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Breaking the silence around moaning and groaning

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Tiffany asks:

For some reason, I can't moan during any kind of sex. For as long as I have been having sex, I have never moaned. My new partner really wants me to moan. I was wondering if there is any specific reason why I can't moan...

CJ replies:

The short and easy answer: not everyone will feel so compelled as to moan during sex, so there’s nothing wrong with you. A lack of moaning does not mean that you’re not enjoying yourself, just as the presence of moaning does not mean that you are enjoying yourself.

So now that we’ve knocked out the quick and easy answer, let’s dig a little deeper into the issues here.

How do you feel about your lack of moaning? Do you enjoy yourself when you’re having sex? How does your new partner treat you? Whenever I hear that someone’s partner really wants them to do something (be it a specific position or activity, having sex at all, etc.) I wonder about the dynamic and whether it’s truly respectful and egalitarian. I believe that any sexual activity should be about the pleasure of all involved parties—not just one person—and that communication around sex needs to be loaded with compassion, respect, and understanding.

We all have our turn-ons during sex. Some people are visually oriented and get really turned on by seeing their partners or using various media images to stimulate themselves. Some folks are tactile and they really love touching and feeling. Some folks get really turned on by smells, by tastes, and others still are really turned on by sounds. None of these things are inherently better than others, and some folks will find many of these things hot (and others might not be into any of them). It sounds as if your partner is really into the noises associated with sex, and it’s great that your partner has shared what ze (pronounced "zee"--I don’t want to assume the gender of your partner, so I’m using a gender-neutral pronoun here) likes with you.

That does not, however, mean that you are obligated to change your own natural response to sex. Any time that we are focused on a goal—whether that goal be orgasm, making a certain noise, ejaculation, or whatever—we are less focused on pleasure and enjoying the moment and the interaction itself. Sometimes that can lead to increased anxiety, which has this little way of making things markedly less enjoyable.

Of course, you could start to moan during sex if you are interested in satisfying that desire from your partner. Sometimes when we know our partners are really into something it can give us pleasure to make the choice to do that for them because it can give us pleasure to give our partners pleasure. But let me emphasize that choice thing again—that is 100% up to you to decide if you want to do it. Certainly a forced or faked moan is not the same is something that arises naturally, but if your partner is really into noise and you’re interested in gratifying, faking is totally an option (NOT a necessity, to reiterate). That should really only be considered, though, if making noise is something that does not bother you; if forcing noise makes you feel uncomfortable or takes away from your enjoyment, it’s just not worth it.

Have you talked with your partner about why ze wants so much for you to moan? Perhaps ze just needs some feedback about what feels good for you, or that you are enjoying yourself. There may be other ways to provide that without having to fake a moan, so I’d highly recommend having that conversation with your partner to find out a bit more about what’s behind hir (pronounced "here", another gender-neutral pronoun there, for you) asking you to moan.

Maybe your partner just feels that your moaning is a way to show hir that you are enjoying yourself. If you look at there at the images we see about sex—particularly from porn or television dramatization—I think it’s easy to get the idea that sex is always graceful, bed-shaking, intuitively executed, and LOUD. For some folks moans, groans, and other noises slip out quite naturally, but it’s not always the case, and not a direct correlate to enjoyment. And, as we know, good sex involves communication…but even with good communication sometimes it can be awkward, ungraceful, or just kind of funny. That’s all ok.

But, to summarize, it’s likely just best to be yourself. Moaning is something that happens for some and not for others and neither situation means that someone is enjoying themselves any more or less than another person. You may find at some point in your future that some noise will come out of you during sex, but there’s no way of predicting. What I can tell you for sure is that focusing your attention on pleasure and enjoying the moment without the stress of expectation can only improve the experiences of sex and help you to learn more about what you like and your own style.

And while we’re on this noisy little topic,

Geekygrl asks,

My boyfriend thinks that if we watch porn together, it will help me moan. Is that true?

Well, if your lack of moaning is a result of never having seen an example of someone acting out a script that calls for moaning, then I suppose watching porn could help! Seriously, though, if your boyfriend is placing expectations upon your performance or reaction to sex based on what he has learned from porn, both of you should know that this is not necessarily realistic. While some people who perform in porn undoubtedly get pleasure from it, do remember that porn is just that: a performance. It is meant to titillate and arouse but it is not always a realistic representation of how sex goes, and it certainly is not the benchmark of what is “supposed” to happen. Fortunately—though sometimes it’s challenging—we get to communicate with our partners and work out sex for ourselves.

If you really enjoy porn and find that watching it turns you on, then that’s for you to decide. For some (I repeat, some) people, they find that they may moan if they are more aroused but this is not a rule or a guarantee. Like I mentioned above, the presence of moaning does not guarantee that someone is enjoying themselves, and an absence of moaning does not mean that someone is not enjoying themselves.

Communication is the answer here. We will all develop our own styles and our partners may have different communication needs than we have. Talking about these needs before, during, and after sex is good form, and may help you and your partners establish what you need in terms of communication in the midst of sex. Be yourself and try not to get too caught up on what is or is not coming out of your mouth!

Here are some additional links for you to explore:

written 15 Oct 2008 . updated 29 Jan 2014

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.