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andrea@altsexcolumn.com

Dear Andrea:

I'm getting superfrustrated. I don't have the highest sex drive, but it is there. However, I can't understand why my brain and my body tell me I want to do something that inevitably makes me uncomfortable and unhappy. Even with lube, sex leaves me sore for hours. I try to just give my boyfriend blow jobs so I can avoid having to have sex. I'm 21 and have been sexually active for about three years, and I just always figured everything would get better.

And it's not just intercourse. I can't even get satisfaction from oral sex or masturbating. It feels good, but then, instead of feeling really good, like you'd expect an orgasm to feel, suddenly the pleasure just kind of floats away. If that's an orgasm, it freaking sucks. It is unpleasant. What is wrong with me?

Love,

Can't Get Me No

Dear No:

Well, you're feeling unsatisfied because you are unsatisfied, but I don't suppose that observation will be much use to you. I believe that your sex drive is still hanging in there because you're a normal, healthy girl, albeit one who apparently has some issues (we call them issues when we don't know what else to call them) about sex. In fact, I'm not even sure you have issues. I think maybe you've just had some pretty disappointing sex, and now you're so expecting it to be disappointing that you're just kind of jumping straight to the disappointment part and saving yourself some time.

I hate to punt this over to the usual suspects, but I think I have to: there are books — lots of them — on learning to masturbate and becoming orgasmic, and there are some spectacular toys out there now, toys so good that I am not altogether positive I can still promise that using them will not interfere with partnered sex, but that is obviously a topic and a worry (an issue) for another time. The old classics are Lonnie Barbach (reads like a therapist writing for Redbook) and Betty Dodson (reads like someone you'd meet at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival circa 1989, naked), but they have accumulated an Amazon wish list full of competition. Poke around in the reviews and see if you can find someone whose voice you can stand, buy their book or DVD and whatever basic toys they recommend, then buy yourself some time and use them. Oh, and if there's a boyfriend in the picture, tell him to just hang on — you've got some stuff to do, after which he's welcome to come back and try again. If this works, it should be worth the wait.

Love,

Andrea

Dear Andrea:

I'm a 20-year-old girl, and I've only had one sex partner in my life (high school to the present). My problem seems pretty basic: sex doesn't feel all that great. I mean, the desire's there, but after a few minutes the pleasure part just kind of slips away, despite my best efforts to keep it there, and the rest either feels like smushing body parts or else is unpleasant and sort of painful. I don't understand how it can start off feeling good and then just go away. Maybe I'm on the right track: When I first started having sex (three years ago), it always felt pretty neutral. Now at least it feels good for a little while. I can't masturbate to orgasm either. It is incredibly frustrating to want to have sex even knowing I always go away from it unsatisfied. What is wrong with me? How do I fix it?'

Love,

No, No, No

Dear No:

I had to reread very carefully to make sure you and your doppelgänger are not the same person, but look — you're slightly younger! And very, very faintly less hopeless, I think, but that is open to interpretation.

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