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How can I reframe oral sex in my mind so that I don't think of it as an awful experience? Should I even try?
March 12, 2010 1:32 PM   Subscribe

I dislike oral sex. My partner likes oral sex. We're both in our early thirties. I'm female in a relationship with a man.

I dislike oral sex (both giving and receiving) for the following reasons:

-It grosses me out a bit. I have suggested possibly trying with a condom and he has rejected that idea -It doesn't feel intimate to me. I like having our torsos close together. I feel like I'm just performing a service or he's just performing a service on me. I like sex to be mutually enjoyable. I enjoy the psychology aspects of sex much more than the physical. I feel lonely having my partner so far away from me during oral sex.

The reasons above make me not want to have oral sex. I've told my partner the reasons I don't want to have oral sex and he keeps mentioning that he can't imagine going the rest of his life without it and that he sees it as intimate and wants to engage in the act with me. He brings it up frequently and every time he does I just want to crawl in a hole. I don't feel like my feelings are being respected. This further turns me off to the idea of having oral sex.

I feel like having oral sex would mean that I am giving up a piece of my self respect. It further makes me feel like my partner doesn't respect my feelings and I don't think I can be with someone who doesn't respect my feelings.

When he says he can't imagine never having oral sex again, it makes me think he's going to leave me because of my refusal to have oral sex. Then, I feel like I am unloved because if he would dump me because I don't want to have oral sex, then he can't really love me.

I have been working on this issue with my psychologist, but I haven't been able to make headway. I'm stuck in the same pattern of thoughts. I am interested in changing my thoughts to believing that oral sex is loving. I don't think I will ever really enjoy it, but if I didn't feel so unloved when we discussed it, I might be able to do it to make him feel happy and loved.

My question is, how can I reframe my thoughts? Should I even reframe them? Will it harm my self esteem to reframe them?

I love this man, but I feel lots of anxiety thinking about oral sex and it makes me very sad that we can't come to an understanding. One final note, he would not be interested in going outside the relationship for oral sex. He doesn't want to have any type of sex with someone he doesn't love.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (61 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have to agree with your mate - I can't imagine going the rest of my life without experiencing (or giving!) it.

If he's anything like myself, he was raised by society to believe it's a normal and expected part of a sexual relationship. I can understand how it would be frustrating for him.

I don't mean to be indelicate, but have you tried... doing it at the same time? Your torsos most definitely will be close together and I guarantee you that it's mutually enjoyable.

Good luck!
posted by Cycloptichorn at 1:37 PM on March 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yeah 69ing will help with the physical closeness issue at least.
posted by orme at 1:38 PM on March 12, 2010


Do you like massages? They hard work to give, it's not pleasurable to do, and there's not much face to face contact. I think many people find them very intimate. I think of oral sex the same way. I actually agree with your feeling that it's like a "service" you perform for your mate, but that doesn't sound bad to me. I like it when my girlfriend makes me a sandwich, it's a way to express affection.

But I'm not sure these kind of feelings are always amenable to rational analysis.
posted by bluejayk at 1:41 PM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can you make an agreement with your boyfriend that he will back off for a little while so you can work on this with your therapist and not have to deal with his pressure? He could also compromise and do it with a condom. It's not ideal, but you're willing to try. It kind of sucks that he won't meet you halfway.

You're not wrong not to want to do it, and he's not wrong to want it. Sometimes people just aren't compatible.
posted by Mavri at 1:46 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


one of my very favorite ways to give head is to have my (male) partner sort of prop himself up in a leaning/sitting/laying position against the wall/headboard and for me to rest over his legs, facing him, so while i'm going down on him, he can touch, caress, love on me too. it feels incredibly intimate and special. another way is for him to again lean against the headboard, except i will kneel into an almost fetal position with my ass/toes facing the headboard and my head facing his toes. this again keeps our torsos very close and keeps my parts open for exploring and touching.

everyone has a right to their own deal breakers. it seems like oral sex is one of his, but he's doing you both a disservice to try and push you into it. he needs to decide if no oral sex is reason enough to leave and then to do it. whether it's truthful from his side or not, continued discussions on the matter leave you feeling unloved and icky. he probably feels his own measure of unloved and gross because you refuse to give him head.

i am not your partner, but no oral sex - hell, even having a partner that would for me but doesn't enjoy it - would be a deal breaker. it actually has been a deal breaker. it wasn't that i didn't love him enough, but that one of my primary ways of expressing/receiving love was thought to be disgusting.
posted by nadawi at 1:46 PM on March 12, 2010 [13 favorites]


I despise receiving oral sex. The very thought of receiving it makes me nauseous. I like giving it, but I hate receiving it. I don't think that you need to see a psychiatrist about it - in my opinion it's a personal preference - like not liking broccoli or roller coaster rides. Some people just don't like it.

I've had very satisfying long term relationships that did not involve oral sex. I think that we put too much emphasis on this act. Sex goes way beyond it. Experiment.
posted by patheral at 1:47 PM on March 12, 2010 [10 favorites]


This bit jumped out at me:

Then, I feel like I am unloved because if he would dump me because I don't want to have oral sex, then he can't really love me.

I think you should reconsider this. I don't think his feeling that lack of oral sex is a potential dealbreaker necessarily means he can't really love you. Since I'd imagine that not being into oral sex doesn't really define you as a person, he could still love you despite wishing that that particular aspect of you were different.
posted by ludwig_van at 1:48 PM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


Ugh, I totally know what you mean about how they don't really feel intimate. I LOOOOVE oral sex but sometimes I'm all "stop what you're doing and let's cuddle".

Is there a way that you and your partner can re-frame oral, not as a position or sex act to do all by itself, but as part of a larger exploration of each other's bodies?

Can he agree to let you go down on him until the point that you start to feel like you're "just performing a service" and then stop and move on to other things? Or vice versa (seriously, I do this all the time. See above.) Even if that is only a second or two, maybe you can start to reframe it as a powerful gift that can be given and received.

I have suggested possibly trying with a condom and he has rejected that idea

Umm... really? You said "I will go down on you if you wear a condom" and he said no? On second thought it does not sound like he is very accommodating at all. I totally understand that sometimes guys get really personal about their penis and their semen, like "Oh, if you reject my semen you are rejecting me," but he seriously needs to get over that.
posted by muddgirl at 1:49 PM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


I am a straight male who could take it or leave it. You are not alone and it’s not a psychological problem.
posted by thelastenglishmajor at 1:49 PM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


You're going to have a hard time finding a partner who doesn't enjoy oral sex, either giving or receiving or both. This is not one of those things that's a strange fetish that it's understandable to be grossed out by. So, not to be harsh, but you do need to get over it if you want a relationship.

What specifically grosses you out about performing it? Does he stink down there? Tell him. Do it in the shower, or immediately after showering. Does he taste bad? Tell him to drink pineapple juice; I'm sure there are other dietary adjustments that affect the taste if you search for them. nadawi has some excellent suggestions re: physical intimacy.

I feel like I'm just performing a service or he's just performing a service on me. I like sex to be mutually enjoyable.

Do you give him birthday gifts (I mean actual gifts, like clothing)? Isn't that mutually enjoyable, for him to receive the gift, and for you to see his reaction? This is much the same; even if you're not getting physical pleasure at that moment, you can have the psychological pleasure of making him happy. I guarantee you that he finds performing oral sex on you to be enjoyable and that he would be aroused by your reaction.
posted by desjardins at 1:52 PM on March 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Can you switch your feelings around to understand how he might feel?

It further makes me feel like my partner doesn't respect my feelings and I don't think I can be with someone who doesn't respect my feelings.

