BEAR IN MIND

ADVICE from
MAX VERGA
BENT's own Bear

Everybody knows what bears do in the woods—they sit around telling each other their life's stories and giving one another advice. What else would those big, hairy beasts do when they get together for their Teddy Bear Picnics?

Inspired by the wisdom of my fellow growlers, I'm here to give advice, when asked. So, if any of you have questions you'd like answered by someone who's been around the block a couple of times, please send them to Bear@bentvoices.org.

And in case you're worried that you might have to censor your thoughts, please remember that my walks around the block were often done while dressed in kinkwear and with a thought or two about who I might encounter along the way.

So let me know what's on your mind. If it's a Big Unanswered Question (or even a little one), let me have a crack at it. It is, after all, what bears do best.

.

"Coming on Time"

Dear Max,

My boyfriend takes a long time to come. Sometimes he tries for 15 minutes or longer. He has CP and therefore finds it very hard to relax his muscles. He feels very frustrated if he can't perform because he worries that I'll think it's my fault. l try to say it does not matter as our love for each other can overcome this and l also tell him that if and when he comes it will be wonderful, but this is not the same as performing on demand. It doesn't help if I try to help him. He is 37 years old. My partner has asked me to email you because he does not have access to email.

Worried
UK

Dear Worried,

Let me say first off that I do not claim to give anything that remotely resembles clinical advice. To the extent that your partner is suffering from problems that are essentially physiological, he needs to seek sound medical advice, preferably from someone who specializes in sexuality and disability.

Concerns about physically-based sexual difficulties, however, can manifest themselves psychologically. That's one reason it's so important to understand the basic mechanics and how disability may influence them in your case. The fact that you both are questioning who is at "fault" is understandable. The outward manifestations of CP are hard enough for someone to deal with. Worry about being able to achieve orgasm would be daunting for any man, let alone one already living with a body that works differently than most. But don't get tangled up in the "blame game."

Needing to relax the mind or the muscles in order to reach orgasm at your own pace is certainly not a concern limited to people with disabilities. Anyhow, what's the rush? It was Mae West who sang, "A guy what takes his time, I go for anytime. I'm a fast moving gal, I like it slow. Got no use for fancy driving, want to see a guy arriving in low." Okay, so maybe a languid pace doesn't have the same appeal when your lover is trying to cap off the night's entertainment aware that you are already finished and he still has fifteen minutes to go. You didn't say if you are usually the first to shoot. If so, your lover might feel anxious and guilty for keeping you active well after the point where your body is coming down from a sexual high.

If you are a quick shooter, then delaying your own orgasm until after his might relieve some of the tension. Either way, it seems like his will not be a quick and easy climax, a situation which might require some imaginative manipulation on your part.

Being a slow shooter myself, I am well aware that I might often be left holding the bag, or other parts. A good partner will know what gets me off and will do that little thing to bring about the inevitable. For me, it's tit play or a man with a wonderfully filthy mouth. Find out what drives your lover crazy, do it, and see if that will bring about a quicker release. Or simply relax into the realization that you will not only have foreplay, you will have afterplay. Try massaging the back of his neck to help relax him. Whisper some filth softly into his ear while you tweak his nipples. Try some foot play if he's not ticklish. You would be amazed how relaxed a man can get when he's staring down at you working on his feet with your hands or mouth. Whatever you do, do it because you are enjoying it yourself. Your pleasure might just help relax him to the point where he will give up his seed in record time.

But technique aside, remember that orgasm is only one very small and brief part of sex. I know that most men don't want to hear this. Years ago I went with a man who never climaxed when we had sex, even though nothing physiological prevented it. He later told me that he would have mental climaxes, something I never doubted once I experienced them myself with him. For some men with disabilities, this is the only kind of orgasm possible. But I have also been with men with CP and have experienced a wide range of erectile/climax variations, from nonexistent to nothing different than most mens' ability to get hard and achieve orgasm. Both ends of the spectrum were satisfying to me and apparently to my partners. I think a good part of the satisfaction resulted from knowing that my partner might not provide the "big bang" except in his own mind and, therefore, in mine.

Most of us entertain sexual expectations. Sometimes those expectations need to be rethought in light of physical impairments. It would have been wonderful if your boyfriend had been able to tell you early on that he might experience difficulty in achieving orgasm and that you should not blame yourself, but that kind of candor is not easy. The fact that he is now comfortable enough to tell you that he has trouble relaxing his muscles is a good sign. There's no guarantee that any of the techniques you try will make a great difference physically. But you can both change that fifteen minutes of anxiety into a time when you hold him tightly or caress him gently, tell him how much he turns you on, suck on parts that most men in a rush to get their rocks off ignore, and let him know that time spent helping him reach a climax is not time wasted but is perhaps the most intimate time in your relationship.

Whatever feelings he might have about his body and your need to make sexual accommodations for it, you should help him understand that it's his body that you want to hold and enjoy

Max

[Because this question first came up in Disgaytalk,
we're pleased to be able to supplement Max's response with some advice from a fellow CP reader. -ed.]

It occurs to me that a lot of nondisabled boyfriends probably have exactly the same problem. I'm not sure what kind of help or advice you're hoping for, so 'll just share my first reaction as another 37-year-old guy with CP.

As for CP and sex, I find that it is indeed hard to relax my muscles, especially during sex. But in my experience, it doesn't at all affect the ease or difficulty of coming. That's a very situational issue for me. I do find that when I'm touched, I tense up, and I get self-conscious because I fear that this involuntary response sends the wrong message. I also tense up a lot and sometimes spasm when I come, and I know my boyfriend's afraid of hurting me then (really, it doesn't hurt!).

I don't think that taking 15 minutes to come is particularly off the end of the curve either, disability aside. Perhaps you've just got to get to the point where the sex isn't about the coming. Perhaps you can learn to enjoy the fact that it can be more about the fun you have getting there. Many people would give their eyeteeth to make it last 15 minutes, or even an hour. But your boyfriend's self-consciousness about this may be rooted in a host of self-image issues.

My advice is just to try to enjoy yourself and let him feel how much you enjoy being with him. Don't feel that you can or should personally cure any fears or insecurities he may have. I guess I'm just at a point where I've learned that it's better to build on the positive (strengths, happiness, etc.) rather than to dwell on the negative (weaknesses, fears, etc.).

If you still insist on speeding your sex along, I recommend avoiding too much additional, intense stimulation. Contractions may only increase. Instead, try to prime the pump with foreplay, porn, or other things you like. Those may speed things up too, but without spastic reactions. Just my 2 cents. Ignore it if it doesn't feel right for you.

© 2002 Max Verga

 

MAX VERGA has been an activist ever since getting a call from a friend reporting that he'd been in a riot at the Stonewall Bar only hours before. He began his activism with the West Side Discussion Group, later became involved with its offshoot theater group, and was one of the founders of Mainstream, a gay-disabled group. For more about Max, see his longer biography.

 

BENT: A Journal of CripGay Voices/January 2002