I’m a 30-something guy in a long-term relationship with a bisexual woman. She’s got a high sex drive and wants to have sex almost constantly. My desire doesn’t really match up with hers but I wonder if the issue is really that her sexual techniques don’t really line up with my tastes. Her confidence seems tenuous and I’m worried that my requests will deflate her.
How could I best make suggestions towards what I want her to do and request changes to her existing approach without making her retreat from me or feel bad?
Thanks for any advice,
I know for some readers this might sound shocking, but I was once a church youth group director. Okay, well, it was a Unitarian Universalist church youth group but still. One thing that’s really great about working with teenagers in an intentional, pure, community-building setting such as a UU church youth group is that they teach you how to be a nice, ethics-forward, person in the world.
What does this have to do with your sex life, Cautious? Well, not all sex advice is sexual in nature. Sometimes, learning how to communicate directly and kindly is just the skill set you need to further your sexual satisfaction. And with that, I introduce to you the The Compliment Sandwich, courtesy of my former church youth group days.
The Compliment Sandwich is a technique great for delivering constructive feedback in a way that strikes a nice balance between honoring your partner’s/friend’s/co-worker’s strengths, and being direct and clear about what you’d like to see change. In a Compliment Sandwich, compliments are the bread and your request/suggestion/critique is the meat (or vegan meat substitute, as it were).
My boyfriend refuses to go down on me. As a bisexual woman who has been in long term relationships with women, it’s something I miss. I bring it up and he gets defensive about it. I’m always down to give the blow jobs and don’t believe in not doing so just because he doesn’t go down on me.
He’s tight lipped about why he isn’t interested in it. He makes it seem like we would have to be together for a long time before he does, but it has been over six months — and we live together. Any suggestions?
— Left Bi & Dry
Dear Bi & Dry,
Tight lipped, eh? Sounds like he’s not the only one!
Without much background information, I’m left with a few questions that’ll determine my advice:
1.) What has he done to make it seem like he wants you two to have more relationship history before going down on you? Did he say this outright? Or are his answers vague; he mentions “trust” and “knowing each other better,” but does not offer any idea of what that might look like?
2.) How have you brought it up with him? Is it in a way that warrants his defensive reaction? Or are you approaching this from a perspective that truly wants to understand his aversion to going down?
3.) And then finally: Has he NEVER gone down on you ever in your entire relationship? Or is this a new, sudden, or gradual change?
In my experience, both personal and professional, someone’s resistance to performing oral sex (beyond they simply don’t care for it) is usually about:
1.) Gendered, social sex education that expects women to perform oral sex on men. (Need an example? Let’s play a game and count the number of magazine cover stories this month that feature an article about BJs and compare them to the cover stories run about cunnilingus. Meanwhile, men don’t get the social message that “Being a Good Lover = Providing Oral Sex” pounded into their heads, so some may feel less urgency/“off the hook” about it.
My boyfriend and I have been together for two years and we’re best friends. Mutual respect exists in almost every way between us. Sometimes, however, the sex feels, well, sexist. First, he enjoys watching porn together, but I really don’t. However, he always tries to initiate porn watching even though I’ve told him I don’t enjoy it. Secondly, I perform far more oral sex than he does. He rarely performs oral or hand sex on me, and when he does, he doesn’t bother to ask me for feedback. I’ve tried to tell him that X feels good and Y doesn’t, but he gets kind of insulted and self conscious, so I don’t do that anymore.
He does what turns him on in bed, and thinks that, because it turns him on, it must turn me on. Though he’s listened to me when I tell him in a nonsexual context what might personally get me going he doesn’t carry this information over into the bedroom. I’ve asked for more oral sex, less porn, less verbal fantasizing about my friends, etc., but still he does the things that get HIM going when we have sex. I don’t feel cared for in this area, in a stereotypically “girl wants more from hetero guy in bed and he says ‘Gotcha babe, now blow me’” kind of way.
Our communication is generally great, but there seems to be a missing link in this one area between what we express to each other and what we do. Help!
— Unpampered Pet
Popular, traditional sex education is quite sexist — it prioritizes boners and their reproductive pleasure principles and treats the vagina like little more than a baby-making receptacle not worth bothering to learn to please. Call it the heteropatriarchy or pleasure-phobia but either way — women are screwed when it comes to learning how to screw.
This isn’t an excuse for your boyfriend to keep riding the sexist sex ed wave straight to blow-job beach, but it does mean that when in a cishetero relationship, couples need to try a little harder to overcome the many social, gendered blocks to good sexual communication…continue reading…
I have been using flavored lube for mostly oral, but recently this has been causing tonsillitis for me. I forgot to read the fine print, “Use within 3 months,” so now I must chuck out a full bottle (I hate wastage!).
What brands of flavored lube would you recommend using to avoid wastage? What are the best brands to use? Also I live in Australia, so would it be okay to order it online if it’s not available in the shops?