He might say "she outright refuses to give me oral sex, which I have always seen that as part of a loving, sharing relationship, and it makes me feel hurt and rejected and that she doesn't desire me. When I ask her to do it, and she says no all the time it makes me feel like she doesn't respect my feelings. I don't think I can be with someone who never takes my feelings into consideration"

I'm not saying that he is right and you are wrong, I'm just saying that maybe reframing it from his perspective might help you feel more loved. You are making HIM feel loved by doing it.
posted by gaspode at 1:53 PM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


P.S. Latex tastes much worse than skin. YMMV.
posted by desjardins at 1:53 PM on March 12, 2010 [11 favorites]


oh - and a lot of people seem to think that oral sex is an exercise in piston mechanics, which personally i could see turning a lot of people off. if you are interested in making oral sex more intimate/fun/sexy/not like a job - here is some advice i gave in another thread.

i disagree with those who say that him not wanting it with a condom makes him unaccomodating - it could be that he feels that you think his penis is "gross" and that you'll only touch it if you're protected by latex. there's not a lot of welcoming or sexy from that position. if i was told that my husband would gladly go down on me, just as long as we used a dental dam, my answer would be "thanks, but no thanks".

now! you don't need to get over this hang up. you are perfectly ok to say "i just don't want to give/receive oral sex forever", but it is something that will limit your dating/relationship pool and those who decide to not saddle up for forever without it aren't sex crazed, insensitive assholes - they're just different than you.
posted by nadawi at 1:57 PM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


if i was told that my husband would gladly go down on me, just as long as we used a dental dam, my answer would be "thanks, but no thanks"

Really? This is a good example of how everyone is different when it comes to personal levels of comfort.
posted by muddgirl at 2:00 PM on March 12, 2010


As a heterosexual man, I can't possibly imagine spending my life with someone who wouldn't let me go down on her. To me, that's just such an essential part of sex. Unless you are one of the lucky few women who have vaginal orgasms, it's pretty much the best way to bring a woman to climax. Not being able to perform oral sex on my partner would mean not being able to make her come. God, what a terrible sex life.

I'm not saying these things to be judgmental, just trying to give you an idea of what he may be thinking. Anyway, it sounds like you've been back and forth about this thing so many times in your head that you've built up a complex about it. Because of that, you're making it really hard for yourself to enjoy something that many women find to be very enjoyable.

Anyway, I'm one of those people who doesn't think that "see a therapist" is the end-all-be-all of advice, so I'm not going to waste your time with that. Instead, I'll just suggest that you re-examine some of your thought processes. Especially this :

I feel like I'm just performing a service or he's just performing a service on me. I like sex to be mutually enjoyable. I enjoy the psychology aspects of sex much more than the physical. I feel lonely having my partner so far away from me during oral sex.

Just because it's something he's doing to bring you pleasure doesn't mean that he isn't enjoying it. Personally, I love giving oral, wouldn't want to live without it. And not just because it's a way for me to bring a woman to climax. I love the physical act of doing it. I fantasize about it. The thought of doing it makes me hot.

Really, lovers do all kinds of things for each other. I mean, I like to cook for the women in my life. Just because I'm making a fancy meal for her enjoyment doesn't mean that I don't like cooking. Quite the contrary -- I love to cook!
posted by Sloop John B at 2:01 PM on March 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


anonymous: “I feel like I'm just performing a service or he's just performing a service on me. I like sex to be mutually enjoyable.”

Then you may as well give up now. Sex is hardly ever mutually enjoyable. This is a simple fact of life, and it's not an evil or tragic fact – it just means that you have to be a conscientious partner, and be willing to participate actively in the give and take. To be frank, some days he'll be crazy for sex, and you'll be bored at the idea – but you might just grin and go for it anyway, knowing that this is how a partnership works. And – though it sounds like you haven't realized this yet – sometimes you'll want sex a hell of a lot more than he will, but, being a good partner, he might just go for it in order to make sure that you feel sexually fulfilled.

This is how any long-term relationship has to work. We are human beings, and being a human being means coming to terms with the fact that your sexual drive is somewhat beyond your control, and may increase or decrease apparently at random. That's fine. But coming to terms with that means realizing that being in a partnership doesn't mean 'artificially controlling your sexuality so that you both always have exactly the same desires.' That would be silly, not to mention impossible, and it would mean you were unhappy almost all of the time. Partnership means accepting that you might not be on the same page as far as sex drive at any given time, but you make sure you both feel fulfilled anyway by making 'sacrifices' here and there. Take it from me – this is a small sacrifice.

“I feel like having oral sex would mean that I am giving up a piece of my self respect. It further makes me feel like my partner doesn't respect my feelings and I don't think I can be with someone who doesn't respect my feelings... My question is, how can I reframe my thoughts? Should I even reframe them? Will it harm my self esteem to reframe them?”

You're making a tremendous mistake here, I think. Sex isn't about respect. I think I understand what you're feeling – you feel degraded, as though oral sex is an expression of a power relationship whereby you are subjugated, or something like that. But you have to drop that; you're bringing unhealthy stuff into the bedroom when you place that context on it. He's not "subconsciously trying to enslave you" or anything like that – at least not if he's a caring, respectful partner. This is just sex, and sex is about pleasure.

As I indicated above, I think we do better when we treat sexual desires as somewhat random. And you'd probably have an easier time of this if you conceptualize it that way a bit. For example: what if he was really, really into wearing women's underwear? What if that turned him on? In such a situation, you could psychologize the situation (as you're doing now) and say that he's trying to take your place, or subvert your femininity, or that he "doesn't respect your feelings" by wanting to do something you're not exactly into. But really the only healthy way to approach a partnership like that is to shrug and say to yourself: 'this is what my partner's into. It may be weird, inane, ridiculous, or strange – but this is him, anyway, and I accept this part of him because I care about him.'

You don't have to pretend to enjoy it any more than you actually do, and you can be honest with him that this is something you're doing for him and not for you. What's more, you are free to make it clear that you're buying something by indulging him in this way. 'Okay, look: we can do 69 for a while, but in exchange I get to have straight-up face-to-face sex with you for a while after that, okay?' I only use face-to-face sex as the thing being bought in that scenario because you mentioned being into that – but remember this: since he's put his cards on the table and said that oral sex is really important to him, you can probably ask for just about any sexual favor you want to in exchange for a blowjob or two. Think of the possibilities!

“When he says he can't imagine never having oral sex again, it makes me think he's going to leave me because of my refusal to have oral sex. Then, I feel like I am unloved because if he would dump me because I don't want to have oral sex, then he can't really love me.”

Again, you're bringing a lot of stuff into the bedroom that probably shouldn't be there. You've made it clear that he's not going to leave you, and the fact that "he doesn't want to have any type of sex with someone he doesn't love" (your words, remember) makes it obvious that his love is somewhat independent of the bedroom – so you should stop worrying that he's going to stop loving you just because you won't do some particular thing.

And what's more, the big problem you have with oral sex is, I think, a result of your bringing too much of this stuff into sex. I think you have an idea that sex is 'an expression of love' - and it can be, but love just isn't the constantly thrilling, mutually mind-blowing, wonderful romantic thing it would have to be for both of you to constantly derive great self-respect and happiness from every single sexual act. Sex is an expression of love precisely because love requires sacrifice, it requires doing favors for your partner, it requires participation in the give and take.

I should say: that also means he has to play along, too. Someone once mentioned something here in ask.metafilter that made a lot of sense: in a sexual partnership, it's unhealthy to punish your partner, but rewards are just fine because they're a positive thing that doesn't linger. So my advice would be this: try to distance yourself from it and accept that it's just an act, one you won't necessarily get a whole lot of pleasure from, like eating lima beans or something. Then, having accepted it for what it is, tell him: 'okay, look. I'll give you one blowjob a week, but in return I'm going to want certain things.' And then be clear about what those things are. You've made it obvious that you enjoy sex that is on certain terms you have; make those terms clear to him. He's got to give some if he's going to take, and that's the healthy way to run a relationship.

