” If I wanted to draw a sexual experience out (alone or accompanied) and delay my orgasm to make it more intense, I had to make a conscious effort. So over the years, I got very used to being able to come more or less on demand. And when orgasms started becoming more elusive, it was a little frustrating: partly because I liked thinking of myself as easy to please, and partly for the obvious reasons.

I’ve come up with a number of strategies for dealing with this. Among other things, I’ve been exploring different kinds of sensation, re-discovering what my changing body does and doesn’t like. But there’s one strategy in particular that I’m finding especially compelling. And since I know I’m not the only person — especially the only woman — who’s dealing with this situation, I thought I’d share it with the rest of the class.

It’s the strategy of not worrying about it.


Thus begins my latest piece on the Blowfish Blog, Running Along the Cliff: The Plateau Phase. To find out how not worrying about coming has shifted the way I feel about sex — and how it’s opened up a huge new realm of sexual pleasures — read the rest of the piece. (And if you feel inspired to comment here, please consider cross-posting your comment to the Blowfish Blog — they like comments there, too.) Enjoy!

Running Along the Cliff: The Plateau Phase
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3 thoughts on “Running Along the Cliff: The Plateau Phase

  1. Jen

    I think your advice is good for anyone even if they don’t have trouble coming. The other day me and my boyfriend were having sex and when my boyfriend finished, I realized that I hadn’t come. And then I realized that it didn’t really matter. All I could think about was how nice it was to feel his arms around me. It wasn’t a mind blowing OMG that was the best sex in my life, it felt like I had stepped off the roller coaster we call life and had a little bit of time to just relax. To truly be with someone can be a wonderful thing. And if you feel like every display of intimacy between you and your lover must lead to orgasms. You will miss out on some very nice times you could have together.

  2. 2

    As someone on the other side of the fence (I just don’t come during sex, never have, and it takes a concentrated effort sometimes even on my own), I understand the not worrying thing.
    I must admit orgasm is still important to me. Orgasm with my partner isn’t ever a must, though.
    I’m lucky in that my wife understands this. She still works at pleasing me (she’s great at it, after all), but she knows it’s OK for her to be done. If we went until I was done all the time, it would be determental to her insides, and thus our sex life.
    As you might imagine, though, several years of this pattern without complete release can lead to troublesome levels of unrequited lust, and that’s not easy for either partner to deal with. Not that I’ve gone these years without coming, far from it, but just as some feel stupidly guilty for not coming, I felt that way for actually doing it without her. It worried me; I snuck around, masturbating in secret. I didn’t hide the fact that I was doing it, but I never did it while she was around. I knew she felt bad about my not getting off.
    Not worrying has been phenomenal. Her learning to not worry has helped me to do the same. I have taken ownership of my needs in a way that I was previously unwilling to do, and it has made me a more stable and happy individual. We joke about my lasting forever now, and I’ve even heard her brag about me to her friends. The point is, though, if we were both still panicking, we wouldn’t be this at peace with eachother either. Sex is meant to be enjoyable, and it is, especially when you don’t go into it expecting.

  3. 3

    As someone who didn’t have her first recognizable orgasm until after 30 (I’m 38 now), I’m still kind of possessive about having them and get pissed when I don’t. Talk about pressure (for both of us)….and while I subscribe to the “don’t worry” part, it’s kind of like trying to not think about the pink elephant in the corner of the room. I even skipped the sex parts of books I read because I really couldn’t understand and thought it was all just the author’s hyperbole and wanted to get on to the plot of the story. Needless to say, porn in any form was simply annoying.
    I was so freaking jealous about hubby having them so seemingly easily and no matter what he/I did to what for however long nothing seemed to seriously make a difference and I never saw the “stars of orgasm” until after I turned 30. I would get so frustrated I would end up in tears. Not fun for anyone.
    The first orgasm though came (no pun intended) after I had attended my first “girls only” party and purchased a couple of beginner vibrator toys. I figured “what the hell” and they could be conversation pieces if nothing else. After the initial weird feelings were over – hubby and I gave them a try and I thought I had come apart at the seams and come back to life slightly rearranged. I actually asked was that what I was supposed to have been feeling all along?
    It’s still work for me to have an orgasm and I’m rather possessive and demanding about having them – but at least now I know what I”m shooting for. 😀

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