Catherine Townsend: Sleeping Around

We're not the only fakers, girls

I tried talking dirty and asking what he liked, but elicited only monosyllabic grunts in response. Then, after an hour and a half - right at the point when my mind started wandering to brands of soya milk at Tesco - he suddenly shouted "oh God!" and stopped.

It's hard to explain, but something about his reflexes seemed a bit too - voluntary. Afterwards, he immediately jumped up and ran to the bathroom to get rid of the condom. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that night, but after the next time, I started to suspect that his "stealth orgasms" might have been staged for my benefit. But why?

When I polled my male pals, I found out that they do it for the same reasons as women: they may be drunk and desensitised, taking medication, stressed, tired or just not that into the girl. Since I'm used to men coming too soon, it never really occurred to me that taking too long could be just as much of a problem for them.

The whole experience reminded me of my days as a conscientious student, when I lived for the days when I could count the gold stars next to my name for tasks accomplished. In some ways, I guess I felt that, without positive feedback, I wasn't "woman enough" to make him come.

I took my friend Michael out for sushi to delicately broach the subject of why my new beau seemed incapable of communicating his needs. "He's probably just trying to spare your feelings," he said. "I remember with one ex, after I'd drunk half a bottle of scotch and knew there was no chance - it's just easier to go 'Oh! Oh!' and be done with it than carry on."

But can't girls tell? "Not with a condom," Michael insisted, "and even without, you can always just say that it was a small one, she's probably not going to check."

But to me, lying in bed is like lying on a CV: you may get away with it for a while, but it's so much worse when you get found out in the end.

I decided that if we were mature enough to get naked together, I would have to broach the subject with my new man - over coffee, not in bed. As it turned out, he was relieved, because he had been so concerned about my pleasure that he couldn't focus on himself. Plus, he was paranoid about taking too long.

We even joked about his shyness in the sack. "The last time a girl said 'Tell me your fantasies', I started talking about watching her with another girl. She freaked out, then got up and left. So these days, I tend to stay quiet!"

So we made a deal: he promised to be honest, and I vowed not to take his inability to climax as a sign of failure on my part.

We now take more time to cuddle - and like long-distance runners at water stations, take breaks to rehydrate and occasionally share a mid-coital cigarette. Let's face it, there are worse things than a marathon sex session with a gorgeous man...

c.townsend@independent.co.uk

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