And for heaven's sake, please don't look to sex for your self-respect or for an affirmation of the fact that you love each other. That happens outside the bedroom; when you bring them in, oftentimes a lot of bad mojo happens. Sex is just sex. Enjoy it.
posted by koeselitz at 2:06 PM on March 12, 2010 [33 favorites]


I was in a relationship with someone who I suspect felt a lot like you but never told me about it.....It eventually became a dealbreaker for me and that had nothing to do whether I was in love with her...In fact I was sad that it was a deal breaker despite the fact that I loved her....

If you in somehow someway are making him feel gross for whatever reason then I know exactly how that could feel and let me tell you is not good....If he smells or taste bad you can tell him or discuss it with him or use lube, I know one of the reasons you mentioned that you dont like oral sex is because it makes you feel not intimate, oral sex with a condom takes this feeling of not being closed to 10th degree so I am not sure how that makes things better for you.

It sounds like you are not into oral sex for whatever reason and if thats the case you should really tell him that that is how you are and figure out with him what are your alternatives (maybe really good hand jobs while you make out?)......Just know that for a lot of people it is a very important part of sex and just as much as you hate it....they may love it.....and will not want to do away with it for the rest of their life (I couldnt...and in hindsight I am very glad i made the decission to leave as my current sex life is much better)
posted by The1andonly at 2:07 PM on March 12, 2010


Here's a shorter version of what I said above, since it was way too long:

There's a childish part of us, I think, that gets very hung up on the idea of mutual pleasure. Because we get pleasure from giving pleasure to someone else, we tend to believe that that's how it always should be, and that every time we have sex we should have the fulfillment of looking into our partner's eyes and knowing we've given them a mind-blowing orgasm whilst having one of our own. But that's really a hangup because in the real world mind-blowing orgasms aren't always simultaneous, and they don't always happen together that way; there is give and take. After we come to terms with that, sex can, I think, be even more fulfilling. It may seem strange, but looking into your partner's eyes knowing that they weren't really that into it but did it anyway so that you could feel fulfilled is pretty awesome. And giving the person you love an orgasm just because it's something they like and you've got a few minutes when you're not busy with something else is actually rather nice, when you think about it, even if it isn't sexually fulfilling to you in precisely the same way.
posted by koeselitz at 2:21 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I feel like I'm just performing a service or he's just performing a service on me.
Interesting that you used the word "service," because on those occasions when I'm too tired for the whole foreplay/sex ritual yet I know that my man is feeling frisky, I'll be honest and ask him "Would you mind if I just serviced you?" And he's always more than amenable; he gets off on the idea of me being temporarily subservient and concentrating solely on his needs, and I enjoy pleasing him in this way, especially since he regularly, uncomplainingly does so many things for me, from grocery shopping to taking out the garbage to renting movies that he secretly loathes but sits through because he knows I like them. And even if I don't achieve the big "O,"seeing/hearing/experiencing his pleasure during these sessions still makes me feel good, like this is my special gift to him.

If it's strictly the psychological aspects (feeling far away from your partner,etc) of oral sex that repulse you, perhaps you can think of it as your "thank you" to him for being an awesome partner, a way to indulge him and let him know how much you appreciate him. Even if oral sex seems somewhat one-sided, you can subtly nudge your partner into doing things that excite you as well during the process (like putting his hand on your breast or some other erogenous area). Odds are that he'll get even more excited if he's able to pleasure you while you're pleasuring him. Of course, you are still in charge and can set guidelines and boundaries - if you don't want him to "talk dirty" or say potentially demeaning things while you're pleasuring him, then let him know in advance that gutteral moans of "oooh" and "oh, that feels good" are fine and dandy, but outright too-descriptive commands like "suck that" or (use your imagination) will completely turn you off.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:22 PM on March 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Should I even try?

Not unless you're into self-sacrifice. No one should have sex that grosses them out just so someone else can get a little head.

I have been working on this issue with my psychologist

Psychologist? You think you need mental work because you don't like a particular kind of sexual activity?

You're allowed to like pretty much any kind of sex that doesn't seriously hurt people. You're equally allowed to dislike pretty much any kind of sex. It's not a failing on your part for not liking it any more than it is a failing on his for liking it.

but I haven't been able to make headway.

Har.
posted by pracowity at 2:26 PM on March 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


To succeed at this, you'll have to reframe ALL of sex for yourself. The things you enjoy about sex are probably considered a one-sided, detached, non-intimate service by other people. That's an important fact that you need to accept, like, STAT. And the minute you do accept that, you're going to be left wondering how anyone could feel unloved when they do the things that make you feel so loved. And that's because we're all different and complex.

I am bothered by penetrative sex the same way you are bothered by oral sex. To me, penetrative sex is violent, invasive, demanding, one-sided, greedy, and impersonal. And that's whether I'm being penetrated or penetrating. But just never having penetrative sex is - as desjardins says - HIGHLY unlikely given its widespread popularity. So I have to step away from it and objectively remind myself that the way I feel about it is NOT how other people feel about it. I have to remind myself in no uncertain terms. "This is not violent. This invasion is consensual. This is enjoyable. This is a form of intimacy. This is giving AND taking; they are not mutually exclusive. This is a gift I am offering/accepting willingly and gladly." Reminding myself of the way other people feel about penetrative sex helps me adopt those views, even just for a while. And that has made all the difference in keeping me from becoming a creepy gay recluse with a house full of collectible porcelain dolls.
posted by greekphilosophy at 2:28 PM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


When he says he can't imagine never having oral sex again, it makes me think he's going to leave me because of my refusal to have oral sex.

It makes you think that because he's telling you that's what he's going to do. That's what I'd do too, eventually.

Then, I feel like I am unloved because if he would dump me because I don't want to have oral sex, then he can't really love me.

I would feel unloved if my partner was grossed out by the thought of going down on me. Asking if I would like to try it with a condom would greatly exacerbate that feeling.
posted by Crotalus at 2:30 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


The OP didn't mention anything about manual stimulation, whether she's ok with that. I'm guessing she prefers that to also be side-by-side if they do enjoy this kind of thing.

I might suggest mutual manual stimulation as a place to get started, so that both people are being pleasured but it's not directly sex. There's several positions to do it in; face to face laying on your sides, sitting up, or in something closer to 69. There's also the potential there for both parties to slowly incorporate a little bit of oral action into it, once she's comfortable. Mostly manual, slowly adding a bit of mouth. Perhaps she feels like she's going to have to go straight for deep-throat action, hardly a pleasant prospect for a novice giver. But giving him mostly manual stimulation with a little mouth on the head would be quite nice for him. He could do the same for her, a little tongue. And in all cases, it's a nice way to get started before sex, a bit of playfulness that doesn't have to go all the way to completion. Then she can go as far as she's comfortable and initiate sex.
posted by lizbunny at 2:39 PM on March 12, 2010


I enjoy the psychology aspects of sex much more than the physical.

I am a man and therefore quite possibly reading too much into this bit, but it did jump out for me. Do you have trouble orgasming? Does sex bring you pain or discomfort? How's your libido? You might want to make sure there are no medical conditions involved in addition to the psychological issues you mention. Just in case. I'm no expert but I think the physical part should be pretty good awesome, too.
posted by Orchestra at 2:44 PM on March 12, 2010


Then, I feel like I am unloved because if he would dump me because I don't want to have oral sex, then he can't really love me.

Would you want to be in a relationship for the rest of your life with someone who never ever wanted to have sex? No, that would be a dealbreaker. That doesn't mean you couldn't love someone who never wanted sex. It just means that you ideas about your future involve lots of sexytimes, and you need to be with someone who shares those ideas. It seems like your boyfriend is in a similar situation: he loves you, but oral sex is something he wants to have in his future, and you don't.

