The Rumpus Advice Column: “Do you think it’s possible that maybe all of my friend’s vaginas are confused by multiple partners?”


Dear Sugar,

I recently learned that a friend of mine is not able to orgasm because she was abused as a child. This made sense to me so I didn’t think much of it. When another friend confided in me that she’s only had one orgasm in the eight years of being with the same partner, I questioned if perhaps her and her boyfriend are not sexually compatible. You see after six months of intimacy with my husband, I orgasm every single time (unless he has to stop just as I’m about to orgasm because it’s not a safe time during the month and we don’t want to get pregnant)and we’ve been together for almost six years so I know it’s not because we’re still in the “honeymoon phase.” In fact, in the last two years I’ve started to experience multiple orgasms so it’s only getting better with time. I just assumed that once a couple learns how to bond physically, their bodies adapt to one another and become in tune with one another (whenever I start to climax so does my husband, and whenever he holds back, it prevents me from going, so our bodies have kind of learned to go together at the same time).

Anyway, that same friend told me that my situation was not the norm, and so I began to ask other friends about their frequency of orgasms. I was shocked to learn that it appears that I am the freak. None of them orgasm regularly, some never have, and some think they might have come close a few times but aren’t sure. One friend suggested that maybe I’m more wired like a man, because only men orgasm every time. I don’t think I’m wired like a man. I’m very girly. I’ve never masterbated [sic]. I’m not an especially horny person. I’ve only ever had sex with my husband and we don’t watch pornography movies or use sex toys. We don’t even experiment with many different positions – just very good traditional sex. Do you think it’s possible that maybe all of my friend’s vaginas are confused by multiple partners, toys, oral/anal and all these other stimulants that make it difficult for their bodies to know what they are suppose to respond to in order to orgasm? I’d like to believe that I climax with my husband because I’m making love to my soul mate, but maybe my sexuality is abnormal? I’d appreciate your thoughts on this orgasm issue that just baffles me!

Thanks so much,
Too Sexually Satisfied For A Woman

P.S. The group of friends I referred to are between the ages of 25 and 34 if that makes any difference. I have heard that women are supposed to reach their sexual peak at something like 40…I’m 26 so maybe I reached mine too soon and my girlfriends just need more time?


Dear Too Satisfied,

I’m not sure what you’re asking me. Your letter is full of self-congratulation masquerading as earnest inquiry. You seem to want to announce to the world both your moral rectitude and your wondercooch.
But okay, if you’re honestly curious about the mechanics of female pleasure, there’s plenty of data out there. Start with the Kinsey Report. It will inform you that there are all sorts of women, of all ages, who orgasm easily and repeatedly, and others who have trouble reaching climax.

Let me allow the wonderful author Mary Gordon to elaborate here. This excerpt is lifted from her novel Spending:

He put his head between my legs, nuzzling at first. His beard was a little rough on the insides of my thighs. Then with his lips, then his tongue, he struck fire. I had to cry out in astonishment, in gratitude at being touched in that right place. Somehow, it always makes me grateful when a man finds the right place, maybe because when I was young so many of them kept finding the wrong place, or a series of wrong places, or no place at all. That strange feeling: gratitude and hunger. My hunger was being teased. It also felt like a punishment. I kept thinking of the word “thrum,” a cross between a throb and hum. I saw a flame trying to catch; I heard it, there was something I was after, something I was trying to achieve, and there was always the danger that I’d miss it, I wouldn’t find it, or get hold of it. The terrible moment when you’re afraid you won’t, you’ll lose it, it won’t work, you won’t work, it is unworkable and you are very, very desperate. At the same time, you want to stay in this place of desperation… at the same time, you’re saying to yourself, you’re almost there, you’re almost there, you can’t possibly lose it now, keep on, keep on a bit longer, you are nearly there, I know it, don’t give up, you cannot lose it. Then suddenly you’re there.

I hope this clears some things up, though in your case I tend to doubt it will. It’s a complicated business, and comparison games of the sort you’re promoting only make matters worse.

One place where you may be on to something, though: the multiple partners and toys and “stimulants” do suggest a confusion – but of the heart, not the loins.

P.S. “Masturbate.” Whether or not you ever did it, please spell it correctly.

Dear Sugar,

A neighbor friend of mine recently turned 40 and had two affairs (one short, one lasting) with co-workers. I told her it was a mistake, that she might fall in love with the long-term guy and then be in real trouble and have to make a Decision. The affair has gone on for almost a year and she now says she’s in love. Long-term guy is fucking her and (at least) another married woman. You
should also know:

*She has two young kids at home

*Her husband is a sourpuss, and she comes home from working her ass off to find him playing Webkinz on the couch.

*They don’t have enough money to get divorced (she believes)

*She’s in therapy

*She wants my advice on what to do

And, of course,

*We live in the suburbs.

What should I tell her, Sugar, if anything?

Friend to Mid-Life Mamma


Dear Friend,

OMG, do you live on Peyton Place, too? Seriously: how is it that you know all this stuff? And how does it bear on YOUR life? That’s what I’d be asking, if I were in your particular quasi-pickle. Because – bottom line – your neighbor/friend/whatever is clearly lost, and in a way that transcends whatever you might tell her, no matter how well crafted or intended. I saw a lot of this in Coffee Creek, back when I was serving time for unnamed crimes. There’d be some big tough broad sauntering across the yard and the next thing I knew she was laying her cheek on my lap and blubbering about her man and her other man and her little ones and she had this offer from the state if she would give up custody of the little ones but how could she do that, especially when their auntie was a skank addict who only took them in for their social security payments? And I’m listening to all this, thinking, ‘What the fuck can I tell you that you don’t know, and have chosen to disregard, already?’

It’s unclear to me whether you have a family, Friend. But if you do, spend your time and empathy on them. If you want to give your troubled comrade a little dose of truth, or Christian mercy, go right ahead. But don’t get snagged in an emotional rubbernecking scenario. The world already has enough Reality TV programming, without your adding to the burden.
And if this sounds a tad brutal, remind yourself that she’s got a therapist on the payroll, allegedly helping her sort out the mess she’s made. It’s not like she’s without the capacity for informed decision making. The ultimate question is whether she can face the truth of who she is. She’s on her own for that one, as are we all.


Dear Sugar,

What does “que sera sera” mean?

A Quick Questioner


Dear Quick,
It’s Esperanto for “find a dictionary, dude.”