It hurts when you hit a wall
December 8, 2007 8:31 PM   Subscribe

My wife is very 'vanilla' when it comes to intimacy.

Okay. First: Background. We are newly-weds of about 6 months. We were each others' first & only partners, but we dove into our sex life and have been having a lot of fun. We have 'regular' sex often, but I like to try new things, so I have been working on my oral routine on her, and have been having a lot of success. The only problem, is when I ask my wife to go down on me, she gets... shy. I think that's the best way to say it. She is not 'shy' when it comes to regular sex, but the moment I mention oral, she gets tense, and no amount of conversation will even convince her to go near me. She also has problems describing/explaining her thoughts and emotions, so I can't get the reason out of her. The closest I've come to getting the reason is that she's (deathly) afraid that she won't be able to breathe while she is doing it, but it seems that this is not the only reason.

I would like any advice you can give me on how to proceed with this situation. I would like to explore this area, but I seem to have hit a wall. I am very open, and able to express my feelings, thoughts, and emotions, but my wife does not have the same ability, and that has gotten in the way of our conversations on this topic. Please help!

p.s. to my knowledge, she has not been abused in any way, and I really have no reason to think so.
posted by tdreyer1 to Human Relations (31 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

Well, if she is deathly afraid of it, I wouldn't push it.

If she brings it up with you again, maybe ask her if she would be afraid of licking instead of putting the whole things in her mouth.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 8:35 PM on December 8, 2007

wow... six months...

give this some time.... and, as mentioned, don't push this...

The fact that you are the first partners for each of you is a wonderful thing, but also a bit of a limiting factor..

do some reading, watch some movies, take some time... it will all work out...
posted by HuronBob at 8:45 PM on December 8, 2007

There might be a few reasons that her other reason is covering up for. Firstly, it might just seem degrading to her in some subconscious way, whether that's just a personal opinion or something caused by family or religion. Secondly, perhaps there's a cleanliness issue.. make sure you only bring up oral immediately after showering if that's not something you always do immediately before sex. Third, maybe she's not too keen on the idea of the taste / smell (even if clean).. that's certainly something men aren't keen about regarding giving a woman oral. Perhaps introducing a flavored lube and promising you won't expect oral till completion will get things started.
posted by wackybrit at 8:46 PM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

A couple thoughts on "afraid she won't be able to breathe"...

Does she have a really sensitive gag reflex?

Do you have really bushy/dense pubic hair, such that she might be freaked out about having to breathe through her nose when it's jammed in there?
posted by CKmtl at 8:59 PM on December 8, 2007

Best answer: My suggestion is that you wait for a time when you are getting along fine, and there's not a lot of tension, and you're in a non-sexual situation, and then ask her what it is that seems to make her feel shy or restrained about oral sex for you.

Just open it up so she can tell you what's weirding her out. Because, quite honestly, it's not that unusual for someone without a lot of experience with men to be a little icked about this before the first time. She may have any number of misconceptions: about the smell, the taste, about your orgasm and where you want that to happen and how that's going to feel and taste, and even psychological concerns about what this may mean to you and how it may change your perception of her.

There's no way you're going to know until you ask exactly what isn't sitting right with her. If you do ask, you'll have a clearer idea of what's holding her back, and that will allow you both to get the information and perspective you need to move along. Whatever her fears/concerns, she's definitely not the first female to have ever felt them, and once you know what they are it should be fairly easy for you to seek information together that will build her degree of confidence. There's a ton of literature on the web and in books for first-timers of both sexes. Some of the misconceptions are just that, and she'll get over them when she has some of her own experience. She may fear disappointing you or not having enough skill. She may just want to hear that a lot of women have felt the hesitancy she feels now, and have still gone on to really enjoy giving oral sex. Once you know what the exact hangups are, you can address them.

And make sure she knows you'll work with her. If she doesn't want you to come in her mouth just yet, well, you don't have to. Let her know she can be in charge of the event. Be willing to go step by step - a small kiss or lick at first. Ask what you can do to make her more comfortable - shower first? Move on from this activity to something else she likes after a couple minutes? Reward her with something she likes?

Don't give up, though. Silly as it may sound, this really is a hurdle for most women, whether they encounter it during their teen years or as married adults. I'm sure she loves you and wants to please you and that you'll get there. Be understanding and patient, and good luck!
posted by Miko at 9:01 PM on December 8, 2007

Best answer: That's not necessarily "vanilla". There are some people who just don't want to perform oral on a partner. If you absolutely need oral sex in your life, perhaps you should have cleared that up before you got married, because there's a chance she just might not want to and you may have to just accept that.