So what do you do about it? Well, you have to decide what's a dealbreaker for you. Is being with your boyfriend worth sometimes having oral sex even though you don't like it that much? If yes, then you should take the advice up above about how maybe to enjoy it more.

But, if no... Well, then, find someone who doesn't care about oral sex. Yeah, it's generally considered more normal for a person to engage in and enjoy oral sex than not, these days, but that doesn't mean there aren't guys out there with the same sexual proclivities as you. If this is something you really care about, that you do not and will not participate in oral sex, then you have to fit your relationships into a life that does not involve oral sex. And that may mean not being with this boyfriend any more.

(And unless you are unhappy with this aspect of your sexuality, that you don't like oral stuff, then there's no reason for you to see a therapist about it. Unless you think it's a problem, it isn't.)
posted by Ms. Saint at 2:44 PM on March 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


if i was told that my husband would gladly go down on me, just as long as we used a dental dam, my answer would be "thanks, but no thanks"

Ha! Chronic oral thrush would cure you of that, promise.

I feel like having oral sex would mean that I am giving up a piece of my self respect.

This, to me, is the most troubling part of your question. Because I promise you the vast majority of sexually active couples engage in this behavior--do you really think they lack self respect?

Because, in fact, I feel incredibly powerful and self-assured when I perform oral sex on my husband. And I feel incredibly loved when he performs it on me. I think it's a much more intimate act than intercourse--because one partner has to relinquish power to the other, because you're exposed, because, frankly, you're letting their body parts get all up in your grill. Remember that oral sex doesn't have to just involve genitals. I usually kiss my husband all over the place as part of the act--legs, toes, thighs, chest, belly. Because I love all of him, not just his lips or dick. It's not as if these places are any dirtier than his face, anyway.

As you can imagine, this would be a deal breaker for me. It may be for your boyfriend. I would feel like my ability to give and receive love fully would be impeded by your refusal to engage in what's a fairly vanilla, normal sexual practice.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:00 PM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


Okay, so there are two basic things going on here:

1. Your associations with oral sex: It grosses me out a bit...I feel like I'm just performing a service or he's just performing a service on me...I enjoy the psychology aspects of sex much more than the physical...I feel lonely having my partner so far away from me during oral sex...I feel like having oral sex would mean that I am giving up a piece of my self respect...I am interested in changing my thoughts to believing that oral sex is loving.

When you say you "enjoy the psychology aspects of sex much more than the physical," what does that mean? It might be illuminating for you to explore that.

I'm going to give serious consideration to the possibility that this is a problem, and not just a preference, because of the ways you've described the emotional significance of the act. Now, there's really no way to know why you might have these negative associations regarding oral sex without knowing much more about you, who you are as a person, what's happened to you in your life. There may or may not be an identifiable reason or reasons, of course. The act doesn't really "mean" anything by itself; we invest it with meaning through experience, both active (what we do) and passive (what we witness and are told), and by inherent tendency. If your psychologist isn't helping you to gain insight as to why you have these negative feelings about oral sex, you might want to consider seeing someone else, perhaps someone who specializes in sexual issues. Or maybe you're not making headway because this is just how you are, in which case it's probably futile if not counter-productive to try to become comfortable with it. Ultimately, this would be something we couldn't possibly get close to understanding; it would have to be something you figure out, hopefully with the help of a mental health professional.

2. Your feelings about your boyfriend's desire for oral sex: he keeps mentioning that he can't imagine going the rest of his life without it and that he sees it as intimate and wants to engage in the act with me. He brings it up frequently and every time he does I just want to crawl in a hole. I don't feel like my feelings are being respected. This further turns me off to the idea of having oral sex...It further makes me feel like my partner doesn't respect my feelings and I don't think I can be with someone who doesn't respect my feelings...Then, I feel like I am unloved because if he would dump me because I don't want to have oral sex, then he can't really love me...I love this man, but I feel lots of anxiety thinking about oral sex and it makes me very sad that we can't come to an understanding.

First, it's not the case that if he would break up with you over this, it must mean that he doesn't really love you. I really do understand that it feels that way, but you must be dispassionate and understand that he has needs that are independent of you. That's just how adult relationships are, and we all have to deal with the problematic implications of that -- all of us -- me, everyone else in this thread, and you, too.

Honestly, it sounds like this could be an insoluble impasse for both of you at this point in your lives. It's nobody's fault, and nobody necessarily needs to change here. Successful relationships invariably involve the fulfillment of the most important needs for both people. If this relationship isn't meeting his needs, and it sounds like it isn't, and if your need for respect for your feelings isn't being met, and it sounds like it isn't, then maybe it just isn't meant to be. And that would be okay, and not anyone's fault or failing.
posted by clockzero at 3:08 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm a woman, but like your boyfriend, I think of oral sex as a healthy and very intimate part of my sex life. That said, I don't think anyone has a right to tell you what you should or shouldn't enjoy as part of your sexuality.

I do think it's going to be rather difficult for you to find a partner who doesn't think like your boyfriend. Or rather, a partner who feels the same about oral sex as you do. There are exceptions to every rule, but I believe that most people feel strongly that oral sex is healthy, fun, and intimate.

There was a time in my life when I didn't particularly enjoy receiving oral sex. I didn't dislike it, but I could never seem to really get off on it, which frequently disappointed my partners and frustrated me. I was able to change that by fantasizing while my partner went down on me. After a while, I didn't actually need to fantasize anymore to have an orgasm while receiving.

So, I guess I'm suggesting that you practice fantasizing during oral sex as a way to warm up to it. There's the added bonus of sharing your fantasies with your partner later.
posted by dchrssyr at 3:09 PM on March 12, 2010


... and now I know why I am poly.

I really love oral sex, both giving and receiving. Couldn't imagine never having it again. Wouldn't want to. Shouldn't have to. I tend to feel that if a partner likes something I don't, they should have the right to get it. I should want them to be happy. It has no bearing on whether they love me or not.

"I feel like I'm just performing a service or he's just performing a service on me. I like sex to be mutually enjoyable."

I actually find penis-in-vagina to be about the most boring sexual practice there is. Sure, if you're a guy, it probably works basically every time... but "in-out-in-out" it doesn't feel as intimate to me as it probably does to my partners, especially if I'm on top. Mutual masturbation, woman on top, or 69 actually feels more in contact with my partner, and allows for more comfortable kissing, etc.

Lots of people find oral sex to be a mutually enjoyable part of their sex lives. Many, many enjoy it, even from a giving perspective. On one sense, you get to be directly in control of their orgasm, and really get to know how they tick and how to make love to their sex, right up close. Some enjoy the scent -- or the taste -- of their partners. Some enjoy the submissive aspect of it. Some enjoy concentrating on their partner's pleasure. I *like* to perform a service on my partners... lots of people do. I also like exploring every part of their body.

Oral sex doesn't have to be a solitary thing. It could be a precursor to sex, or it could be a great way for you to please him, after he's pleased you in some other way.

While 69 could help with the closeness, I have heard that many women find it distracting, making it difficult to concentrate on their orgasm. That said, as with most sexual play, practice makes perfect. I would bet that most who feel awkward with 69 haven't tried it nearly as often as other forms of sex, so it only stands to reason that it wouldn't be as comfortable for them.

"I feel like having oral sex would mean that I am giving up a piece of my self respect. It further makes me feel like my partner doesn't respect my feelings..."

Have you given oral sex before to any of your partners? What about masturbating them to orgasm? Light anal stimulation? Have you ever paid close attention to how his sex works, how it behaves, how his approach to orgasm effects his body, etc?

In other words, is your problem with oral sex largely based on inexperience?

