QUEER VOICES
05/06/2014 01:45 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Pace University's Sex And Dating Study Looks At Orgasm Etiquette

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Note: Huffington Post Gay Voices is a media sponsor for Pace University and ProofPilot's study, "How We Date, Have Sex, and Form Relationships Today." This is the fifth report from this study and is from Tyrel Starks, assistant professor of Psychology at Pace University, and Julia Bassiri, a research assistant at Pace University. It focuses on orgasm etiquette.

Thank you, readers of The Huffington Post for participating in our study with ProofPilot called "How We Date, Have Sex, and Form Relationships Today." Our main goal of researching this topic is to dispel some of the myths and stereotypes between the dating habits of the LGBTQ community and heterosexuals. The report below comes from data collected from the fourth week of our six-week study, and is entitled Orgasm Etiquette.

The “O,” Baby! The O and all that cums with it -- that’s what it’s all about. Two bodies and the one well of pleasure found in each other; worked toward together, experienced together -- achieved, together: the Orgasm. But then what happens when it’s not…achieved…together? Does the hankering for reciprocation cut into one’s sexual satisfaction? Or perhaps a partner’s enjoyment is enough to satiate the yet-to-finish half such that he (or she) willingly forgoes the main course. That’s proper orgasm etiquette, right?

Well, that’s what we wanted to know. Because while the research shows that couples who climax together tend to have higher relationship and sexual satisfaction, the reality exists that couples’ primal calls are not always in sync. Thus, Orgasm Etiquette: a sophisticated term for partners’ preferences regarding who cums first in the striving for that which is supposedly second best to the shared O (the solo Ohhh!). The concept may seem a little overly polite, on the verge of shy, even, but it is nonetheless considered in (and outside of) the bedroom. But before we dive right into the data, let’s do a quick and dirty explication of the orgasm -- a healthy review.

The sex research says that men and women experience orgasm much in the same way. The physiological process of sexual arousal follows a delightfully routine order, not too unlike the water cycle (If the image of a cloud, saturated, on the brink, waiting to burst with raindrops in the full drama of a storm comes to mind here, embrace it as you read this next section).

There is an excitement phase, in which the genitals become engorged with blood; a semi-ironic plateau phase during which there is the oh-so-titillating increase in arousal; the—ta-da! orgasm moment(s), characterized by rhythmic muscular contraction and intense pleasure; and (whew!) a resolution phase in which genitals return to their pre-arousal calm. For men though, this calm is actually called the “refractory period,” during which orgasm is highly unlikely and even light play can be less than pleasurable. Women undergo no such period, however, and are free to cum and cum and cum again should their bodies comply.

Now that we’re all reacquainted with the science, let’s return to our point of interest: the etiquette of it all. According to our dedicated study participants -- a group of men and women, most of whom are attracted to men -- mutual orgasm is ideal, which makes sense. Cumming together would understandably be preferred in the unity that it brings, but let’s be frank: it also avoids the situation in which one satisfied partner still has to, effectively, finish the job. Regardless, here’s where the data differs; the second most preferred scenario (after mutual orgasm) indicates that women would rather cum before their partners, while men report wanting to finish in second. This difference though, might simply trace back to the sheer differences in the sexes’ physiological experiences. Why cum before your partner if it means you’re (potentially) out of the game sooner?

So in a written attempt to finish on a pleasurable note for all, here’s an encouraging last bit of data from our respondents: regardless of who gets there first, men and women see it as equally important for both partners to achieve orgasm. And that’s the key -- reciprocity! Which simply translates to staying meaningfully engaged, even if you get there first. And, likewise, if your partner beats you to it, don’t give up on your own satisfaction. It might still be important to him or her that you join in the flush-cheeked, earth-shattering experience that is orgasm.

Brody, S. & Weiss, P. (2011). Simultaneous penile-vaginal intercourse orgasm is associated with satisfaction (sexual, life, partnership and mental health). Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8, 734-741. Masters, W.H. & Johnson, V.E. (1966). Human sexual response. Boston: Little, Brown.

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