Illustrations by Joel Benjamin

Help! I Found an SSRI That Works, but Now I Can't Cum

Advice from So Sad Today.

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Feb 16 2018, 6:07pm

Illustrations by Joel Benjamin

Dear So Sad Today,

I’ve finally found an SSRI that seems to be working. It hasn’t cured me of depression completely or anything, but it makes the lows so much less lower. I find that I don’t get stuck there anymore, which is cool. It took me many different tries with many different medications to find one that worked, and I am relieved that at least something works for me. Finally!!

But here is the problem. I feel like one of the side effects of this medication is that it makes it really hard for me to cum with my partner (fyi, I’m a hetero cis woman). This happened to me with some of the other meds I’ve taken, but I didn’t care about going off of those, because they weren’t effective. But now I’m like: Fuck, what should I do? I really value my sex life. But I don’t want to stop taking a treatment that works. Also, weirdly, I can still cum when I’m by myself (it takes longer)—just not with my partner. Any advice?

Sincerely,

Challenged

Dear Challenged,

I totally feel you. Before I was on an SSRI, I was already slow to boil. But on SSRIs it’s like, OK, if you start going down on me now I might cum by next May.

I think part of this is due to what the SSRI does to my brain chemistry. But I’ve also noticed that I, like you, have a lot easier of a time masturbating to orgasm myself than having one with a partner. This leads me to believe that some of the problem is also a case of performance anxiety. Like, somewhere along the way, I internalized that it takes me a long time to have an orgasm and judged that as something terrible. And so, I feel stressed about it, rushed, pressured, as though I’m just going through the motions to see if I can. It’s not exactly a sexy feeling.

One thing that has helped is for me to let my partner know, in advance, that it might take me a while. Even before I took SSRIs, I was self-conscious of how long I took. As a teen I faked orgasms all the time. In my early 20s, I stopped faking, but I would always say, “Am I taking too long? Am I taking too long?” I had one partner say, “Do you want me to wear a visor while I’m down there that says, “You aren’t taking too long!” Actually? Yes! I find that once I have the assurance from my partner that I can take as much time as I need, I don’t feel so freaked out about the length of the journey. Not only is it easier for me to cum, but I actually enjoy the journey itself more.

Another thing that helps me is to incorporate vibrators into my sex life. Let’s be honest, no human flesh can replicate the speed, precision, or control with which one’s favorite vibrator does the job. I recently got the Womanizer, which I like, but my favorite is the Magic Wand. Is it huge? Yes. Unwieldy during sex? You bet. But do I cum every fucking time—a big, long, body-shaking orgasm? Uh huh. I call the Magic Wand “Mariano” after Mariano Rivera, the Yankees closing pitcher who could always be counted on to finish a game perfectly. Just knowing that Mariano will be coming in when I need him helps me feel much more relaxed about the whole experience.

Now, not everyone wants to use a giant vibrator during sex. Perhaps you’ll find that you prefer a pocket rocket. But calling in for reinforcement, knowing you have it ready in the bullpen, is never a bad idea. And if you feel weird bringing in a vibrator with a new partner, try masturbating to the brink of orgasm before you get together—and then have them be the closing pitcher.

xo

SST

Dear So Sad Today,

I feel like my therapist isn’t really helping me anymore. Actually I’m not sure if she was ever that good. But she is super nice, and I’m scared to break up with her. This sounds crazy, but I don’t want to hurt her feelings or for her to be mad at me. Also, I’m scared to be on my own. I know what I have to do. But how do I do it?

Thanks,

Perfect Patient

Dear Perfect Patient,

I totally identify. I once had a crappy therapist for seven years, because I was afraid to break up with her. She would literally say things like “what if you eat a hardboiled egg” and “put calamine lotion on the zit” when I tried to discuss my eating disorder and body dysmorphia. I wanted to be like, “Girl, it’s not about the zit—it’s about my feelings about myself as a grandiose reaction to the zit.” But I never did, because it seemed easier to just accept the bad help than confront her. In the end, I had to move 3,000 miles away just to make the final cut.

An interesting lesson in our reticence to break up with a therapist is that it often reflects the way we are in our other relationships. For me, it illustrates a fear of saying no, of not being liked, of scarcity (that if I say no or end something, there won’t be anyone else left for me and I’ll have regrets), of self-centeredness (as though I’m her only client and have that much impact on her life), and also, a fear of confrontation.

Also, I’m wondering if you have offered your therapist any feedback on your relationship. Have you given her a chance to do things differently? Sometimes I’ll just be smiling along and then, when I end things, the person is surprised, because I never spoke up.

If you have spoken up and nothing has changed, it’s time for the breakup. While the ideal breakup is clean, honest, and without “cheating,” let’s be real. It’s a lot easier to break up with someone when we’ve fallen for someone else. It might make you feel more comfortable to go “shopping” for a new therapist and see what’s out there before you make the final cut. A therapist (or partner) probably wouldn’t recommend this. But who of us is graceful in our exits all the time?

Also, remember that despite the relationship metaphor I’ve just used, your therapist is supposed to be a professional. The best therapists I’ve had understood this. They didn’t take an ending personally. They wished me well and left the door open. They wanted me to get my needs met. If she takes it personally, it’s likely more about her than it is about you.

It’s also important for you to remember that despite the emotional quality of the interaction, it’s ultimately medical care. If you were unhappy with your podiatrist and felt that you weren’t getting the care you needed, you’d find another one. Treat this like podiatry.

xo

SST

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