Let’s say we were playing Twister. Just you and me. Pretend there was alcohol involved if that helps explain why we’re playing. If you’ve ever played Twister before, you know that while it’s harder than it looks, it’s good for a great many giggles and even some not-so-subtle flirting.
Now pretend that we were in fact playing Twister at some sort of National Twister Tournament, with the winner receiving a fleet of Ferrari’s and a house in Beverly Hills. The game would be much different. I’d carefully place my limbs to try to trip you up, you’d cry foul if my hand strayed from its dot for even a moment and there would be no laughter, just teeth gritted in concentration. It would not be fun. Not at all.
Rewards and prizes encourage people to perform certain activities. However, if the activity was enjoyable to begin with, a reward can make it feel less like fun and more like work.
One of the greatest rewards, the reward that ensured that all of us were alive today, is of course, the orgasm. For men anyway, the orgasm acts as a pat on the back. “You just possibly impregnated someone!” it says, “Here’s some euphoria.” Possible impregnation is quite good for the future of the species and though the female orgasm isn’t as well understood, it also acts as a reward for having sex. As anyone who’s experienced an orgasm can attest, if something causes it, you will absolutely keep doing that thing.
While this is very good for our (potential) offspring, reproduction is no longer the only benefit humans get out of sex. Even before orgasm, sex not only feels good, but in some circumstances can be a beautiful expression of love, blah, blah, blah. The trouble is that orgasm is so enjoyable that it tends to overshadow these other, perfectly pleasant feelings.
Orgasm is hardly the only pleasant part of sex, and is actually unnecessary if you aren’t actually trying to get pregnant. I am not for a minute saying that an orgasm is a bad thing. I do think that it is definitely not the only thing to worry about during sex.
Obsession with a reward can take the fun out of a game. That’s what happened with our Twister game, and it definitely can do the same thing to sex. Two people will keep having sex, persisting long past any real enjoyment, devoted to obtaining their prize. To make matters worse, the more they stress and worry about reaching orgasm, the less likely it is to happen in the first place. Orgasm will be more likely and more enjoyable if you try again when you’re more relaxed and in the mood.
It seems much healthier to approach sex with an open mind. If you realize that you will survive, and even enjoy yourself, whether or not you have an orgasm, then that takes a lot of the pressure off, making one more likely in the first place.
While the orgasm is theoretically the greatest reward, it is not the only reason you are having sex. If sex was as enjoyable as peeling potatoes, then yes, an orgasm would be pretty much the only thing that would make the task worthwhile. But sex is intrinsically enjoyable, beginning, middle and end, and each of these parts should be enjoyed and appreciated.
It’s not the end of the world if your sex doesn’t conclude with an orgasm. You were still having sex, after all.