My suggestion would be to wait until after a partner's shower, get a good lubricant -- I recommend one such as Pjur/Eros, which is tastefree -- lay a towel down on the bed, take them back to the bedroom, lube their penis, encourage them to masturbate for a little while you kiss them, play with their nipples, stroke their torso, and basically work your way down, learning from his masturbation technique, and taking over with your hands. Be slow. Explore his body widely. Lie up against him and kiss him, for closeness. Do this occasionally with him, sometimes using it as a precursor to penetrative sex, but try to gradually incorporate new things. Mutual masturbation with a good lube is also a great way to get intimacy,because you two can lie down comfortably and kiss, while getting each other off. The point being that you should learn to appreciate exploring, learning, and appreciating his body, ideally working towards some oral stimulation. You might even want to see whether he likes some degree of anal stimulation at some point too. (Gloves and lots of lube.)

Basically, you should surprise him and initiate things, when you're exploring him. Do it because *you're* curious about him, how he works, and what excites him. Hopefully, that will avoid the issue of pressure entirely.

If and when you build towards oral sex, you absolutely don't need to have him cum in your mouth. Indeed, you probably should avoid it, at first. If you get to know your partner's orgasm, how he and his penis reacts and responds, and how to bring him to orgasm with your hands, then it becomes a lot easier to give a blow job with a bit of help from hand at the base, bring him to the edge, with increasing levels of help with your mouth, and then use your hand to finish the job. I had a partner who didn't like to swallow who was really excellent at this.

The way things are, you seem to be interested in getting what satisfies you most, without consideration as to how best to please him. Women hate it when guys act the same way, and are incurious about what they need... and the thing is, if you actually explored more, there's a good chance that you two would both have a more satisfying sex life.

Ultimately, it seems to me that you need to get to know your partner better, sexually. You *should* be curious about how their sex works and how best to please them, as opposed to assuming that just because they orgasm through penetrative sex, that the same kind of sex, the same way is really a satisfying sex life for them. That doesn't mean that there isn't room for intimacy and contact... indeed, it could lead to more and better intimacy and more contact.
posted by markkraft at 3:19 PM on March 12, 2010 [3 favorites]


I dislike [a thing]. My partner likes [that thing].

I feel like [that thing] would mean that I am giving up a piece of my self respect. [H]e says he can't imagine never having [that thing] again.

Cutting to the chase, and removing the sexual aspect from it: you and he have a basic incompatibility that can only be resolved (without breaking up the relationship) by you agreeing to do something you don't want to do, or him agreeing to never do something we wants to do.

So, a decision has to be made: you either have to negotiate this with him, to see if he'll give it up, negotiate it with yourself, to see if you'll be willing to do it, or end the relationship now so that you can both find relationships with people who want what you want (and don't want what you don't want.)
posted by davejay at 3:23 PM on March 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


You're not being unreasonable. If a particular sexual activity makes you uncomfortable, it's not appropriate for anyone to pressure you into doing it. However, your boyfriend isn't being unreasonable either. He likes oral sex, and it seems to me that oral is pretty fundamental to his enjoyment of sex. Neither of you are wrong - it's just how you're wired.

So, you have two people with entirely reasonable and differing positions on how to best satisfy yourselves, and each other sexually. This is why the term "sexual incompatibility" was invented.

Something's going to have to give. Either you're going to have to learn to tolerate oral sex to some degree, or he's going to have to learn to live without it, or the relationship will have to end.

When he says he can't imagine never having oral sex again, it makes me think he's going to leave me because of my refusal to have oral sex

You're right - he very well might, and I personally wouldn't blame him if he did. In the end, we're all responsible for our own happiness.
posted by deadmessenger at 3:25 PM on March 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


You might want to try some sex positive woman oriented sites like Babes in Toyland or Good Vibrations to expand your sexual boundries a bit. If the relationship is very important to you, deepening your appreciation of physical bonding will also deepen the connection. And you will perhaps find sex much more enjoyable and not incidental to the emotional side. If you give the expansion bit a try for a few months and still find that you just don't like it, you might then consider that your physical needs are different possibly divergent.
posted by effluvia at 3:32 PM on March 12, 2010


I disagree with people who say that you'll have difficulty finding a partner who can and will go without oral sex. Almost all of my partners have had no problem with going without giving me oral sex. Oral sex has never been a deal breaker in any of my partnerships (most of them ended because of one or the other of us moving - I run with a nomadic crowd). If this does turn out to be a deal breaker for you in *this* relationship, don't despair, there are men out there who do not put such high value on oral sex.
posted by patheral at 3:49 PM on March 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


"Fellatio is more intimate than intercourse because it involves one's head." - John Updike
posted by bingo at 4:05 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


What about a straight-up compromise? What if once a week (or twice a month, or whatever seems reasonable given your normal frequency of having sex) you agree and plan to include oral loving in your sexy time, and the rest of the time you do it the way you like it?

Then figure out what grosses you out about oral and do what you can to remedy that. Is it the hair? Then one or both of you needs to shave or trim. Worried about cleanliness or odor? Take a sexy shower together right before oral time. Don't like his cum in your mouth? Make sure he understands he needs to let you know when he's about to erupt so you can take your mouth away and jack him by hand to the finish line.

"Oral Saturday" would give him something to look forward to all week, and all the in-between lovemaking sessions can be mutual and wonderful and intimate in the way that you like. (And there's no reason you can't start the oral-oriented session with plenty of hot making out before you do the deed to enjoy some of that full-body contact and face-to-face intimacy even during "his" session.)

The thing is, if one of you wins 100% of this battle it means the other one loses it 100%, and whoever is the loser is simply NOT going to be happy. And who could blame them? Wouldn't it be just as much of a drag for him to look forward to years and years of sexual disappointment and unhappiness as it would be for you?
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:25 PM on March 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh, and just to weigh in on the condom/dental dam issue? I can't even begin to imagine it would feel good to have someone licking my clit through latex. What would even be the point? It's the warm wet mouth and texture of the tongue that makes oral feel good. If he's just going to slide a lubed dental dam around my girly bits, he might as well just use his (bare, lubed) fingers. Which I'd prefer, in that case.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 4:26 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also recommend a book called "Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Sex" which is a collection of stories by women who are aroused by memories, scents, places, very unusual sorts of imaginary approaches rather than the many cliches out there in the world of sex.
posted by effluvia at 4:41 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've only read some of the many comments, but I'm sure they represent a range of views on this. Here are mine.

Obviously, it's your choice. Obviously, he can't make you do something you don't want to. I don't think anyone here would disagree with that. There's no question that you have a right to choose what you want to do.

But just because you have a right (not) to do something, doesn't mean you should exercise that right. We have a right to free speech that includes making ridiculous statements, and we have a right to be addicted to alcohol or cigarettes or junk food. Having a right =/= making the right decision. This fact is actually liberating: it's up to us whether to make the best decisions.

And I think the best decision is to give your boyfriend oral sex as part of the sexual dimension of your relationship.

You don't have to do it. But then, he doesn't have to stay in the relationship. And I recommend doing it in order to strengthen the relationship.

Oh, I think if you need a little while to work through your feelings you should definitely let him know about this, and he should be happy to wait. But I think the goal should be to get over this problem not by being the-girlfriend-who-doesn't-give-oral-sex and getting him to stop whining about it, but by being the-girlfriend-who-worked-through-her-feelings-and-gives-oral-sex.

I understand that you don't feel he's respecting your feelings. Maybe he's not doing the best job at handling it (I can't tell based on your description).

But have you considered that you're not respecting his feelings? You're focused on yourself. You don't enjoy doing it. You feel you would lose self-respect. You don't find it intimate.

Well, I'm sorry, but oral is a different kind of sex than vaginal: it is mainly about pleasing one of the two partners. Often the giver does enjoy it a great deal, but that's a relatively incidental benefit.

So, instead of making this about you, consider that it's a very loving and good thing to have certain activities that are uniquely done for him. He loves the experience. He presumably finds it very intimate. Some people find vaginal intercourse (genitals touching genitals) less intimate than oral sex (mouth touching genitals). Most importantly: he finds it essential to a good relationship.