That said, experience certainly helps. It could be a ton of reasons. Maybe she is genuinely not interested in fellatio. Maybe she finds it gross. Perhaps she's afraid she won't please you.

Communication is definitely key here. I think that part is what needs working on, moreso than physical technique. Some of the other tips regarding showers, reassurance that how far she goes is up to her, and control on your part ( like don't try to thrust up into her throat unless she tells you she wants that - an extreme example, but basically leave control over the entire process up to her). Hold her hair back for her. Grab her up for a kiss now and then. Make her feel in control, appreciated, and most of all, relaxed.

And be patient!
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:01 PM on December 8, 2007

Best answer: You're talking about a very deep issue here.

Sex, to me, is all about falling into the right groove, as how you treat your partner in bed resonates in all kinds of ways in both of your overall lives. Withdrawing, expressing disappointment, demanding reasoning, asking for equity in oral sex, because you are essentially not getting what you want out of her, is a strong indication of a breakdown in communication. And that, after all, is what sex is all about - a kind of primal communication. None of us necessarily know all the words to the language, but it is a fact that those who want to teach us new ways to express ourselves have to be kind, and most of all, understanding. Changing ain't easy. I say give her ten times the support you think she needs, and then some. If you are truly selfless about this stuff, she will find security in you. And try to enjoy what you have, because even though oral sex sounds like this great thing to have done to your dick, if she's not there, it's not nearly as enjoyable. I think a good sexual relationship ebbs, flows, and changes over time, and if you just trust yourself and her you might find the further you walk away from this situation, the better the results that will emerge.
posted by phaedon at 9:03 PM on December 8, 2007 [4 favorites]

Sorry. "restraint on your part", not control.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:03 PM on December 8, 2007

Best answer: It's lovely that you are each other's first partners. I'm assuming (and please correct me/ignore me if I'm wrong) that you and she are young, religious or possibly both. This might be part of the issue.

I was both, once, and I can tell you that messages sent to young (even mildly) religious women about sex are pretty confusing. On one hand, we're told that sex is this amazing, beautiful, ecstatic, holy thing ...when married. On the other hand, we're told that outside of marriage, sex is a sinful, shameful temptation and that we ourselves are the origin and font of this sin. Confusing. Additionally, education on the subject tends to be limited to sex = missionary position. Oral, anal, masturbation, etc, are often presented as the sinful sides of sex, especially as they're the options practiced by those outside of marriage (the homosexuals, the deviant, the fervent perverts and adulterers).

So what I'm saying is ... have patience. The idea of performing oral sex on you might just be shameful for her in some way she can't yet articulate. (I suspect that you going down on her feels so good that it short-circuts her shame about the issue.) The remedy to that is time and gentle, slow experimentation. You could also talk to her lovingly about how it feels to you, how it's an act of love that would make you feel not only physically great, but closer to her as well. Emphasize the emotional intimacy, the loving closeness that you two are probably already experiencing with vanilla sex. Tell her how going down on her makes you feel.

Finally, don't press her if she continues to balk. That way lies anger and resentment, and you don't want that. Continue to explore each other joyfully, and I bet you $10 that you'll get there eventually.
posted by minervous at 9:08 PM on December 8, 2007

I feel your pain, with no snark at all. I've tried all the following.

1. flavoring additives. what desert topping has been popular in the past?
2. liquor?
3. do you laugh a lot in bed? Have fun! Paint a bull's eye on yourselves and play-tongue-darts.
4. Tell her to lick anywhere BUT there.
posted by flowerofhighrank at 9:09 PM on December 8, 2007

OH! Also, you're posting about your wife's sexual preferences on the internet, and you're not anonymous at all. Have you checked with her about this? Your profile would make it very easy to find you, and her. And that's maybe not cool.
posted by minervous at 9:10 PM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: And, picking up on an idea expressed above, the time to talk about this is definitely NOT when you two are in bed and in the midst of making love, because the atmosphere is much too charged. Instead, talk about this on a long walk or drive, when you have privacy but are not being overtly sexual. This may diffuse things enough to get her to open up a bit more.
posted by mosk at 9:12 PM on December 8, 2007

+1 for phaedon...if she's not into it, it's worse than it never happening.
posted by flowerofhighrank at 9:13 PM on December 8, 2007

You sound like me... 20+ years ago. I just kind of accepted that she's not comfy with that, and that's okay.

