This week, we’ll be addressing a reader-submitted question regarding masturbation. “I have no problems cumming when I masturbate. But when I am with a guy or my boyfriend, it seems to take forever to cum.”

Let’s get one thing straight, this is completely normal and common.  Having difficulties reaching orgasm affects many men and women, and these difficulties range from self-play to partnered sexual activities.  There are also a few things that can hinder your ability to reach orgasm with a partner.  The following will address more common causes as well as some helpful tips to help you become more orgasmic.

One of the most common reasons behind situational arousal and orgasm problems is the way in which we masturbate. That is not to say that one can masturbate too much or the wrong way.  What this means is that if we train and condition ourselves to orgasm by using the same masturbation techniques each time, it may hinder our ability to get off with another person.  Further, if you are accustomed to masturbating with or without lubrication, the new sensations can be unfamiliar, diminishing your ability to derive pleasure.

What’s the solution? Try new things by yourself.  If your standard is to masturbate with your right hand, try using your left.  Try a different stroke or focus on a different part of your penis or vulva.  If you are used to a really wet masturbatory experience, try using different amounts of lubricant or none at all.  Trying new things alone can help your brain and body to respond to different forms of stimulation.

Another reason orgasm may be difficult with another person may be the lack of communication of what turns you on and how you like to be pleasured.  While it may be true that no one can do you quite like yourself, it is also true that nothing is quite like someone else getting you off.  It’s been said many times before and it’ll be said again. Letting your partner watch you masturbate is one of the hottest and informative things you can do.  Not only is it hot for your partner to watch you please yourself, having him or her learn how you like to be touched will only help him or her to get you off!  This activity is often hard for people to do as masturbation is typically a very private activity and letting another in can leave you feeling vulnerable.  However, feeling vulnerable within a safe environment can up the erotic feelings.

Thirdly, your comfort levels with the other person can dictate your ability to get off with another person.  A sort of performance anxiety can set it, ranging from having sex with a new partner, wanting to pull out all of the stops, or just trying to figure out the ebb and flow of each other.  Anxiety of any kind is a libido-killer.  The solution? Get to know each other.  Have a frank discussion about your expectations regarding your roll between the sheets. Discuss how you like to be touched, what will turn you off, and what turns you on.  The more comfortable you are with another person, the easier getting off can be.

Finally, and this one is important: the focus of orgasm as the purpose of sexual activity.  If orgasms with another person is difficult for you or your partner, perhaps the pressure to cum is ruining the experience.  If you are in a relationship and one or both of you are having orgasm difficulties, thinking too much and becoming too stressed about the situation can result in a dangerous cycle.  Start redefining the purpose of the sex you and your partner are having.  Revel in shared experience of being with another person.

If you’ve tried all of these solutions, or something just doesn’t seem right, seek out professional help from someone who is certified and knowledgeable about sexual health matters.  Remember, though, that you are not alone, and there are things you (and your partner) can do to help relieve some tension.  And if those solutions don’t work, there are a myriad of resources willing and able to help you!