Now, why is that kind of (mostly) one-way street acceptable? Doesn't that make things unequal? No, because here's the thing: most people who are sexually active LOVE to get oral sex. Some people love giving it; some people dislike giving it; I'll bet most people are in the middle. But if most people are in the middle about giving, and most people looOOOoove receiving, then it makes sense for the general norm to be that both partners are willing to give it and receive it. And I know some people are going to object to me calling that a norm, but it is.

You shouldn't feel compelled to follow the norm, because it's a fundamental principle that you should never feel compelled to do anything sexual. But again, he's not compelled to stay with you. He makes a choice, and it's based on enjoying the relationship on many levels, including sexual.

And you can't really argue with someone about whether they should enjoy sexual activities; people do enjoy sexual activities. They just do. You might feel it's somehow rational to prioritize vaginal sex over oral sex, but let's face it: that's arbitrary. I'm guessing that you consider vaginal sex essential and would consider it quite reasonable to decline to be in a relationship with someone who wouldn't do it. Well, there's nothing less rational about having the same attitude toward oral sex. This isn't to dismiss the fact that that's very far from your personal attitude; I'm just saying it's arbitrary for you to consider your attitude somehow more reasonable or respectable than his.

Can I see how you would find the act demeaning? Yes. If you want to describe it or think about it in a way that makes it seem demeaning, you certainly can -- I have no doubt about that. If you want to go searching for porn that makes oral sex look demeaning, you can find it. But -- you could do the same thing with vaginal sex if you wanted. Presumably, that would be irrelevant to your feelings toward vaginal sex, because you happen to like it a lot. Well, he's in the same position with respect to oral sex.

It'd be much easier for me to tell you: oh, don't worry about it, just do what you want. But I'm speaking as a guy who would not be willing to be in an oral-sex-less relationship. Is that silly of me? OK, maybe it is. Maybe relationships are always a little silly, and sex is definitely a little silly. There's a lot of common human behavior that's a little silly if you think about it that way but that's are also important to our lives.

I think your feelings are totally understandable, but I think his feelings are totally understandable too, and I think the best way for a relationship to work is for him to be able to receive oral sex. Sorry, I know this might not be the most politically correct advice, but that's my honest advice.
posted by jejune at 4:53 PM on March 12, 2010


What strikes me about how you've framed this issue, anonymous, is that you've painted your side as essentially completely rational and loving and your boyfriend's side as irrational and unloving. You've put all of the good things in the "No Oral Sex" column--intimacy, self-respect, true love, and all of the bad things in the "Oral Sex" column--grodiness, demeaning yourself, selfishness on the part of your boyfriend. And yet, you're also accusing your boyfriend of not being loving enough, of not being accommodating enough. He seems to be the one striving to be loving in this situation, not because not giving him head isn't loving, but because he's working with you in what seems like good faith.

I might be able to live without oral sex, but I'm not sure I could live long term with someone who thought so poorly of my desires. By which I mean, it seems like this sex act is the least of the issues represented here.
posted by OmieWise at 4:56 PM on March 12, 2010 [23 favorites]


(ah, please omit either "that's" or "are" in the last sentence of my second-to-last paragraph)
posted by jejune at 4:58 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


What this person said, 1000 times over. Stop talking to your psychologist about sex and start talking to him/her about this.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:03 PM on March 12, 2010


I agree with a lot of what was already said here-I think you are going to have a hard time in this day and age finding a man who is totally okay with never receiving oral sex. And I would honestly be suspicious of any guy who said he was, but maybe that's just my jaded perspective talking.

But I do think that it can be something of an acquired taste. There was a time in my life when I flat refused to do it. However, after realizing how much pleasure it brought my partner, it became something I not only will do, but that I love doing. I think that it helped me to make it this really powerful thing that I could practice and get good at and then do for my partner that would absolutely make him worship me. Got me over the paradigm shift of feeling like it was this degrading yucky thing that men demanded of me. Just make sure you're giving it a real chance, not just dismissing it based on the awkward first few efforts and the idea of it.
posted by supercapitalist at 6:56 PM on March 12, 2010


I think it's been over 12 months since I 'performed' oral sex on the other anachronism (i'm pretty sure he's gone down on me more recently but can't be sure when). Sure, that's not because I dislike it, it's simply that I find a lot of other things more fun. Forcing yourself to engage in unfun things during sex is a pretty surefire way to completely ruin your sex drive. I hate how common it is to advise people (mostly women) to effectively "lay back and think of England" as if engaging in sex you dislike is just like doing a chore you dislike. Nothing ruins my sex drive like doing something I don't like during sex. Particularly if I'm doing it to simply keep the peace. Both the other anachronism and I are happy with the lack of oral sex because we both enjoy other acts more/as much and we both know just how destructive that chore aspect to sex can be. We make it fun so we want to do it, not a chore that we do out of habit.

That said, I agree with a lot of previous posters that this is about so much more than just oral sex. The way you frame your decision vs his desires. The way you talk about sex. It isn't that these things are wrong, but they probably won't work in the context of this relationship.

Also, on the practical side have you tried oral without his penis actually going in your mouth (i.e. just licking/nuzzling) - rather than an act, as part of foreplay? That's generally my preference.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:31 PM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


You're going to have a hard time finding a partner who doesn't enjoy oral sex, either giving or receiving or both. This is not one of those things that's a strange fetish that it's understandable to be grossed out by. So, not to be harsh, but you do need to get over it if you want a relationship.

I don't think you need to get over it. I think if someone doesn't want to do a sex act, then no one, anywhere, and in any way, has the right to coerce them into doing it. Coercing someone to do their fair share of the dishes is worlds away from coercing them to suck their penis. It's more invasive by a factor of about 100, especially if you find it gross.

And it sounds like, to me, your relationship may have passed the point of no return. If you give in now to make him happy, you might feel like you have let yourself down and you should have stood your ground. And from what you wrote, he clearly has a sense of sexual entitlement to make you do something you really don't want to do.

I would feel like my ability to give and receive love fully would be impeded by your refusal to engage in what's a fairly vanilla, normal sexual practice.

This to me sounds coercive. It doesn't matter how many other people are into oral, the point is that she is not. It's about respecting the individual here, by which I mean the one who's doing the work and being asked to give here and do something they find odious, disgusting, or awful.

How do most people react when someone tries to get them to do a sex act they really don't want to do? For everyone there's something that crosses that line to where they don't feel valued if their sex partner is more interested in pushing them over that line than respecting their boundaries.

I'm sorry but I think he is going to leave you over this. Either that or make you miserable trying to cater to his needs. Let me guess, if you agree to do it then he will complain that you're not "into it" enough and he needs you to do it enthusiastically and at least pretend that you enjoy it. Which adds mental and emotional service to physical sexual service.

And yes I think he loves oral more than he loves you. To me, loving someone means respecting their boundaries and not trying to get them to do something they really, really don't want to do. I know askmefi is very friendly to the idea of sexual entitlement, but I don't agree. Agreeing to sexual contact with someone should not necessariliy entail catering to their every whim at the expense of your self respect and personal standards of what you are willing to do.

I think you are fine, anonymous. You can find a guy who will not feel he is entitled to something you really don't want to do. I think things in your current relationship are already so charged about this issue that things will break down.

Good luck.
posted by marble at 8:01 PM on March 12, 2010 [9 favorites]


This recent thread has some pretty good advice.
posted by inkytea at 8:40 PM on March 12, 2010


You need to COMPLETELY IGNORE all talk of "oral sex is normal" -- from your boyfriend, from your therapist, and from people in this thread.

I think this is one of the disadvantages of living in a society where sex is everywhere, ever-available, ever-present, and everyone's business. But how much oral sex everyone else is having is a red herring.