Every once in a while, though.... she can get kinda motivated and really crazy.

Love her for who she is, not who you read about in Penthouse Forum. Have many happy, happy years together.
posted by Doohickie at 9:16 PM on December 8, 2007

And that, after all, is what sex is all about - a kind of primal communication.

Very true. I've found that the best approach to sex is to please your partner, then see what happens. I've found that I never regret giving without worrying about receiving. One other thing.... I think *any* guy can master cunningulus, but mastering fellatio is something that takes more talent on both sides.
posted by Doohickie at 9:21 PM on December 8, 2007

Congrats newlyweds!! Is there a way to let her know that you would like to receive oral sex with out saying it out loud?Try asking her to Kiss your hips or stomach and gently guide her where to kiss. If she doesn't go for the prize its at least a start. Keep communicating even if she doesn't. Being married isnt easy, especially in the beginning. But it is wonderful! so congrats and hope it helps
posted by Snoogylips at 9:27 PM on December 8, 2007

*any* guy can master cunningulus

Based on experience, respectfully disagreeing.

Doing either well requires some attention, effort, communication, and willingness.
posted by Miko at 9:27 PM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]

"It hurts when you hit a wall"

Not any more than it does when your partner keeps bringing up some sexual act that you can't find words to talk about, and looks vaguely hurt, while you cringe. Which, from your post, tdreyer1, is kind of how I picture your young wife, when the subject comes up.

Here's one older man's view of reality. 98% of women who think they're great at fellatio, aren't, but it's sweet enough of them to try, that a gentleman never mentions the statistics, directly. Whether they're willing to try, or not, matters much less, to men, as we get older.

But suppose she sucked it up (so to speak), and started going down on you, and was terribly, painfully, but enthusiastically, and toothily, inept at it, in a capillary busting, high suction kind of way? What do you say then, but "Ow!"?

This probably seems like an unbearable frustration at the moment, and worse, a burden you may have to shoulder all your life. Maybe it helps to know that most married guys fare no better. And, by God, should she grit her teeth (so to speak) and decide to follow the advice of Cosmo articles, things could be so much worse.

Like, trust me, you wouldn't believe.
posted by paulsc at 9:42 PM on December 8, 2007 [2 favorites]

What do you say then, but "Ow!"

You certainly can't expect anyone to please you better unless you're honest about how they're doing, what works and doesn't, and where you'd like them to improve. Good sexual relationships are built around this kind of conversation. In fact, when men are any good at cunnilingus, or women at fellatio, this kind of conversation is why. It's not something learned via mind-reading and can't be taught only by demonstration; it's learned in discussion.

No one - I mean no one - is born knowing how to give great sex. You can learn a little from books and from watching videos. Beyond that, we're all utterly dependent on our partners' honesty.

Having more partners gives you a more rounded understanding of your own sexual skills. However, having one excellent, open, and honest partner can also give a person everything they need to be the most satisfying possible match.
posted by Miko at 9:48 PM on December 8, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you everyone who has offered your advice, I appreciate it. I see there have been a few questions, and I will try to answer them here:

@everyone: It looks like the general consensus is to talk with her. I will definitely do this before asking her again.

@CKmtl: You know, it didn't even cross my mind, but she does have a powerful gag reflex... I'll be sure to ask her about that. Thankfully I trim, so hair shouldn't be a problem.

@minervous: Thanks for the heads-up, I've taken care of it.

@paulsc: Are you trying to help or to preach? If the former, you have an odd way about it. If the latter, take it elsewhere, its not welcome.

Again everyone, thank you for your input and help. I think I see a little clearer now that I need to be patient and just keep talking it out and taking it slow. I'll keep checking this if anyone else wants to add something. Thanks!!!
posted by tdreyer1 at 9:58 PM on December 8, 2007

It's an excellent point about the gag reflex. It's very tough to overcome...but it can be done. Again, there's plenty of literature out there about it that's ready to be read whenever she's ready to read it. The commitment to try comes first.
posted by Miko at 10:01 PM on December 8, 2007

If it isn't a religion issue, then my guess is she's not confident about it. She might be scared of being in control, as well. If this is the case maybe she'd like specific direction-- from you, from a book, wherever.

