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The Exquisite Pleasure of Goal-Free Sex

Updated: Aug 6




Goal-free sex has the potential to be the best sex you have ever had! I worked with many skeptical couples, but I promise when they abandon mission-oriented sex, something truly magical happens. Their sexual relationship is re-energized, and they find themselves enjoying sex more and feeling closer, both physically and emotionally. But what exactly is goal free sex, and what makes it so good?


Goal-free sex is precisely that. It is sex without a destination detouring from the typical linear process that most people think of as a sexual encounter. Most heterosexual couples start with desire (thinking about wanting sex), followed by arousal (erections, moistness, erect nipples), maybe some kissing, some fondling of body parts, perhaps some oral sex, insert penis here, thrust, thrust, thrust, orgasm and ahhhh. Done. It is not that this very linear thinking is wrong; it just limits the whole experience. Orgasm is the endpoint of sex in most people’s minds. It is the purpose of having sex, and if sex ends without orgasm, many people feel like sex was not complete, or that it failed. However, that perspective tends to minimize all of the other good and pleasurable things happening before orgasm. People tend to look at the other parts of sex as precursors to orgasm, so not as much attention is given to touching, kissing, rubbing bodies, and other fun stuff like using toys and/or enjoying oral sex. There is a tendency to rush through these other parts to hurry up and get to penetration as if that is what will bring all concerned to orgasm.


I have worked with men who think that if they cannot bring their partner to orgasm, they have failed. So, they either work harder, or they begin to believe that there is something “wrong” with her. Situations like this can cause BIG problems in the bedroom. When a man is hyper-focused on bringing his partner to orgasm, he is not fully present in the experience, and she can feel that. He may think that using his go-to technique “that worked on other partners” will work on her. So, he goes at it with gusto. Again, he finds himself in quite the predicament. It might sound crazy, but women have needs separate from the orgasm.


  1. Many women enjoy all of the other parts of the sexual encounter more than penetration and the moment of orgasm. But, if a man focuses on achieving a goal (either her orgasm or his), he tends to rush through the parts of the sexual encounter his partner wants to wallow in activating ultimate pleasure. And shockingly, some women enjoy penetration, even if they never have an orgasm from it.

  2. Most women do NOT achieve orgasm with penile penetration alone. Most women need some kind of clitoral stimulation to achieve orgasm. Some women prefer firmer clitoral stimulation; some like it lighter, some prefer no direct clitoral touch at all if she is very sensitive, but may enjoy the stimulation of the gazillion nerves surrounding the clitoris. Some women actually do not have orgasms or struggle to have orgasms and are not focused on it at all. In this case, if the partner “keeps trying,” it puts a lot of pressure on her to “perform” and that one big reason why 70% of all women admit to faking orgasms. Sometimes women fake it to get it over with since she is not getting what she wants anyway, or because her partner’s heroic efforts become painful. If he rubs her clit harder, she is not wincing and squirming because it feels good - it’s because it hurts! I found men who measure their sexual performance on the number of orgasms women have (and are usually fake). This is craziness! It is not sexy or desirable. It is a job...it is labor for all parties involved. Sex should be a joy ride filled with ecstasy, not a 9 to 5.

  3. Women’s bodies are different. What one woman finds pleasurable is not necessarily what another woman wants - ever. If a man believes he has been a great lover before with other women (who were probably faking it most of the time), he will reach for the go-to technique to get him to his goal. When his go-to does not work on the current partner, he sees her as defective. He thinks, “But it worked on all my other partners.” However, the problem is usually not her, but his ego, or maybe he’s just plain lazy. Some men do not want to or think that they should have to work to discover what this partner enjoys. It’s easier to blame her, and she knows that. (See #2)


The above problems are widespread with couples where one partner or the other is complaining about the frequency of sex, the duration of sex, or the limited pleasure they experience. The good news is that these problems are easy to fix.

When couples liberate themselves from seeing orgasm as the determining factor of whether or not sex was “successful” or “good,” it opens up endless possibilities for gratifying exploration and almost always enhances the sexual experience for both women and men. In one session, the couple may spend the entire experience kissing, touching, or doing something else that is enjoyable, even if it does not end in orgasm. Now, some people may think that they would leave that experience “frustrated.” However, by pausing the “all or none” thinking that is typical of goal-oriented sex and being fully present in the moment without worrying about what is coming next, pleasure is enhanced. Slowing things down and lingering over an exchange of touching allows nerve endings a chance to register the satisfaction much deeper than skimming over the same area very quickly. Almost everyone has had the experience of wishing their partner would go back and spend more time on a particularly erotic spot.


Goal-free sex eliminates the pressure to perform for women and men. When women are free to experience sex fully with or without the expectation of orgasm, many women report, it is more likely to happen. The freedom to allow one’s body to do what it does naturally is wildly liberating. Great sex almost always depends on getting out of one’s head! It also eliminates the pressure on men to “make it happen.” Some men are so concerned about their “performance” that mental stress can trigger difficulties with getting or maintaining an erection. Sexual pleasure can be very high with or without penetration and with or without orgasm - for everyone! Give it a try; I am interested in seeing what you think.


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© 2020 by Marjorie Nightingale, JD, LMFT

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