Sex & Relationships

What A Sex Educator Wants You To Know If You Dread Oral Sex

You're under no obligation to do anything. Ever.

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In this week's Sex IDK column, Emma McGowan, certified sex educator and writer, answers your questions about hating to give oral sex.

Q: Is it normal to hate performing oral sex?

Oral sex is often presented as the end-all, be-all sex act; the one that everyone loves receiving, most love giving, and no one can get enough of. But just like any other sex act, there are people who are super into it, people who hate it, and people who don’t have strong feelings either way.

So, sure, reader! It’s normal to hate performing oral sex. It’s also normal to love performing oral sex. And it’s normal to not care for it particularly but to do it because your partner loves it. The same goes for being kind of into it ... or only liking it on Sundays in months that begin with "J."

Do you see a pattern here? Sex is such a varied human experience that “normal” doesn’t really mean anything. You can find someone for every point on the spectrum from absolute hate to absolute love with pretty much any sex act. Including many that even I haven't heard of!

But the majority of questions that I get as a sex educator ask, “Is this normal?” And so I like to flip the question around: what are you really asking when you ask if it’s normal to hate performing oral sex? Are you asking for permission not to do it? Are you looking to win an argument with a partner or friend? Are you worried that you’re broken or weird or messed up, and that’s why you don’t like going down on people?

Because when people ask if something is “normal,” they’re usually asking if there’s something not-normal about them. And while I can’t answer that for you, you absolutely can get an answer — perhaps with the help of a therapist. If there’s a deeper trauma informing your distaste for oral sex and it’s getting in the way of you living your best sex life, then it’s so worth it to work through that and move forward. But whether or not you get outside support, you still always have the right not to do any sex act that you hate.

It doesn't have to be that deep. Maybe you just don’t like the way performing oral sex feels. If that’s the case, you’re under no obligation to do it. Ever. Period. The end. You are fully in your right to tell your partner(s) that you’re just not into oral sex and don’t want to do it. They’re also fully within their rights to decide whether or not that works for them, too.

In summary: Yes, it’s normal. (Also, I think we can all agree to stop using the word “normal” about sex.) If you think there’s a deeper issue and you want to work through it, find yourself a sex-positive therapist. And if you don’t? You’re totally fine, just the way you are.