It's not about his sex life or your sex life, it's not about what he's done to other women, or what his friends are doing, or what he's seen done in porn, or what turns him on in a fantasy, or what every other person ever does every night. It's about your [plural] sex life, yours and his together. A sex life in which you don't like oral sex, and in which he says he can't live without it. If that's a sex life in which either of you don't want to be, than get out.

Stop feeling abnormal or strange or stuck or whatever else. Imagine if you were instead talking about anal sex -- you think it's gross and degrading. It's something you don't like, and you're perfectly justified in not liking it, no matter how many women do. If he's not satisfied enough with your sex life as is, then tough. And neither do you have to put up with being nagged about doing something that you don't like.

You can tell him what my mother taught me to say when I was younger, when guys would try the line "A lot of girls really enjoy it": "Well then I guess you won't have any trouble finding another girl to do it."
posted by thebazilist at 8:56 PM on March 12, 2010 [7 favorites]


Don't do it if it isn't fun (or at least okay).

That's my sex rule. I think it works out pretty good.

I wouldn't judge you if you liked to have sex while being whipped or something. So why would I judge you for NOT liking something? Doesn't make sense. It's your body, your choice, and I respect that. You kinda have a niche anti-fetish. That's cool with me. Pressuring someone to do something they don't want to do--man, that's much more of a sexual dealbreaker. No one likes a nag. But because it's something you're "expected" to like it's okay for him to pressure you and badger you.

Like markkraft implied above, it sure helps if you don't put all your sexual eggs in one basket. Maybe he could try to get oral sex from someone else. Depends how you feel about that. At this point it feels like it would be kinder if he just went to someone else instead of constantly putting such a heavy burden on you, threatening to dump you, etc.

I could write fourteen philosophical paragraphs about it and it still won't change the fact that it is YOUR body, YOUR mouth. You. And you get to decide what you want to do. Nobody is entitled to oral sex. Ever. Nobody is ever entitled to any kind of partnered sex.

Of course I am biased because I have a weird thing--I could live my whole life happily with no French kissing. I am just not into tongues being all up in mouths. The idea of someone nagging me about it is...ugh. I used to not be able to tolerate it but due to patient partners who really just said, fine, that's off the table, relax, I have relaxed and now do it in a neutral way and very, very occasionally enjoy it. So yeah, I hear you. It can be rough. But there are people out there who will be okay with your sexuality.

For what it's worth, some responses to a question that is the other side of the situation.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:50 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


"You can find a guy who will not feel he is entitled to something you really don't want to do. I think things in your current relationship are already so charged about this issue that things will break down."

All these suggestions of finding a guy who doesn't like/want oral sex for the rest of their life -- a hard thing to do -- overlooks all the other aspects that could be positive about the relationship. Communication. Trust. Compatibility in every other major respect. The possibility of children. Intimacy. Honesty. Attraction. Financial stability... Love?!

How often can a person find such a thing? Once a decade, realistically, if they're looking?! In the event that she might want kids and a partner for raising them, she probably doesn't have that kind of time.

It seems to me that she knows that she has some hard-to-explain emotional biases against oral sex. To me, it sounds like a kind of trust/intimacy issue, comparative to guys who don't like to kiss. It's gross. It's too gratuitously sexual, and not intimate enough. It's demeaning, both giving and receiving, because it puts her out of her comfort zone, which seems to be one of emotionally safe, less controversial, reliably intimate penetrative sex that serves her needs.

She seems to think that oral sex is dirty. (Not that it needs to be.) How much of that is reality, based on experience with her current partner? Is any of that related to her upbringing, which might be religious, and could frown upon non-conventional sex?

Ultimately, the human brain is very adaptive. A combination of positive experiences, positive reinforcement, therapy, and gradual steps to explore her partner could not only help her work through these issues, but also improve her own life.
posted by markkraft at 9:51 PM on March 12, 2010


My wife is the same way. I actually have been hard on her about it because it seems so counterintuitive to me. Eventually I just realized it wasnt worth the argument... but reading your description kind of took my breath away... and made me feel terrible about hassling her for it.

The one thing that she has never done, that probably would have made a world of difference to me, is just explain how she really feels about the whole thing. You were very expressive in your post... I wonder if you ever put it to him quite that clearly.

If he really loves you, he will accommodate this. Tell him that before you can even think about trying to change yourself, you need to really know that his love for you is deeper than his need for a particular sex act. If he won't... tell him he has a lot to learn about what it means to be a man... and that an internet stranger said so.

I actually went and registered a new name and paid the fee just to post this.
posted by 2dimages at 11:18 PM on March 12, 2010 [5 favorites]


In the survey linked in this recent FPP, you'll note that only a minority of people have had oral sex in the last year. So while people responding here are comfortable saying that:

the general norm to be that both partners are willing to give it and receive [oral sex]

that doesn't actually match the lived experience of most men and women in modern US society. Not everyone likes oral (giving and/or receiving), and certainly most people manage to live without it, happily or not.

I'm about as sex-positive as they come, and yet I think that the advice you are getting here is weighing too strongly in the direction of "come on, it's just a bit of oral, what's wrong with that?" Really, it's your body, you get to decide what goes in it and what doesn't. In return, your partner gets to decide if that's a deal-breaker.

Having said all that, though, I do agree that you seem to be having a serious communication and respect issue with your partner. You are both (from your description) ascribing all kinds of motivations to what are some pretty basic statements -- "I want oral"/"I don't want to give oral". The real issue isn't about oral; it's about boundaries and feeling respected and feeling cared for fully in a respectful and meaningful way. Solve that and the oral issue will seem like a minor bump in the road.
posted by Forktine at 11:27 PM on March 12, 2010 [6 favorites]


If it's a dealbreaker for you, and it's a dealbreaker for him, then that's life, and it's a shame. You certainly don't have to learn to like it.

I guess it depends exactly how you feel about it (and him). I hate bony fish - it squicks me out, and I'd be quite happy living the rest of my life without picking tiny sharp bones out of a steaming carcass. It's an acquired taste I don't care to acquire. On the other hand, if I was with someone who was proud that their fish was the best this side of Paris, I'd try to reconfigure my way of thinking about it, to find what makes it so wonderful that people love it. You can learn to love something which is foreign to you, and it frequently improves your life. I hope my partner would appreciate the effort!

On the other hand, if I was vegan, that fish would represent a needless death. Learning to love it would be sacrificing a fairly major part of myself.

That's for you to decide - if you want to acquire the taste.

If you decide to do so, find people that love it, and get them to explain why - to infect you with their enthusiasm. Online, close friends, literature, however you want. Get yourself into the headspace of someone that is thinking "Oh yes - I REALLY like that". Try to avoid porn-y stuff, because it has all sorts of weirdness. Try to see it from all 4 perspectives - enjoying giving to/as a woman and enjoying giving to/as a man. Some of the comments here do a great job of putting it as part of a respectful, loving relationship.

Maybe you'll learn to love it, maybe you'll learn to enjoy it, or at the very least you can say "I gave it a good shot, and it's definitely not for me - what now?".

Personally, I would say if you can't enjoy it, don't "tolerate" it. Toleration is for dirty socks, not sex.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 1:59 AM on March 13, 2010


the general norm to be that both partners are willing to give it and receive [oral sex]

that doesn't actually match the lived experience of most men and women in modern US society.


How do you know that? Notice I just said "willing"; I didn't say most people actually do it.

I have no idea if most sexually active people actually give and receive oral sex, but if we're talking about people in the US, who are in an unmarried-but-LTR situation, all my anecdotal experience suggests that it's rare indeed for people to have the attitude that "I just don't do oral sex because I don't find it fun." As I explained at length, that is not the smartest way to approach a relationship.