— Lickety Sick
Tonsillitis? From expired lube? I gotta say I’ve never heard that one before and my research isn’t coming up with any definitive answers. As tonsillitis is caused by bacterial infection I would say to get thee to a doctor to get that checked out. Bacteria and oral sex do not mix well and you certainly don’t want to be tossing something back and forth with your partner/s or be chronically contracting something that’s bad for your health.
Oral thrush — which can cause pain similar to tonsillitis like a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and white pustules on the inner cheeks and back of the throat — can occur via performing oral sex on someone with a yeast infection, for example. (And yeast infections can find home in both the vagina as well as in the cozy folds of an uncircumcised penis, btw!)
I myself learned an itchy, unfortunate lesson about the joys of lube and lover-licking many years ago as a college freshman. For months on end I was coming down with yeast infections — itching, burning yeasties that would not quit. Finally I went to my campus’ health services and pleaded with the nurse to help me put an end to this vicious cycle. She asked me two questions: Is your boyfriend uncircumcised? Are you using KY Jelly? Answers: yes and yes.
Anyone who has attended my workshops or reads my column knows I hate glycerin-containing lubes (KY and Astroglide being the biggest offenders) with a fiery, yeasty passion. And that, well, memorable time during my freshman year in college is exactly why. The nurse enlightened me to the fact that my boyfriend could harbor a yeast infection and that the glycerin in the lube we were using (ahem, KY!) was off-setting the pH balance of my precious pussy, tripping up yeast infections which I was then passing to my boyfriend and he back to me again…continue reading…
I’ve been exploring a bit and I’ve realized I’m realllly into oral sex with partners of whatever gender. This is exciting but I’m kind of afraid to do it as I’m new to this. I’m not sure if it’s safe without protection and I don’t know the right way to ask about a partner’s sexual history, especially if we’ve only recently met. This sort of makes me afraid to use things like Grindr though I’d like to. Your insight would be appreciated. P.S. I think your work on consent is rad!
— Need the Lowdown on Going Down
It’s great to hear that you’re into my consent work, because my answer is intimately tied to practicing consent with your sexual partners — from your LTRs to your one-night Grindr dates — and for all sexual activities from making out to oral sex to hot-n-sweaty bangin’.
Whether you’re eating tacos or hot dogs, being aware of your pornolicious picnic partner’s condiment preferences and current health status is important. Talking about your current STI/STD status is crucial but can also be part of a larger discussion about sexual preferences, triggers, and enthusiastic “Yes”s — all components of practicing consent!
Mass media creates an image of sex as devoid of clear communication, showing us seamless sex scenes of take-me-now, instantly-orgasmic encounters occurring in some parallel universe where people can psychically perfect their partner’s pleasures, wordlessly get consent, and where everyone is magically immune to STIs/STDs.
Here in the off-screen real world, we know better. Or, at least we should, except we live in a society that would rather we get our sex education through these confusing mass media messages than from trained sex educators (but that’s another column). The first thing we need to do is let go of The Movie Sex Scene as the ideal because it’s neither attainable nor ideal…continue reading…
My friend seriously freaked me out when she told me that I should always use condoms for oral sex when I’m not in a longterm, monogamous relationship. Have I been sleeping on this or is she being dramatic? What are the transmission rates of STDs through oral sex?
— Freaked About Fellatio
We take risks every day. We take risks when we drive a car, we take risks when we fall in love — I took a risk today when I waded across a deep swimming river with my dog in one arm and my precious smartphone in the other.
We assess for and manage both minor and major physical and emotional risks everyday, in many ways that are unique to us. And sex is no different. Sex is a risky activity, both physically (pregnancy! STDs!) and emotionally (heartbreak! jealousy!). However, sex’s risks are often highlighted in a pleasure-negative, slut-shamey way with lots of focus on STDs/STIs as being “dirty,” “slutty,” and “unforgiveable.”
Some STDs/STIs are fatal and serious. Others are just as common and curable as other non-sex-induced illnesses. We wouldn’t call someone a whore because she caught a cold from a doorknob. We wouldn’t yell, “What were you doing touching doorknobs anyway!?”
Just as “wash your hands” is suggested risk management for colds, “use a condom during non-monogamous oral” is a suggested risk-management tool for safer sex…continue reading…
So many sex and dating clichés, so many hot-tub induced yeast-infections, accidental sex farts, and awkward threesomes.
Here’s to half-a-dozen intimate “ideals” that gotta go:
∎ Subtly hit on your crush. No. Make that flirting obvious as hell. I don’t mean in a creepy, non-consensual way. Take a little time to read your crush’s vibe, like are they seeing someone? Do they want to be seeing someone? Are they even interested in your specific gender? But once you’re pretty sure y’all are vibin’, don’t waste your time dropping, “so, what are you doing this weekend?” hints and, “I’ve got an extra concert ticket” breadcrumbs. Telling someone you think they’re beautiful and awesome and you want to take them on a proper date is swoon-worthy, not to mention time-efficient (which, to me, is also swoon-worthy). Chivalry isn’t dead, but being indirect about what you want is….continue reading…