But I think one of the most intimidating things about sex, especially for the inexperienced, is the pressure to perform and, frankly, the fear of paulsc's "ow". Since you yourself don't know what you want from the experience, this is exploration for both of you; she might not feel comfortable leading that exploration on her own. In other words if you say "do whatever you like" she might be very intimidated because she, too, doesn't know.

Dunno about the religion issue though.
posted by nat at 10:10 PM on December 8, 2007

A huge percentage of conversations about Freud end up referencing one topic: penis envy. And this topic always ends up eliciting derisive chuckles. Stupid Freud! He sure was right when he said he didn't understand women! The point is: most women don't grow up wishing they had a penis.

If you are right about her, then she's never 'met' a penis before. And, believe me, that's something a lot of women don't exactly look forward to. Imagine living your entire life without one. Never seeing one, having only the rarest chances to talk about them, and being told by so many sources that any contact you have with one is shameful, disgraceful, or downright wrong.

...And it's different. It's a chunk of wiggly flesh hanging down from a person's crotch. There are visible veins all over it. It oozes, and that ooze gets stuck in wiry little hairs that then stick to its sides. Also, it might smell a little funny.

And then the person you love more than anything else wants you to put that thing in your mouth. And he keeps pressuring you about it. And he wants you to explain to him why you just won't do that simple little thing for him, and you just can't for the life of you find the right way to say "I'm sorry, but it's disgusting."

That's how I would have felt a few years back, were I in her position. The good news is, I grew out of it. The bad news is, it took time.

I certainly can't know what's on her mind, but I thought you might gain a bit from seeing this perspective. I'm not claiming that this point of view will last forever, nor do I think a penis is a disgusting thing... It's just very, very different from anything an inexperienced female has encountered, and, well, it can be a little off-putting at first. All my descriptions above are only an attempt to give you a look into how she might view the situation, based off of my experience and that of others I know.

All I'm really doing is nthing patience. There are many, many factors that could lead to a woman being uncomfortable with oral sex. Try to keep them in mind.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:44 PM on December 8, 2007 [4 favorites]

A different suggestion - try exploring some other new things together. This will also give you practice communicating about what you want, what she wants, what feels good or not. With luck, you two will have years together to expand beyond "vanilla" sex. In particular, you might want to try massage and perhaps she might be comfortable giving you a hand job.
posted by metahawk at 12:51 AM on December 9, 2007

She's probably just afraid she's going to throw up in your lap. Or do what I did once and try to swallow the vomit really fast (did I mention there were chunky bits?) while praying that you don't notice. And then how is she going to get the nasty vomit taste out of her mouth when you want a kiss? And.. really.. not fun.

I agree with metahawk and I think you should definitely explore the wonderful world of hand jobs. Try and see them as not an alternative, but an end unto themselves.
posted by anaelith at 3:29 AM on December 9, 2007

Nthing that she is likely afraid of her gag reflex and intimidated by the idea of having the whole thing in her mouth. Encourage kissing and licking. She may not realize that she can use her hands except for the portion that she's comfortable putting in her mouth and that this still "counts."

I'd tell you to help her find some more info, but a quick Google turns up, unfortunately, a bunch of advice that would've made the whole thing seem terribly complicated and even more gross to me when I first became sexually active.
posted by desuetude at 9:00 AM on December 9, 2007

A book suggestion here. Seriously, it's groundbreaking. Not the be-all end-all of sex manuals, but damn close to it. It's appropriate for people of all ages & stages in their sexual lives; and covers all of the issues mentioned in this AskMe with realistic suggestions and responses, diagrams, first person reports, and it's funny too. Share the book with your boo, and you'll find that it can open doors you may not have even known existed. Quite a turn on, as well. My own boo & I consider ourselves pretty, um, "worldy," but we still loved this book and even lent it to our best friends (another married couple) who enjoyed it so much they got their own copy. (And no they're not our "best friends" in that way. Jeez.)
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 9:17 AM on December 9, 2007

I've been lucky enough to have girlfriends who absolutely loved giving oral.. and a couple who had similar reactions as your new wife. In those situations, I politely and respectfully moved right past the oral topic (seeing they were uneasy with it) and found other ways to enjoy our time together. Your primary things to focus on during intimate moments are trusting and respecting your partner, communicating clearly and doing the best you can to ensure she has a good time. Focus on being as unselfish as you can possibly be (the payoff is worth it), because the more she trusts you, relaxes and has fun.. the more likely she is to want more.