To be clear, absolutely no one is suggesting that the OP should be coerced into doing this; we're just giving a recommendation on how to best handle the relationship situation, just like what's done all the time in relationship threads. She's free to follow or not follow my advice, but I just think her relationship will be better if she follows my advice. And if I'm wrong and she follows the "do whatever you want and don't worry about your boyfriend's feelings" advice, and if this works out really well and causes no conflict or unhappiness in the relationship, then that would be great and I'd be happy for her. But I don't envision it working out like that.
posted by jejune at 4:08 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


How do you know that? Notice I just said "willing"; I didn't say most people actually do it.

Well, "willing" doesn't mean jack shit without eventually producing action. And (again drawing on the survey I liked above), if about 90% of people have had intercourse in the last year, but less than a third of people had oral sex in that same year, that tells you something about people's actual, real-life, interest in and willingness to perform oral sex.

In other words, us MeFi people may skew heavily towards "dude, oral sex is fucking AWESOME!" whereas society more broadly definitely skews towards "fun to talk about but never quite get around to doing it."

My two central points are a) it's her body and her decision about what enters it, period; and b) the actual issue at hand is a communication problem, not an oral sex problem. I think that there have been some really powerfully-written explanations here of why oral sex can be so central to some people's sexuality, so I think the OP may have a much clearer picture of that now. The question for her is what to do with that understanding -- adapt for her partner, or maintain her current boundaries knowing that it is a fundamental source of unhappiness for him. Any solution is only going to come from communication, be it verbal or non-verbal.
posted by Forktine at 6:43 AM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not much to add (62 year old male here).

Dr. Wayne Dyer writes, "When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." It's true. That's how people turn hardship into opportunity.

When a teenager, I saw oral sex as something that only sluts did. The thought of sticking my tongue in lady parts? Eeeeewww.

Then I went to college. Experienced a lot of wonderful women. All were different.

Then I married the woman of my dreams. My Madonna. While I'd engaged in oral before, she hadn't.

But it didn't take long for it to become a wonderful part of our love life. The key: LOVE LIFE.

Mutual respect, love, and a desire to please. I cannot imagine a love life without playful experimentation.

But, you are not wrong. We all have our boundaries. One of mine is cumming in a woman's mouth. Or face. Many women ask for it (I'm single now) but I still "see it" as demeaning. That's all that counts. So, I won't do it. I was 50 something before I consented to anal. Not something I need, but if a woman finds it intimate, I'll give it a go.

It's partly getting the "cooties" out of our head. Holding hands is one of the "dirtiest" things we do. We should scrub like a surgeon before engaging in such.

I won't do anything that another finds demeaning or "icky." But, I don't view oral love as "icky." Experience counts. When a woman is gasping, moaning, and pulling my hair as I please her, it is anything but icky. It is beautiful. My teenage perceptions were just that. Now I cannot (like your boyfriend) not doing it.

Perhaps you can try to put yourself in his head (no pun). If he loves you, the last thing he wishes to do is demean you. He wants to pleasure you. His pereceptions are based upon his experience and he wants to share that. Not that complicated, really.

I suspect you are pretty young. Lots of perceptions will be challenged and changed in your life. When that happens, it's wondrous. Happens to me all the time. I'm not the same guy I was yesterday. Thank God.

He's told you how he feels. He now needs to back off. The great thing about great relationships is that each person always has choices.

Good luck and good loving...
posted by private_idaho at 8:19 AM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just wanted to note two things:
1. a lot of these comments seem essentially like peer pressure (everyone does it...) -that shouldn't be the reason you change your mind.
2. I went through the reverse of this - I had always enjoyed oral sex, and assumed it was part of any relationship, until I ended up with a guy who basically felt it was demeaning to both parties. We talked about it a bit, and I didn't feel like it was that big a thing to forgo. In fact it made me reassess why I had always assumed oral sex was a "given". That isn't to say I agreed with his understanding, but I realized preferences are all over the place and the act itself with him would be uncomfortable, because he would be uncomfortable.

Basically, do what you enjoy. Like someone above says, if you want to develop an interest, read up on other people's interest in oral sex, and why they like it, and try to relate to that, so that if you try it, it is because it's exciting to you... To me, there is something intimate in getting to know the details of someone's body, so you don't see just their face but you know the mole on their back and the curve of their hip and the hair on their thigh as well. Everyone recognizes their face, but only their lover knows them by those kinds of details...
posted by mdn at 8:26 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you just don't like it, that is reason enough not to do it. You're an adult. You get to choose what you do and don't do.
posted by Ouisch at 9:07 AM on March 13, 2010


Your question is a simple one. It's a two part answer.

1. You have the complete right to refrain from anything you don't want to do. He shouldn't try to shame you into doing anything. If it's important enough for you to not do it, and he insists, you're welcomed to find someone else.

2. He has the complete right to decide what's important in his sex life, which is a large part of his LIFE. And if it's important enough, he has the right to find someone else. The remarks about 'if he really loves you' and if he can't handle it he's not a 'real man' are bullshit.

I can't believe at this point in the thread people are saying 'its you're body, you get to choose what you get to do with it'. No shit.

I ended up with a guy who basically felt it was demeaning to both parties.

The fact that he doesn't want to do it is one thing. The fact that he finds it demeaning to both parties, which is ridiculous, would make me run for the hills. I can't imagine the psychological problems lurking underneath.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 10:37 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


well, sex is weird and you can't always control psychological connections. An interpretation of oral sex as accentuating inequality of some sort is hardly original to that person, though. (eg, Monica Lewinsky would have come off differently if she'd had intercourse with Bill Clinton, or pegged him, than she did for having given him a bj...)

That's certainly not to say it's the "right" interpretation, but it's perfectly common, even among people who enjoy oral sex (who then just make sure to reciprocate). Some people exploit that, some people repress it, some people honestly don't experience it, and some people dislike that component and so dislike oral sex.
posted by mdn at 11:42 AM on March 14, 2010


Just wanted to add that maybe you can think about performing a service for each other a bit differently... When you're giving head, you are the one making your partner make certain awesome noises, making his cock twitch and jump, etc etc... Do you enjoy these reactions at all, or other types of feedback when you're fucking? If you frame it as getting him to make these reactions that you enjoy it might seem less one-sided.
posted by By The Grace of God at 7:18 PM on March 16, 2010


I agree with a lot of what was already said here-I think you are going to have a hard time in this day and age finding a man who is totally okay with never receiving oral sex. And I would honestly be suspicious of any guy who said he was, but maybe that's just my jaded perspective talking.

In my opinion/experience, many women are not very good at giving oral sex. If it's done poorly, then it's frustrating and sometimes painful. When I start a new relationship, I'm a lot more concerned about whether she's going to be any good at it than whether she'll be willing to do it.

Many women have this idea in their head that part of being a good girlfriend means giving good blowjobs, and so they feel the need to do it regularly, and to keep trying until they get it right, and I often end up trying to come up with a way to tell the one I'm with (whoever it is) to just get over it and stop.

That said, the OP's boyfriend is probably not like me in this regard, and that doesn't mean he's a terrible person.
posted by bingo at 5:36 PM on March 21, 2010


DTMFA

How can I reframe oral sex in my mind so that I don't think of it as an awful experience?

With a better boyfriend.

You've recognized an area for an improvement and are actively trying to solve it: going to therapy, posting on MeFi, and suggesting compromises. Boyfriend has said "Your efforts offend me. I wanted you to have arrived in my life fully formed. Despite your efforts, I'm not willing to help you out or meet you half way. It's my way or the highway". He's selfish through-and-through and I bet he's like that in all aspects of your relationship.

I realize that this problem didn't begin with this boyfriend but he's making it worse. Has he done anything to make it easier for you? Come up with any creative compromises? Different approaches?

No wonder you feel lonely.
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 5:33 AM on April 1, 2010


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