Orgasms are supposed to be the goal of most sexual activity. Sex without one would be like watching a space opera with no giant starship battle at the end, right? But it turns out that not everybody really cares that much about the Big O all the time, because other parts of sex are giving them pleasure.
Health researcher Emily Nagoski says that she hears about this issue a lot in her work as a sex educator — enough that it's become a pattern. She writes:
Mostly these have been folks – both people with penises and people with vaginas – who desire sex with some frequency, but desire orgasm with LESSER frequency . . . To these people, let me say: Yes, you are normal. Orgasm varies from person to person and there are plenty of excellent sources of pleasure from sex that don't involve orgasm . . . It's not a man/woman thing, it's not a male/female thing. People just vary. It's one of those things.
But, she cautions, there are times when there might be cause for concern if orgasm imbalances emerge that aren't just the normal variations:
Now, orgasm is a limited resource over which power conflicts can emerge. If Partner A has an orgasm, they often want Partner B to have one too. It seems fair. Orgasm takes effort and trust and intimacy and often skill, and if Partner A experiences Partner B as "withholding" orgasm, Partner A may begin to feel like there's an imbalance. They may feel controlled. They may begin to feel a bit bitter.
Is it possible your partner is deliberately withholding orgasm in order to have control? Sure. If that is what's happening, then there are OTHER issues in your relationship than just the orgasms, and my suggestion would be to focus on those.
The good news is, yes, not everybody needs to have an orgasm to enjoy sex. But that doesn't mean you should never have them!