We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist based in San Francisco, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions will remain anonymous. Please send your sex and relationship inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, onto this week’s topic: how to relax during oral sex.
Q: I have a really hard time relaxing and enjoying myself when my boyfriend goes down on me. I get self-conscious about him being so close to me down there, and I worry about him not liking the way I taste, or getting tired. He’s always asking me, “what do you want me to do?” I don’t think I’ve ever liked oral sex, so I don’t know what instructions to give. Plus, him asking me that question makes me feel even more nervous, like I'm letting him down. My friends rave about how good oral is, and I feel like I’m missing out. Is it possible that I just don’t like oral sex? Or is something wrong with me?
A: You’re definitely not alone in feeling uncomfortable receiving oral. Women are socialized to believe that our genitals are gross, smelly, weird, icky, and ugly, so it’s not surprising that you feel self-conscious when your boyfriend's face is literally all up in your business!
There are lots of factors that can get in the way of your oral enjoyment, so here are seven strategies to help yourself develop a healthier relationship with cunnilingus:
1. Know That Your Body Is Beautiful
It takes time to let go of all the crap we women have to deal with when it comes to our bodies, but please know that your genitals are beautiful just the way they are. Seriously. Your boyfriend is choosing to keep going down on you, so he obviously feels the same way.
If it makes you feel more comfortable, you can always try wiping down with an unscented baby wipe beforehand (but again, this isn’t necessary; you taste just great!). You can also try experimenting with different pubic hair styles to see what makes you feel the most sexy. Think of it as pampering yourself!
2. Find Ways To Connect During Oral
A lot of women find receiving oral to be a lonely experience. Your partner is all the way down there, and you’re basically chilling on the pillows by yourself.
If you find yourself feeling disconnected, try asking your boyfriend to hold your hand, or stroke other parts of your body like your breasts or your stomach. You can also ask him to make eye contact with you, or talk to you. Or he can come up for air and kiss your mouth, neck, and breasts.
You can also experiment with different positions, like sitting on the edge of the bed with your feet on the floor, and him kneeling in between your legs. This position has the added bonus of being way more comfortable for him.
3. Learn How To Give Feedback
You may be feeling like you have to know exactly what you want, and that you have to give your boyfriend precise and specific directions when he’s going down on you. That doesn’t have to be the case! I would encourage you and your boyfriend to think of giving feedback during oral sex instead of directions. Instead of trying to come up with what you want beforehand, focus more on what feels good in the moment. Keep it simple by saying things like “faster,” “slower,” “harder,” and “softer.”
You can also use A/B testing to help hone in on what feels good. Have your boyfriend try two different licking techniques (like side to side, then up and down), then tell him which one feels better. Then have him try two different levels of pressure, or two different speeds. Picking one option out of two is a lot easier and less intimidating than trying to come up with your own instructions out of thin air!
You might also want to broaden your oral sex vocabulary and skill set by reading a sexual technique book together. My absolute favorite is She Comes First by Ian Kerner. It’s a must-read. (You can also read our guide to giving oral sex feedback for more tips.)
4. Focus On The Sensation Of Receiving
Many of my sex therapy clients tell me that their minds wander during oral sex. It’s so rare in life that we get the opportunity to lay back and just receive, and it can feel jarring when that’s all you need to do.
To help yourself stay more present in the moment, try telling yourself, “all I have to do right now is receive” or “I give myself permission to be the center of attention.”
You can also simply try focusing on the sensations you’re feeling. Imagine what your boyfriend’s tongue and lips look like swirling around your labia and clitoris. Try to pinpoint exactly where on your body feels good.
5. Don’t Get Perfectionistic About It
It’s impossible to be fully present 100 percent of the time. Let’s get real — it’s hard to feel present for longer than 10-20 seconds at a time! Lots of women beat themselves up for getting distracted during oral sex, but it’s simply impossible not to. Your thoughts are going to drift, so instead of trying to force yourself not to think about anything else, take a second to acknowledge your wandering mind, and gently try to refocus on what’s going on in the present moment. (Think of it as meditation practice.) Repeat every 10-20 seconds as necessary!
6. Talk About It
Communication is so crucial to good sex. Tell your boyfriend that you’re having a hard time letting go during oral sex, and ask him to tell you what he likes about going down on you. Hearing him say, “you taste so good” or “I love the way your skin feels on my mouth” might help you feel more relaxed when he starts working his way down beneath the covers.
I’d also suggest gently requesting that he stop asking the dreaded “what do you want me to do?” question. I don’t think there’s any other question more universally despised by women during sex! Tell him, “when you ask me that question, it just sends me up in my head and makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong.”
Suggest trying the A/B testing method together, or come up with sneaky ways to let him know that he’s on the right track (for example, you’ll pull his hair when you want more pressure, or you’ll stroke his shoulder when you want him to go slower).
7. Accept Your Likes And Dislikes
If you try these tips and still don’t enjoy having his head between your legs, that’s perfectly OK! There are lots of women who just don’t like oral sex. Your sexual likes and dislikes are part of what makes you you, and there’s nothing wrong with not liking oral, if that's truly how you feel.
Good luck, and have fun!
Images: HBO; Giphy