I also definitely recommend talking to her about it... but thats going to be a tricky thing because even bringing up the subject will probably feel like you're putting pressure on her to do it. To be completely honest, my advice (since you are newlyweds) would be to forget about (receiving) oral in the short term. How long is that?... that all depends on how your relationship grows. How long have you lived together ? When you hit the "trust level" where you can both be comfortable in the bathroom together at the same time... thats a good sign ;P
posted by jmnugent at 10:37 AM on December 9, 2007

Best answer: @everyone: It looks like the general consensus is to talk with her. I will definitely do this before asking her again.

I would say the consensus is "don't pressure her." You could talk about it in a relaxed situation, or maybe you could just wait for a while.

As said above, "messages sent to young (even mildly) religious women about sex are pretty confusing." Messages sent to all young women about sex are pretty confusing. Should she be pure? Should she please her man? Should she be a delicate damsel? Should she be feisty and passionate? It can take someone a while to shrug off all the shoulds and find her own voice, find what is natural for her and what she wants. The trick is that if you are adding pressure, then this takes longer. She gets distracted from the mission of finding her own voice by this conflict between "should I do what feels right to me? Or should I do what he wants me to do?" What could speed up this process is to really support her in feeling comfortable asking for and doing what she wants, not what society says is "good" or "the right to do," and not even what she thinks you want. (I'm sure she is a good person who likes to do things that make other people happy, so that pressure is already there from insider herself.) Things will change a lot over the next couple years, and I think that, over the long haul, you might get the most out of being supportive and helping her find her voice in many ways (not just in conversations about sex), and that this will be easier if -- when her inclinations collide with yours -- you encourage her to stand by her own.
posted by salvia at 11:33 AM on December 9, 2007

I guess the alternative to what I just suggested is that, if you talk about it more, you might first apologize for pressuring her about it (if you think your attempts to talk about it have made her uncomfortable). Then try to explain why it is you think this one thing interests you so much. An alien from outer space might find it a little curious -- of all the many different experiments you could do, of all the many different ways in the world that you could have sex and have orgasms, why is oral sex so important to you? Maybe some are even a little bit embarrassing to admit out loud ("I guess it's because I heard about it so much in all these movies and TV shows and it always seemed so out of reach for me, only super-handsome men got that from these international super-models").

What I'm suggesting is that you change the tone of the conversation from "I want this, why won't you do it?" to "I know you have the right to say no to anything that makes you uncomfortable. So I've been asking myself, why do I even want this so much?" This puts her in the position of really being in charge and puts you in the position of trying to inspire her to re-consider out of compassion for you and the fact that you [are intensely curious about what it feels like] / [want to be a man like the men on TV] / [think her lips are the most erotically fascinating part of her body]... I'm not saying it's strange that you want it. But in this situation, where one person wants something and the other doesn't, it will be better to go in with the idea that both people have the right to feel the way they do, and for the sake of mutual understanding, both should explore and try to explain to the other person, deep-down, why do they feel the way they do. And since the balance seems like it may have been a bit in the other direction, with her on the defensive, doing this could re-balance it.
posted by salvia at 11:57 AM on December 9, 2007

I think others are right, you'll need to wait for her to be really comfortable with this, and you should never ever put undue pressure on your lover, talking to her away from the bedroom is a good idea - but you'll have to pick your timing.

Sex is pretty great, you know, so you don't want to give her any additional issues that spoil that for her (and thereby, yourself).

I do know how frustrating it can be to be with a girl who won't give oral, I was with a lovely girl earlier this year who only told me about her little blowjob hangup after I'd already gone down on her.

I guess the good news, as you've already found, is that hypocrites can still be good roots. :)

Other good news: You're probably not missing much, if she hasn't done it before she'll be completely useless. (Not that guys aren't easy to please, I'm just sayin'.)

Speaking of which, once she's past whatever the problem is with doing it at all, you'll have to teach her how to do it to right - it really doesn't come naturally to some girls, and some never get it - my ex was useless no matter what I tried.

(Also, your next challenge - getting the ass - will probably make the blowjob seem like nothing.)
posted by The Monkey at 2:47 AM on December 10, 2007

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